An explosive new book from a University of California environmental scholar takes a scalpel to the blandishments of global politicians and their corporate paymasters to lay bare the hard facts they are trying — with increasing desperation and decreasing effectiuveness — to conceal. The facts are: peak oil is here, no one is ready, and a worlwide descent into chaos has already begun.
(These are the tenets upon which rest this website and the book that preceded it. Brace for Impact: Surviving the Crash of Industrial Society by Sustainable Living presents the conclusion of a journalist and generalist that industrial society is unsustainable, and its crash is under way. The present book comes to the same conclusion, expressing even more urgency, as a result of rigorous academic research.)
The book is titled Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization: The Current Peak Oil Crisis. It was written by Tariel Mórrígan, who is the principal research assistant for a four-year project at the University of California at Santa Barbara (Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy) investigating the threats to national security and democracy posed by the catastrophic effects of global climate change.
But it is not climate change that scares Mórrígan, it is peak oil. This concept, familiar in the oil bidness for over half a century, holds that te progress of oil production from any well, field, country and the world follows the same pattern: discovery, constantly increasing production to a peak as the first half of the oil is withdrawn, then an irreversible decline as the remainder, ever more difficult and expensive to extract as it dwindles, is gone after.
The problem, well documented in Mórrígan’s book, is that there is no peak in the demand for oil, it just keeps going up. In the past century the economy of the entire world has been made dependent for its existence on cheap, abundant oil. The fact that there is a finite amount of oil in existence, and that the world will inevitably have to deal with its decline and disappearance, has been studiously ignored.
When the oil geologist M. King Hubbert explained the nature of oil production and predicted in 1950 that U.S. oil production would peak in 1970, he was buried with derision. Then U.S. oil production peaked in 1970, and has been declining, irreversibly, ever since. In recent years, when anyone suggested that world oil production was reaching its maximum and would begin its irreversible decline, the oil industry and its wholly-owned politicians and scientists heaped scorn and derision. But the reality is insistent, and the truth is becoming visible through the fog of PR.
Mórrígan does a thorough, even masterful job of documenting the extent to which cheap and abundant oil is essential to the functioning of the world as we know it; the massive, routine deceptions practiced by all the players in the oil and associated industries to prevent public awareness of the fragility of the oil-based world; and the undeniable evidence that an enormous reckoning is at hand. The good news about the bad news: the e-book is available here, for free.)
Perhaps most disconcerting of his revelations are those concerning the nature and extent of those deceptions, not only on the part of the industries, which is to be expected, but on the part of the governments elected to protect and defend their people from precisely the kind of disaster that now approaches. And not only in the Bush administration, which was well understood to be an oil administration, but in the Obama administration as well.
Mórrígan quotes David Fridley, an oil economist who has worked closely with the present U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, as saying that Chu “knows all about peak oil, but he can’t talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can’t say anything about it.”
Then there is Robert Hirsch, who was the lead writer of a report on peak oil done by the Energy Department in 2005. The report told the truth, as we now know it; peak oil is imminent and the consequences will be catastrophic. Hirsch was told never to talk about the report, and funding for peak oil research in the department evaporated. Today, this is what Hirsch has to say:
“…if you spend some time looking at peak oil, if you’re a reasonably intelligent person, you see that catastrophic things are going to happen to the world. We’re talking about major damage, major change in our civilization. Chaos, economic disaster, wars, all kinds of things that are, as I say, very complicated, non-linear. Really bad things. People don’t like to talk about bad things.”
Indeed. But if the people of the industrialized world continue to refuse to talk about the bad things being reported by authors such as Tariel Mórrígan, books such as Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization, or such as Brace for Impact and websites such as The Daily Impact, then they will be found, on a day that is coming soon, naked and defenseless in the path of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.