Monday, 12 January 2009
Peak Oil in 2020?
On 15th December 2008, The Guardian newspaper reported a George Monbiot interview with Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Authority (IEA). You can watch the full interview here http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2008/dec/15/fatih-birol-george-monbiot. Birol explained that for the first time the IEA had actually researched decline rates in the world's largest 800 oilfields: as a result, the IEA is now predicting peak oil around 2020! Why is this not headline news daily? With so much of our society based around cheap energy (especially oil) we need to be doing something about this right now! Instead, the UK government seems determined to push ahead with "development" projects like the expansion of Heathrow and Stanstead airports, which will increase demand for oil-based fuel. The disastrous rush to coal and nuclear energy is their response to this scarcity, but these pose real problems for the future, both in terms of climate change and in terms of safe disposal of nuclear waste. A better strategy might be to invest in decentralised renewable energy solutions, such as microgeneration and small-scale combined heat and power (CHP)plants. It would also help if the government stopped subsidizing the airline industry with public funds; the companies would then have to pass on the real cost to the consumer, which would discourage casual jaunts. As someone who has family overseas, I am as eager as the next to see them more frequently. I know there is no substitute for meeting them face to face, but video-conferencing is increasingly accessible, and costs less in hard cash and to the environment. Let's make the best use of the modern technology we have and stop relying on out-moded technologies which are not only well past their best-before date but are actively poisoning us and our posterity.