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Peak oil and government question
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clv101
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject: Peak oil and government question Reply with quote

Here?s a question I was asked a while ago and didn?t a decent answer for. Can anyone else suggest a decent answer for this question?

How is it possible for an amateur like me to see evidence for a looming global energy crisis that isn?t seen by government? Why doesn?t government with it?s hundreds of civil servants have a far better understanding of what?s in store for the global oil market than I do? If the government think that global peak oil is still a few decades away and I think it?s a few years away what information do they have that I don?t?

The gist of the point is that lack of action from global governments is evidence for lack of imminent peak oil problem since if there was a problem as serious as we believe peak oil is then governments would know about it and all be addressing it.

So what?s wrong with this argument? Why doesn?t lack of governmental action indicate a lack of problem?
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rs



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably because that would be an admission that the global economy has failed. Can you imagine 6.5 billion people (at least in the west anyway) panicking ? Absolute chaos. There's no way a government can afford to start something like that. Which is why I think they'll try and maintain business as usual for as long as possible or at least hope that the market will come up with solutions ie. technological, demand destruction etc..
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rs



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also consider that those in power (government and big business) are usually far wealthier than us mere mortals. In order for them to hold on to that they need us worker ants to continue going to work, buying all the crap that is marketed to us, paying our taxes and so on. Economic collapse might keep them safe for a while but not indefinitely.

Our current way of life pretty much keeps people under control. Take that away and there probably isn't much holding us together.
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Totally_Baffled



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe they accept PO, but believe the IEA's timings. After all, the IEA supposed to be the 'experts' and have all the analysts you describe.

Its a good question though Chris. Even if the IEA is correct(2025ish) , why the hell are we STILL planning massive airport expansions, planning 1.1m+ homes and allowing such levels of immigration.

They must know , surely that was the reason for Iraq.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris - the answer is simple. Just two words are needed to explain it.

Jimmy Carter

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/filmmore/ps_energy.html

Quote:
Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly.

It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century.

We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren.

We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.

Two days from now, I will present my energy proposals to the Congress. Its members will be my partners and they have already given me a great deal of valuable advice. Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices...........................


Perhaps the point to make is that an "amateur" is able to admit the existence of a coming energy crunch, rather like the position of retiring oil company personnel. No politician wants to go the way of Jimmy Carter.
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GD



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
So what?s wrong with this argument? Why doesn?t lack of governmental action indicate a lack of problem?


The argument simply does not follow (non-sequitur logic). It implies that the government is capable of handling the problem, should it actually be able to see it. I think there is a resource linked to on the powerswitch portal which says the government is doing their bit (invading Iraq, etc?)

I think some parts of govt will see it (Hemming, Meacher, etc) perhaps it is even known about in the higher levels (cabinet), but remains unspoken because the government really is quite incapable of doing anything about it (by themselves)!

This article I have posted previously (G8 nations and making poverty history) sheds light on lack of government action. As off-topic as it might seem - it?s of high relevance. Link to article.

Quote:
?what about politicians and governments? With no barriers to capital and employment moving instantly to any country where costs are lower and profits therefore higher, how should we expect governments to unilaterally impose increased regulations or taxes on business when that would only invite employment and investment to de-camp elsewhere? This collective governmental fear has become so ingrained and accepted that it has long since attracted its own code-name. For whenever you see the phrase, "maintaining our international competitiveness", you will be witnessing an unspoken inter-governmental race-to-the-bottom; a vicious circle which forces every nation to down-level social and environmental protection so as to better out-bid competitor nations for capital and jobs.
?
And that is why nothing changes except that our problems only get worse. Because governments, too, - even the G-8 - are largely powerless to buck the vicious circle of global capital flows over which they have no significant control.
?
Sacrificing society and the environment thus becomes neatly and logically justified by the ever-present need for each nation to "improve its international competitiveness". In failing to realise that economic competition becomes destructive when it fails to occur within a framework of adequate global regulations which protect society and the environment, the WTO, WB and IMF serve only to exacerbate the problems they think they?re solving. They are not in control. There is no pilot in the cockpit?


(Yes, this is about SimPol again, if anyone would like to help me get the Rimini protocol into it, get in touch, cheers.)

(Oh, yes Bandidoz, the Carter example would put anyone off!)
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newmac
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Read: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
Read or watch: The Corporation
Think about how our electoral system works, think about how trustworthy the type of person who goes into politics is, think about people only being human (i.e. we can achieve anything) and being very busy
Think about the impact on the finacial markets and the population if they did admit it.
Think about the constant mantra that the market will solve everything and supply and demand are our best friends
Think about who has more access to the government - you or Lord Browne of BP

It actually becomes pretty obvious that they will deny it.
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johnhemming



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very few politicians take any risks with arguing something that does not fit somewhere within the conventional wisdom.

