Whistling Past the Oil Field

World energy demand is skyrocketing. Supplies are running out. Official response: not to worry.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world is going to need one-third more energy, primarily from oil and coal, by 2035, as demand from China, India and the Middle East continues its dramatic growth. Most objective students of the world’s fossil fuels do not believe that the sources of that energy exist.

In its annual report titled World Energy Outlook, the IEA said “It is hard to overstate the growing importance of China in global energy markets.” The country passed the United States last year as the world’s largest energy user. and consumerism among the country’s billions has just got underway — the IEA says its energy needs will rise by 75 per cent in 25 years.

If the report in the New York Times is complete, the IEA has little to say about the propects for meeting this astonishing new demand level, beyond a tip of the hat to the need for renewable energy resources and the likelihood of increased oil prices. Nowhere, apparently, does it use the world “catastrophic,” or “apocalyptic.”

The agency’s sunny public optimism, its faith the somehow the world will find energy sources to maintain its spendthrift ways, has been maintained despite raging internal battles among senior staff, some of whom have spoken off the record about the sugar coating the agency is applying to its studies. According to one of the leakers, quoted in the Guardian of London, “there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further. And the Americans fear the end of oil supremacy because it would threaten their power over access to oil resources.”

Elsewhere, in the same time frame, equally ignored by the lamestream media (thank you, Sarah Palin) consider the following events:

  • A think tank working for the German military has warned that peak oil — the point of maximum possible world oil production, followed by irreversible decline — is imminent, or has already happened. Among the effects to be expected: serious political and economic crises world wide along with “total collapse of the markets.” (By the way, the U S military has produced a number of similar reports in past years. For details consulkt Congressman Rosco Bartlett of Maryland, the only voice in the U S Congress warning of the immoveable iceberg in the path of our unsinkable ship.)
  • The British government has been studying the implications of peak oil, and whiule publicly branding concerns voiced about its effectrs as “alarmist,” has become so alarmed by what it has found that it has classified its findings. According to the Guardian, ministers are frantically canvassing scientists and industry experts with questions about what they should be doing to prepare. Make that should have been doing.
  • Last month the parliament of New Zealand released a report titled The Next Oil Shock? that said in part: “Low-cost reserves of oil are being rapidly exhausted, forcing oil companies to turn to more expensive sources of oil. This replacement of low-cost sources of oil with higher-costs sources is driving the price of oil higher” and that “there is a risk that the world economy may be at the start of a cycle of supply crunches leading to price spikes and recessions, followed by recoveries leading to supply crunches”.

Translation: the words “catastrophic” and “apocalyptic” are appropriate.

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