The “peak oil” theory, which remains the domain of the wacko fringe in the U.S., appears to be taken rather more seriously in the U.K., where several members of parliament have signed on to a petition circulated by an alternative-energy advocacy group calling on the govenrment to release research findings on the phenomenon and take steps to prepare for an impending crisis. Here is the press release announcing the petition drive:
News Released: April 30, 2005
UK Citizens call on government to act on ‘Peak Oil’
A new petition entitled “Peak Oil Production & Decline – Raising awareness and discussion of the consequences and solutions” has officially been launched (Thursday 28th April 2005) by Powerswitch.org.uk to call on UK government to prepare for the serious economic, social and cultural adjustment of the twenty first century caused by global oil depletion.
The petition, which can be found at http://www.petitiononline.com/PeakOil/petition.html, lays clear the reasons why global oil production is likely to enter terminal decline within the decade while demanding serious action from the UK government. The petition calls for action such as recognising importance of oil and gas in agriculture and therefore addressing how food will be grown and distributed in the future as well as preparing a full, honest and major public awareness campaign on the future economic and lifestyle consequences of oil depletion.
“People have to know,” explained James Howard of PowerSwitch.org.uk. “It is only right that people should be given full knowledge of the likely economic future so that they can begin making preparations now. It is a lot to ask any government to give out what will be seen as bad news, but equally it cannot shirk from these responsibilities, which is essentially the future well-being of the United Kingdom. Whether the peak of production is now or ten years time, the important thing is to use the time and resources we have now with foresight, wisdom and urgency.”
The petition was based originally on Early Day Motion 199 from the 3rd December 2003, put forward by MP David Chaytor. Entitled ‘Oil depletion, energy self-sufficiency and the low carbon economy’ the Early Day Motion picked up a total of 55 MP signatures, including those of Peter Bottomley, Gerald Kaufman and Peter Ainsworth. “It is a source of hope that these MPs are prepared to go public and I hope they all get back into Parliament to raise this issue,” said James Howard.
The timing of this official launch means it coincides with an outbreak of publicity of this issue brought about by the recent Peak Oil conference on April 25th 2005. The topic has been covered recently in The Guardian, The Independent, The Scotsman and on Radio 4 and awareness and discussion of this topic is also reaching bankers and scientists. However, it is the general public that need to be talking about the problem and the solutions.
“Global oil depletion is going to bring about a lot of challenges for all societies and it is going to take big decisions to take us through the transition,” explained James Howard. “But a lot of these decisions will be hard, unpopular ones. The public needs to make such decisions easier for politicians to make and for that they need to be aware, and that is where the petition comes in, as part of our awareness raising campaign.”
Meanwhile on our side of the Atlantic, “peak oil” hypothesists speak exclusively in fluent Apocalese, seemingly designed to alienate and thereby guarantee their self-perceived status as an elite marginalized for its prescience. Fans of such chipper morbidity will be endlessly entertained at two lovely new websites, both brimming with indecipherable charts and relentless predictions of imminent collapse: Peak Oil: Life After the Crash, and the even gloomier DIE OFF: A Population Crash Resource Page. This latter bunch seem to be typically embittered Malthusians who feel betrayed that history continues to jilt their prophet’s date with destiny almost two centuries on, and look hopefully to oil depletion for belated vindication. Too bad the Internet will probably crash before the Earth’s population does, so they won’t get to scream “I told you so!” from their website as the billions bite the dust. But then, you never know…
As we have noted, “peak oil” has been in the international press quite a bit lately.