Special Report: Peak Oil

Peak, er, Pique Your Interest?

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.

Shameless Self-Promotion

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.)

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By David (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2006 at 08:01:16

It would be an interesting study to read if someone could learn at what point in history was the turning point for "mainstream" media" becoming censored. Peak Oil is way past prime for becoming a mainstream story. And the article makes point that if it does happen, it will not be reported directly with the possible ramifications - up to and including that possibility of a "post industrial stone age" as some have visioned. Many people don't want to hear of any change to their lifestyle, and will assume things will be fine because thay always have been. The biggest surprise that most people in the USA can ever learn is that big media is highly controlled - even the old goals of breaking stories can't get certain things on the air. Some reasons are that media operatives risk being expelled from govt press conferences, and that the banking cartel owns major stakes in the few remaining major media conglomerates. But even more, there seems to be some kind of new "political correctness" akin to not yelling "fire" in a crowded theater - do not tell the public anything that might make them nervous about their bank accounts or their future, perhaps because so much of the country operates on faith. Media walks a fine line - they love sensational stories that make you believe if you switch the channel, you will miss something important. But they stay away from stories that could undermine that faith in the system on a personal level. Maybe this is a good plan overall except for the person who does make it their business to know what is going on - then it drives you crazy. Yet no matter - the other good point here is well taken - no matter how bad the scenario, everybody still has to gas-up and get to work to make those debt payments, take a vacation, and own the muscle cars. BTW - the video link posted is a fabulous production that will end some neck pain from shaking heads over what is going on in the world.

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