Firstly, they have to be confident in the intellectual basis.

Secondly, they have to take a risk that they may be wrong.

What will happen with peak oil is that it will move from the wacky fringe (which is where it is as far as the media is concerned) into central stage.

Gas shortages this winter might help as part of showing the problems. In the mean time campaigning on the basis of the Peak Oil EDM would be effective.

I am particularly concentrating on the issue of predict and provide for air flight. It is a "low hanging fruit" on this agenda (and that of climate change).
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Joe



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Peak oil and government question Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
So what?s wrong with this argument? Why doesn?t lack of governmental action indicate a lack of problem?


The argument overlooks Iraq & Afghanistan. I wouldn't say that the government has failed to act; I'd say it has failed to act responsibly.

Remember that the party political process constrains the government to act strictly in the short term; faced with the problem of peak oil and the challenge of re-election, the government had 2 choices:

1. Tell the electorate that everything is going to get more expensive, they'll have to sell their cars, forget foreign holidays, kiss goodbye to that big pile of equity they've saved up in their 3 bed semi, and that they'll probably lose their jobs and struggle to feed their kids.

2. Assert our military dominance over an oil-rich nation (Iraq) or a nation that is strategically placed for running a pipeline from the Caspian sea to the Indian Ocean (Afghanistan) with impoverished populace who are run by easily demonised "bad guys" like Saddam Hussein & the Taliban.

Option 1 isn't the easiest manifesto to sell for an incumbent party.

Option 2 means that UK oil companies can get their hands on a share of the oil to fill the gap being created by declining North Sea reserves to prop the economy up for a little longer and make the voters feel better about "our way of life and everything we stand for etc" for long enough to vote them back in for another term.
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PS_RalphW



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking from a position of considerable ignorance, I would hazard that
individuals within government are indeed aware of at least the technical
issues of peak oil, but these would be generally rather junior people
within the heirarchies, and would have little direct contact with the
decision makers. The decision makers would be presented with
reports and analyses refined and honed by the middle layers who would
have considerable interest in not rocking the boat, and in preventing their
bosses from having time to do any direct research in areas they have
little direct expertise in anyway. They will have spent years or even
decades refining policies and agendas, and they will take a dim view
of junior staff reports which throw a major spanner in the works.

I have had some limited experience of government beurocracies in a research and
an operational quango, and senior management who made decisions
did so with no discernable reference to the realities at the lowest
level where I operated.

All this of course would be independant of outside lobby groups,
interdepartmental quid pro quo and infighting, etc., etc., which
would the primary pre-occupation of the decision makers.

Governments have huge inertia which can only be overcome by
Prime Ministers making policy ad lib in the middle of speeches, which
then have to backed up by token action.
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DamianB
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's two groups of people or types of thinking to consider here. There are people who don't think 'outside the box', can't do so even and have so much of their reality (pension, mortgage, annual holiday, house price, work ethic, sense of fairness, etc) vested in the status quo, that its literally impossible for them to contemplate any sort of discontinuity. They cannot believe that the market won't find a solution and contemplating the impact of energy economics might cause them to break down. The second group has a questioning mind and is ALWAYS asking why?, who benefits? and these people 'get' peak oil by degrees as their knowledge increases.

Lots of people in government aren't specialists and behave like people in the first group. They rely on IEA for energy advice and these people have little to gain by sticking their necks out. Oil companies want to keep supplying the drug as long as possible. Those in government who do get peak oil continue to promote the BAU message because they don't have an accecptable solution for a populace who are also largely Type I.

What they want to happen is for the expectations of Joe Public to change slowly, at a pace that doesn't dislocate them or the economy. This is an unofficial, unwritten plan that we in the know get sneak insights into now and again. A good example of this was Brown's plea to OPEC for more transparency on reserves after the G8 meeting earlier in the year - innocuous to most but loaded to peakniks.

I think that your expectation for the cabinet to act in our best interests is misguided - they have their egos and world alliances to manage plus huge pressure from business.
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skeptik



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Peak oil and government question Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
Here?s a question I was asked a while ago and didn?t a decent answer for. Can anyone else suggest a decent answer for this question?

How is it possible for an amateur like me to see evidence for a looming global energy crisis that isn?t seen by government?


Politics is the art of the possible. We pay them to lie to us in order to keep us happy so they can get things done. At the higher level, the function of the civil servant is also to lie for the maximum benefit his/her country.

a) Politicians are not in the business of telling us bad news. If they do they won't get elected ( though they do play the fear card sometimes when they want to abolish individual liberties e.g. trial by jury)

Generally the name of the democratic game is to persuade the electorate that life will get better and better under their rule and worse under their opponents. Most people are happy enough to go along with this game, mostly by ignoring it, most of the time. except once every 5 years when its time to put an X on a piece of paper.

