Saturday, 24 May 2008

Peak Oil in the news - can we move on please?

Yesterday oil hit $135 a barrel; up $5 it was the biggest daily hike in 60 years. The price of oil has doubled in a year, increased 10 times over in 10 years. Opec predicts that oil will reach $200 a barrel by the end of this year. Peak oil hit the headlines big time this week, including the front page of the FT – this animated short was on the Daily Telegraph’s website for example. It’s great that peak oil is now mainstream. Once people get over the shock of what it’s going to mean to our economy, we can get on with the work that really interests me – what are we going to do about it?

This transition period is not going to be straightforward as the solutions are divergent: there are those who will want to keep the economic growth show on the road, using coal to liquid, GM and other high-carbon, earth unfriendly technologies. That, and a run on nuclear, could be suicidal. The environmentalists will strengthen the call for low-impact earth-repair solutions and clashes will certainly ensue as the two paradigms go head to head. I’m reminded of the transition phase of labour; that’s when you tend to say, fuck off, I don’t want to do this any more. But it’s also the time just before you start to actually give birth to the gorgeous new, long-awaited baby.

Meanwhile, a good part of the economic ‘crunch’ (a lovely polite sounding word, that) is underpinned by the markets’ realisation that the party’s over. That’s reflected in the fact that the oil future prices are now higher than before. The price of oil, as Norman Baker said this week on Radio 4, is not going to come down again.

Having seen all this ahead a while back, I’m now pretty familiar with the range of possible futures, and look forward to the time when we’re all on the road to creating the better future with less fossil fuels. Transition Town Lewes is designed to help people through this – the faster we get on board, the gentler the transition. As the management guru Peter Drucker famously said, The best way to predict the future is to create it.

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