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Willy Week discovers peak oil

Two new books examine the Earth's quickly disappearing oil reserves.
FOSSIL FOOLS: Paul Roberts and David Goodstein look toward the day our oil wells run dry.
REVIEW - The Gas Planet

BY STEFFEN SILVIS

That we are currently at war for fuel is obvious to all but the most blinkered Republican Party hack and the average flag-draped oaf on the street. But this violent scrambling for resources is born more from desperation than from corporate greed, as America has painted itself into a tight corner by basing its entire infrastructure on a finite energy source: oil.

Two new books consider the myopic governmental planning that has brought us to the lip of the proverbial gas hose. Paul Roberts' The End of Oil is an exhaustive study of modern energy production and politics, taking the reader from the dwindling wells of Saudi Arabia to the successful solar-powered German city of Freiberg, stopping en route to gasp at the idiocy that has dragged us into Iraq. David Goodstein's Out of Gas also shudders at the spectacle that is--in the writer's phrase--Oil War II, and warns that this is only the start of chaos unless we wean ourselves off petrochemicals.

Roberts plays journalist to Goodstein's academic. Roberts wanders through the blasted landscape outside of Baku, Azerbaijan, where a hoped-for oil bonanza never materialized, then heads to the world's largest wind-power farm, located outside of Walla Walla, Wash. Roberts reminds us that war in Iraq and coup attempts in Venezuela are related, as the Axis of Ethyl--Cheney, Rummy and Wolfie--have long made it a Neocon priority to topple OPEC and reinvent the oil colonialism of the early 20th century.

Goodstein dives into the history of energy production, detailing where we took wrong turns. A number of individuals stand out in the narrative, including Marion King Hubbert, a geophysicist working for Shell, who correctly predicted in 1956 that America's oil production would peak and then fall in the 1970s. Reaching further back into history, there's the story of Svante August Arrhenius, a Nobel Prize-winning Swedish scientist who in 1896 hypothesized that the burning of fossil fuels would lead to global warming.

Despite these differing approaches, both writers reach the same conclusion: Oil will disappear in this century, so we must take immediate action. Each makes grim prophesies for the future, yet both authors hold out hope that citizens can unite to try and effect change before it's too late.

Still, both warn that alternatives are still a ways away from readiness. Roberts reports encouraging results from bioreactors, including tubes of pond scum that can generate vast amounts of hydrogen, while Goodstein advocates a return to nuclear energy as a stop-gap before other sources are perfected.

Though their floorplans for the future vary slightly, writers Roberts and Goodstein agree that it's already rather late in the day. But if we don't take action, then we will get what we deserve: a boiling planet at war for resources.
Originally published 5/19/2004

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just goes to show 20.May.2004 12:45

indymedia contributer

This just goes to show how much indymedia is pushing other media outlets to cover content. We see it time and time again, a story that is repeatedly covered and discussed here eventually showing up in the corporate media. It takes time and effort but it shows how individuals can affect change and bring silenced issues into the light.

Nat. Geo. too! 20.May.2004 13:02

Todd

National Geographic has an article on Peak Oil in the latest issue. This issue is FINALLY getting some attention.

But all too convenient . . . 20.May.2004 15:59

reader

. . . that the 'attention' suddenly comes as the Mideast is invaded, setting the stage for the fallback of, "But this is why we *had* to go in, otherwise it would be world *chaos* as the oil ran out! Now the US can make the world right by controlling the *source* of the oil."

This way, the left can get on board with the imperialist expansion agenda - there was just *no other way*!

The real question is WHY it took so long for this to come out. And the answer is staring you in the face: Don't let it out until it's worth some money to someone. Someone with the power to suppress it for all this time.

Iraq and the rest of the mideast is big money to some, if they can pull it off. Kerry will be their next effort at that. Then the biggest privatization scheme in history can fucking *finally* move forward! The privatization of every item in Iraq will be a worldwide precedent for the globalists.

It's worth it to them to get the moderates and some of the left on board with the agenda that there was simply no other choice but to take over the oil source - it's running out! We wouldn't want world chaos, now would we? You know what happens when troops pull out, don't you? That's right. Chaos. World chaos. Terrorism. Only troops controlling the oil source can keep the world safe.

Your eyelids are getting heavier . . .