'Global energy crisis' doesnt exactly fit the normal game plan... no votes in it.

and ..

b) NIMTOOF... which is the governmental variant of NIMBY.

Not In My Turn Of OfFice. Im not going to rock the boat and upset people by tackling anything difficult or disruptive. If I do that Carlyle Group or Haliburton or BP might not feel inclined to give me that fat well paid directorship they promised once I'm out of office. (Got to make some retirement money somehow - a cabinet minister gets payed peanuts and man cannot live on kudos alone!)

so... if theres a problem... I think I'll just fend it off and let my successor deal with it. It's only another few years till the next election after all...thats not going to make much difference in the wider scheme of things. Is it?

... and you have to remember that many politicians are economists or lawyers - or they've been in politics nearly all their lives and never had a real job for any length of time. I.E. Thy're at one remove from reality. I wouldnt really expect them to understand. Look at the cock up they made of the British nuclear industry over the years. Hopeless.

The function of the civil servant is to maintain continuity, shift blame, and *not* rock the boat. Government politicians get their info mainly from civil servants.
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Totally_Baffled



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are some interesting answers here , but still, I think we do not have a satisfactory answer to the question (do not mean that in a horrible way , I just think something is still not quite right Sad )

Lets assume the government knows about PO. I think that is a reasonable assumption given the invasion of Iraq based on some ridiculous evidence of WMD.

Now I accept the government has to give some perception of 'business as usual' , or the economy goes completely down the toilet. Also they have interest in getting in re elected. Thats a given.

But what I do not understand is that there a number of decisions the government could easily influence which would help enormously in a post peak UK.

Here are some examples:

-- Airport expansion. If the government turned these down, the public would not give a ****. It would actually be a potential vote winner. The people in the vacinity of gatwick , heathrow etc would be very pleased.

-- 2012 Olympics This is a' nice to have', if we didnt get it (o what a shame!) then I dont believe this would of lost the government any political capital.

-- T Blair mortgaging a ?3 million mansion on projections of US lecture curcuit earnings (is he mad????? Shocked - 2009 we are talking about here)

-- House building program Again , this is going to make very little difference in the currently very over heated housing bubble. So why the **** bother? Why not keep that land aside for the post peak world? nobody would of even noticed and the government certainly wouldnt of lost any votes.

-- Road charging proposals , Why the hell are the government even bothering looking into this? No one is going to be able to run a car in 2012 + let alone instal GPS gizmos to charge us by the mile. FFS!

-- Cutting back armed services - We are led to believe it will be one big resource war post peak , so if this is the case , why is the UK scaling back the armed services? We now only have one aircraft carrier in service. What a joke, without the yanks , we aint securing any resources by force!!!

There are so many examples of this. There are so many issues the government could of left alone to favour a post peak world, which the voter would not of given a shit about , yet they have gone ahead and done the complete opposite. Why? , for god sake.....??

The one issue that nearly lost them power was Iraq, I understand (sort of) the thinking behind that , but the rest of it is lost on me.

What is everone elses thoughts?

I just do not get it....
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revdode



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 10:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Peak oil and government question Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
How is it possible for an amateur like me to see evidence for a looming global energy crisis that isn’t seen by government? Why doesn’t government with it’s hundreds of civil servants have a far better understanding of what’s in store for the global oil market than I do? If the government think that global peak oil is still a few decades away and I think it’s a few years away what information do they have that I don’t?


This may seem a little simple but perhaps they aren't looking?

More seriously I think this points to the gulf between what most of us experience and reality, whatever that is. We all exist to a greater or lesser extent in our own particular view of reality and we choose to consume media which reinforce our prejudices and view. Most of us who read and post here probably started off from a place which made acceptance of the idea of peak oil fairly easy for us. For some others possibly the majority this just isn't a case of another small step down the path, for them it requires jumping completely off their map and into another reality.

Apologies if that isn't entirely coherent, Robert Anton Wilson generally explains it better than I can.

The good news is that we may be wrong, maybe we are missing something, maybe we have the incomplete map, maybe their faith in technology to conjure up some more black gold out of the planet is well placed. I try to keep an open mind but no one who explains peak oil has expected me to have faith in anything other than the finite.
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skeptik



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Totally_Baffled wrote:

Lets assume the government knows about PO.


Ok..But what do they know?

As is evident from the sources they quote in Govt white papers
They know what the IEA and EIA tells them.

http://www.iea.org/Textbase/press/pressdetail.asp?PRESS_REL_ID=159
?There is no shortage of oil and gas in the ground, but quenching the world?s thirst for them will call for major investment in modern technologies?

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/issues.html
"Look Mom! It just keeps going up and up!"
"Well thats all right then dear... "


Last edited by skeptik on Mon Oct 03, 2005 11:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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