Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hooray for The Nation!

Earlier this week, a leaked cable from Wikileaks caused a little stir in the blogosphere. It even got some mainstream media (MSM) coverage, though it was greater in England than the US. Here is the report from The Guardian:

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

Aerial View of Oil Refinery
Saudi oil refinery. WikiLeaks cables suggest the amount of oil that can be retrieved has been overestimated. Photograph: George Steinmetz/Corbis

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.
The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.
However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.
According to the cables, which date between 2007-09, Husseini said Saudi Arabia might reach an output of 12m barrels a day in 10 years but before then – possibly as early as 2012 – global oil production would have hit its highest point. This crunch point is known as "peak oil".

On a Democratic Underground thread on the subject started by Newsjock, I added this comment:

Posted by robertpaulsen in Latest Breaking News
Wed Feb 09th 2011, 09:58 PM
As I detailed in STORY #4 in my UNDER THE RUG report, global production of conventional oil peaked in 2006, according to the International Energy Agency. Now after reading the Guardian's report on the Wikileak cables, if al-Husseini is referring to total reserves in Saudi Arabia, meaning not just conventional oil but natural gas liquids and unconventional oil, I think that the decline is going to be a whole lot steeper than anyone has anticipated if Saudi Arabia has indeed overstated its total reserves by 40 percent. Remember that 25 percent of the total oil reserves in the world are in Saudi Arabia. Once their production is in irreversible decline, $3.50 a gallon will be the good old days. I don't think the issue any longer is when Peak Oil will occur, the issue is how long will the plateau last before the inevitable decline?

Of course, if there's a revolution in Saudi Arabia, which might be in its initial stages, then the point is moot if the people of Saudi Arabia decide that pricing their oil in dollars is not in their best interests. Can you imagine President Obama responding to such an event by voiding the Carter Doctrine? Do you think Dick Cheney was only speaking for neo-cons when he said, "The American way of life is not negotiable"? Are you reading the same writing on the wall that I am?

Recently I discovered that Dick Cheney was not the first White House Republican to say, "The American way of life is not negotiable". At the Earth Summit in 1992, George H.W. Bush forcefully declared, "The American way of life is not negotiable." But both men were talking about the same thing: US oil consumption. What is tragic is that they don't realize how right they really are. You don't negotiate with the Real Primal Forces of Nature. If the American way of life is predicated on an economic infrastructure rooted in infinite growth dependent on non-renewable resources, there's no room to negotiate! You either adapt to the reality that this way of life is no longer sustainable, or you lose that way of life, if not life itself.

Which brings me back to what I think is the most important point in my comment: I don't think the issue any longer is when Peak Oil will occur, the issue is how long will the plateau last before the inevitable decline? If we are going to adapt to the reality that our way of life is no longer sustainable, we must stop debating when and start acting now. That means being aware of the complete ramifications of Peak Oil/Global Climate Change and taking the time to prepare yourself and your loved ones to the best of your ability to adapt to the social/political/economic reactions to this reality as it comes. Think Globally Act Locally should no longer be a sentimental hippie slogan, it should be a mantra for personal sustainability.

While MSM has had a pretty pathetic track record in preparing people for this eventuality, I have to give huge praise to The Nation for their recent attempt to do so. Throughout the months of January, February and March, The Nation is publishing a series of videos on their website to educate people about the twin crises of Peak Oil and Global Climate Change:

Peak Oil and a Changing Climate

The scientific community has long agreed that our dependence on fossil fuels inflicts massive damage on the environment and our health, while warming the globe in the process. But beyond the damage these fuels cause to us now, what will happen when the world's supply of oil runs out?

Peak Oil is the point at which petroleum production reaches its greatest rate just before going into perpetual decline. In “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate,” a new video series from The Nation and On The Earth productions, radio host Thom Hartmann explains that the world will reach peak oil within the next year if it hasn’t already. As a nation, the United States reached peak oil in 1974, after which it became a net oil importer.
Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg and the other scientists, researchers and writers interviewed throughout “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” describe the diminishing returns our world can expect as it deals with the consequences of peak oil even as it continues to pretend it doesn’t exist. These experts predict substantially increased transportation costs, decreased industrial production, unemployment, hunger and social chaos as the supplies of the fuels on which we rely dwindle and eventually disappear.
Chomsky urges us to anticipate the official response to peak oil based on how corporations, news organizations and other institutions have responded to global warming: obfuscation, spin and denial. James Howard Kunstler says that we cannot survive peak oil unless we “come up with a consensus about reality that is consistent with the way things really are.” This documentary series hopes to help build that consensus. Click here to watch the introductory video, and check back here for new videos each Wednesday.

They just released the video for Noam Chomsky yesterday, which is excellent. Future interviews to be released include Thom Hartmann, Greg Palast and my favorite, Mike Ruppert. I encourage everyone to watch, learn and prepare!

1 comment:

Robert Paulsen said...

I want to HIGHLY RECOMMEND watching the interview with Nicole Foss!

It lasts about 40 minutes, but she does a phenomenal job explaining how the ride up Hubbert's Peak creates an economic positive feedback loop, whereas the ride down Hubbert's Peak creates an economic negative feedback loop. She also has a great response to the Cheney quote I mentioned in my OP: "Reality is not going to negotiate with you!"