Monday, 14 June 2010

Don't look away now

Posted on This is My Truth on 14 June

There's been discussion on this blog before on the rising price of oil. But it is a fast moving debate.

In the last few weeks Lloyds of London have warned businesses of a global oil supply crunch and price spike. Cheap oil has underpinned a whole range of economic activity in the past and that is coming to an end. So too is the food supply chain we've become used to. Lloyds warn that increasing transport costs will make the availability of some imported foods in supermarkets uneconomic, and the whole 'just in time' supply chain model may need to be re-thought.

Sceptics of the 'peak oil' debate had a further blow when the conservative statistics arm of the US Department of Energy published its International Energy Outlook for 2010. Its previously rosy forecasts of future oil supplies have been replaced by a pessimistic analysis. Peak oil is almost upon us it now says.

On top of that Sir David King, who was Blair's Chief Scientific Adviser and peak oil sceptic, wrote in yesterday's Observer, that the Interntaional Energy Outlook is too optimistic and has overestimated the oil reserves in fields yet to be developed by some 30%, making the shortfall even worse. We must end our dependency on oil he concludes:

We will also need to go beyond the designs of the vehicles and fuels themselves and look at changing urban design, building and improving mass transportation systems and changing the ways that people drive.

This, of course, is independent of the additional, but pressing imperative to reduce carbon emissions and prevent dangerous climate change. Put the two together and the case for change becomes overwhelming.

There's a final reason to wean ourselves off our current dependency on oil. In these difficult economic times, we need to stop bleeding our economies by pouring money into the handful of countries that hold most of the oil.

Today, the rest of the world pours more than $2 trillion a year into the Gulf states, which is $6m per day. This money would surely be better spent developing energy resources that are much closer to home?

These are not hippy radicals making these warnings. They cannot be easily dismissed. And what's more their predictions are not abstract theories they will impact on Wales and our public services.

What plans are Government in Wales making to address this emerging crisis? And why aren't politicians and the media asking these questions?

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