Kevin Moore: Government unprepared for peak oil

Few New Zealanders can have failed to notice the rapid rises in fuel prices over recent months. However, many New Zealanders still do not realise the real reason for these rises. Probably the main reason for this situation is that the Clark government has deliberately downplayed or totally ignored very pertinent facts, in order to mislead the New Zealand public into thinking there is a future in the continued pursuance of it policies, policies that are actually based on ideology, are largely dysfunctional and should have been abandoned years ago.

In 1998, Colin Campbell, world renowned oil geologist, drew attention to the fact that the world was moving rapidly towards Peak Oil and that some time early in the twenty-first century the supply of oil would reach a maximum and then go into decline. Colin Campbell's analysis was based on the previously successful prediction of the peak in production within the [lower 48-state] USA around 1970-72, made by Hubbert. Since 1998, increasing numbers of oil geologists and energy analysts have accepted the validity of imminent Peak Oil. The majority of those connected with the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas now say that Peak Oil will almost certainly occur before 2008, and possibly as early as the latter months of 2005, after which the supply goes down.

We also note that, due to human population growth and the rapid industrialisation of China and India etc., demand for oil is increasing.

It therefore comes as no surprise whatsoever to learn that oil prices have been trending upwards for several years and the trend is accelerating. This reality is recognised by both oil futures traders and investment analysts, some of whom have predicted oil to be trading at US$80 or US$100 later this year.

Regrettably, the Clark government has steadfastly ignored all the geological evidence presented to it by energy analysts such as myself and numerous other individuals, who have tried to prevent 'off the cliff policies' from being pursued, and has chosen to base its energy policies on the pronouncements of a think tank of economists based in Paris, who have no direct access to geological data. This situation is summarised by the whimsical comment that 'economists think themselves better at finding oil than oil geologists!' Thus the Clark government continues to pour millions of dollars of public money into roading projects that have no future whatsoever, because there will be no fuel for the vehicles. It continues to promote globalisation when all the evidence points to a collapse of the global economy over the coming years. It also continues to promote mass tourism when all the evidence points to there being few, if any airlines operational a few years from now.

Needless to say, the National party are co-conspirators in this code of silence and promote similar policies to Labour, except that they propose spending even more money than Labour on infrastructure that will be more or less totally useless a few years hence.

We should also note that the recent hysteria concerning the IEA report that backtracks from its previously rosy projections about oil supply and alerts the world to the possibility of major fuel disruptions, is actually rather old news. The peak-aware community knew of this report in March of 2005 and indeed commented at the time, including it in presentations that were made to city and regional councils.

As a society, we must wonder how much longer this farcical situation of failing to respond to crises and denying reality by the major political parties will continue. The Direct Democracy Party believes the situation can be best described by the expression "continuation of the politics of failure" and believes New Zealand deserves much better.

On the other hand, Direct Democracy recognises that the nation faces the biggest crisis of all time and has already prepared numerous policy initiatives, based on expert analysis of the situation by internationally recognised authorities. Rather than doing nothing to prepare, the Direct Democracy Party advocates informing the public of the situation and taking whatever action is necessary to secure New Zealand's energy future, including taking direct control of energy resources, if this is found to be the best course of action to promote the welfare of the citizens of the nation.

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