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Kapiti Observer Thursday, May 18 2006


Peak oil doomsday man and Te Horo resident, Robert Atack, feels vindicated now the country’s political leader, Prime Minister Helen Clark, has finally admitted the world is at peak oil production. «She has publicly stated this fact but the media has not reported the matter, despite its huge ramifications to the global economy and politics. You guys in the media are letting us down,» he said.

On April 18, when questioned about the government’s response to the increase in oil prices, Ms Clark said: «I’m sure it is causing concern in every country because everyone is on the receiving end of the same phenomenon. Which is oil prices [are] very high, because we’re probably not too far short of peak production, if we are not already there.»

On May 2 the Green Party welcomed the acknowledgment. «Helen Clark is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to grasp this fundamental driver of our future and I commend her for this. Still, New Zealanders continue to wait with bated breath for some real action on this issue,» said party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. «Issues such as public transport and finding alternative energy sources can no longer be ignored.» Ms Fitzsimmons said New Zealand should be planning for a post-oil economy.

Mr Atack asked why Kapiti, and the wider region, was going ahead with Transmission Gully, now the Prime Minister had said the world was at peak production.

He also took Kapiti Mayor Alan Milne to task over his recent climate change presentation. «Under local action his presentation urged council to “promote and provoke discussions, debate and understanding” yet it was his council that threatened me with legal action for putting up signs around Kapiti to provoke discussion and understanding of the impending oil crash. They successfully stymied my initiative.

«Matt Simmons the energy investment banker and peak oil advocate argued that 2006 would be the year peak oil would be absorbed into the public consciousness as much as climate change. I’m not sure this would be right in Kapiti.

«It was interesting to note that following Mr Milne’s presentation on climate change the councillors had no questions and preferred instead to break for afternoon tea.»

Mr Atack said Mr Milne and his council had done nothing in the last three years to prepare the community for the impact of peak oil. «I’ve talked to many of my friends and family about peak oil. Almost all of them have done nothing to prepare for peak oil. I think the reason is they believe everything is fine right now,» he said. «There are four million people in New Zealand when the impact of peak oil hits, everyone will want to prepare at the same time and that will be disastrous. «The message is simple prepare now or suffer. I’m not going to harass my friends and family about it. I’ve done my part. It’s their responsibility now.»


Defaced billboard


Robert Atack made national news during the last general elections, when National objected to his message being daubed across their billboards, and he landed a fine and costs of $1500 in court. At the time Mr Atack said he was following advice from National leader Don Brash to all New Zealanders. «He said “if you see a problem in the world and you have the ability to do something about it then it’s your duty to take action” and that’s what I’ve done.»


K Gurunathan