Tuesday, 17 August 2004, 11:34 am
Press Release: Powerless New Zealand
“…but there are always some men who cling to one or another of the older views, and they are simply read out of the profession.”
— Thomas S. Khun
ACT politicians ought to heed Khun’s wisdom. The ACT party are decisively on the trajectory of being “read out of the profession” after inferring (The Letter, 17th August 2004) that they had debunked the story that the world is running out of oil.
By way of clarification, the issue isn’t that the world is running out of oil, it will of course, but not for some time. The real issue is that the global production of oil is about to peak, after which we will move into a period of decline, this production decline will be permanent. The most visible issue being supply will not be able to keep pace with global demand.
Khun’s “older views” in this case is the view that the world (and New Zealand) will continue to grow and prosper economically as the finite resource of cheap abundant oil is depleted. This view is wholly naïve, it completely misunderstands the link between oil use and the success of an economy.
The scientific evidence for a peak in oil production occurring circa 2007 is overwhelming.
Dr M. King Hubbert a geophysicist correctly hypothesised in 1956 that U.S. oil production would peak around 1970 and consequently decline. Although scoffed at by industry and economists at the time his scientific methods were consequently corroborated in 1971 when US oil production did indeed peak.
Since 1971 U.S. oil production has been declining to the tune of 3-4% per annum to the extent that today the U.S. depends on imported oil for over half of it’s petroleum requirements.
Since the 70’s Dr Hubbert’s analyses has been used to predict oil production peaks around the world with staggering success.
Hubbert’s work is hard science, solid testable hypothesis that have resulted in verifiable instrumentally reliable results. The global Hubbert Peak, as it is known, predicts global oil production peak around 2007.
The challenge to New Zealand politicians will be how they prepare for and deal with the economic and social fall-out that will ensue as the world moves past the Hubbert Peak.
Political parties clinging to old world ideologies and pseudo-science will be displaced by the next generation’s practitioners, those that are willing to squarely face up to such hard issues.
The necessary transition from a fossil fuel driven economy to some kind of alternative is beginning now. It will bite with vengeance as global oil production fails to meet demand within the next few years, furthermore energy security will increasingly become an issue as primary production of oil coalesces around the Middle East. This transition is likely to be the single greatest challenge that New Zealand as a society has ever had to confront.
Politicians that laugh in the face of such knowledge will become the proverbial carcasses swinging in the wind as the general populous becomes increasingly aware of this issue.
17 August 2004