Peak oil is about to go mainstream. Will that make any difference?
By Ryan McGreal
Published March 18, 2006
Not long after a leaked internal memo revealed that Kuwait's oil reserves are only half of what's reported, Trevor Shaw reports that Mexico's supergiant Cantarell oilfield is past peak production, with alarming implications for America's continued oil supply.
It looks like the past two years of peak oil news on the margins have primed the mainstream media to take this more seriously. I think the issue is ready to go "prime time" - but at least a decade too late to address it proactively.
Even as these issues creep toward the front pages, I fear the mainstream debate will be superficial and turn mainly on how fast we can roll out Hydrogen Hummers to the suburban masses so they can keep their consensus trance intact. In the meantime, real standards of living will continue to fall and the world will lurch from crisis to crisis, with very few commentators actually connecting the dots but most people intuitively understanding the issues, just as most people understood the Iraq war was mainly about oil without necessarily knowing all the details.
As the United States backs Iran into a diplomatic corner and systematically dismantles the alternatives to military action against a country that is, after all, one hundred percent compliant with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the risk of America's resource war against the Middle East escalating into a global conflict ratchets up yet again.
Unfortunately, because politicians generally fail to draw out the connections between the ways we live and the global problems facing us, from declining oil production to resource conflicts to climate change, many people will also be unable to make the leap from an individual understanding of the issues and stakes to either individual or collective decisions to do something about it.
As never before, we stand at the threshold of a mature civilization: a civilization that lives deliberately within its means and thrives on the daily energy of the sun, rather than gorging on the accumulated energy of millions of years and then burning itself out. All we lack are political leaders with the imagination to think outside the bounds of technocracy and the courage to see beyond what's "politically feasible" according to corporate lobbyists.
Last October, I was interviewed for a documentary on the Iraq war. The documentary, called Conspiracies: Iraq, has since been shown on the British SKY channel, and it includes a few segments of my interview. My own small contribution aside, I thought it does a very good job of covering the issues around America's geostrategic objectives in Iraq.
I'm pretty sure this won't be shown on any North American channels, so I don't feel guilty about directing your attention to a URL where you can download a low-resolution file of the hour-long documentary. Be warned: it's in Real Media format (so you'll need to install the latest free Real Player if you don't already have it) and it's 27 MB, so don't attempt it on a dial-up modem unless you're not expecting any calls.
The file is posted here: http://indybay.org/uploads/conspiraciesiraq.rm. (To view the file without having to install Real Player, you can download the Real Alternative codec for your preferred media player.)
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