Everyone's heard about climate change of course. It's an issue which, in forty or fifty years, could be causing environmental changes with the potential to kill billions. What's strange is how little is seen in the media about peak oil, an issue which in ten or twenty years could be causing economic unrest and wars with the potential to kill hundreds of millions. Both important, and indeed both related, but it's not the issue which requires immediate and drastic action which gets the spotlight; it's the issue where discussions, summits and promises can fool people into thinking something is being done, while we continue to bake the planet with our remaining fossil fuel reserves.
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 2nd December 2003
The oil industry is buzzing. On Thursday, the government approved the development of the biggest deposit discovered in British territory for at least 10 years. Everywhere we are told that this is a â€œhugeâ€� find, which dispels the idea that North Sea oil is in terminal decline. You begin to recognise how serious the human predicament has become when you discover that this â€œhugeâ€� new field will supply the world with oil for five and a quarter days.(1)
Every generation has its taboo, and ours is this: that the resource upon which our lives have been built is running out. We donâ€™t talk about it because we cannot imagine it. This is a civilisation in denial.
Opinions?We seem, in other words, to be in trouble. Either we lay hands on every available source of fossil fuel, in which case we fry the planet and civilisation collapses, or we run out, and civilisation collapses.
The only rational response to both the impending end of the Oil Age and the menace of global warming is to redesign our cities, our farming and our lives. But this cannot happen without massive political pressure, and our problem is that no one ever rioted for austerity. People take to the streets because they want to consume more, not less.