Peak Oil

Running Out of Patience

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 08, 2005

Today's National Post ran a typical screed from ultra-conservative columnist Terence Corcoran, who has turned his sights on the new documentary film The End of Suburbia (reviewed on this site).

It goes without saying that Corcoran rejects the movie's central thesis, but it's worth looking at how he goes about attempting to discredit it.

First, he dismisses the recent report by the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OFCP), "Report on Public Health and Urban Sprawl in Ontario" by calling it "epic junk science" without actually addressing any of its arguments or evidence.

(The OCFP report comes on the heels of a similar report by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, but Corcoran doesn't mention this.)

Corcoran admits that he hasn't seen the film, but that doesn't keep him from pronouncing on it, concluding:

its major agenda is based on the idea that the world is running out of oil. No, that's not quite right. More precisely, the documentary is based on the idea that the world must be running out of oil because we want it to be running out of oil so we can put a stop to all the consumerism and prosperity that, for reasons unknown, the left cannot abide.

First of all, the movie doesn't try to argue that the world is running out of oil, but that the global oil supply is likely to peak soon - meaning half the world's oil will be gone. The issue of oil peak production transcends the false left/right dichotomy of mainstream politics, but why get bogged down in semantics when you have an opportunity to attack the "left"?

Corcoran quotes "one expert" from the movie, who said that "Everything in society we cherish ended when the blackout (of August, 2003) came." Naturally, he takes the quote out of context. The "expert" went on to say, "If that wasn't a fire drill for how important energy actually is ... but people didn't get it. I don't think we actually learned a thing from it."

It's also not surprising that he doens't identify the expert: Matthew Simmons, the president of an energy investment bank and a member of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force. Not a "left" credential to his name.

In dismissing James Howard Kunstler's new book, Corcoran asks parenthetically, "Of course, if the oil age ends there will be no climate change, but who can pass up converging catastrophes?" Talk about junk science: it's entirely possible for climate change to accelerate from the accumulated greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere at the same time that oil production starts to decline.

Corcoran also saves some of his disdain for Vision TV, the cable station broadcasting The End of Suburbia on Wednesday night. Perhaps Corcoran is simply upset that a religious media outlet isn't promoting radical neoconservatism for a change.

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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