I went to hear a quite entertaining presentation by the former comedian, Rod Quantock today, speaking on global warming. Well, we are all doomed and he has a pitch that is well honed and nicely presented. And myself now being ready to believe that we are past peak oil and may well be heading into very rocky terrain no matter whether the planet is warming, cooling or doing nothing at all, I asked what he thinks we should do. So he said, as a joke I suppose, that what we should be doing is starting twenty years ago. Since in his view we are anyway locked into massive heating with water and oil running out in the reasonably near future, and since there is nothing that can now be done about it, I cannot see why he believes it’s his duty to go around terrifying young children about a world with no Tim Tams (well I guess it’s a living). I am a bit on the aged side so most of this when it happens will be well past my bedtime (and his as well since we were born in the same year, apparently), so I might as well keep flying and enjoying life, along with Al Gore and the American President. No self restraint of mine today will make the slightest difference so why bother trying?
Yet in the conversations afterwards although not with him, I trotted out my global cooling story which really is a great pleasure for me in such moments. Because if you really do think we are at peak oil, and who is to say we are not, and we don’t switch pronto to some form of nuclear power, there is no story so pessimistic that it may not fit the facts of the world as it will unfold if oil really does become scarce. I don’t know and you don’t know what is happening. But David Archibald, who teaches strategic energy policy in Washington, wrote this in his Twilight of Abundance:
The logistic decline plot of world oil production shows that the year of peak output arrived in 2005. The oil market began tightening slightly earlier, in June 2004. The oil price today is three times what it was in that year, but oil output has not increased in response to that price signal. The reason it has not is because it cannot. Almost all of the world’s oilfields are producing as fast as their owners can make them. There is only a little spare capacity on the planet. Global production of conventional oil has been flat since 2005. The logistic decline plot tells us that the world’s supply of conventional oil will fall away soon, and rapidly.
There are seven billion on the planet. If we run out of oil without a cheap replacement a very large number of us will not survive into old age. We have the technology to build safe nuclear power but those, too, are off every green agenda. So just for fun, next time you are in such a conversation, do what I did:
Agree that we are running out of oil, in fact insist on it
Point out there are no cheap substitutes for oil
Say you think hundreds of millions if not more may die and relatively soon if some cheap source of energy is not found
Point out that neither wind nor solar are cheap and reliable and cannot be used as a replacement
Ask what should we do?
You will by doing this outdo any green-leftist on the planet with your pessimism. You will leave them as the optimists in the room and you as the only stone cold sober realist. The only problem then comes when you start to wonder yourself whether you might in fact be right. Because what if you are?