Saudis may pump sand as peak oil casts a giant shadow
After the Guardian reported via Wikileaks that Saudi oil reserves may be a whopping 40% less than they claimed, I’m revisiting a weird idea I’ve had about government, peak oil and climate change. In it, a UK government terrified of the backlash caused by implementing sensible climate change mitigation policies, decides instead on a rather more devious strategy.
They see peak oil on its way, and do absolutely nothing, make no plans at all – just like Monbiot discovered in 2008 when he issued an FOI request asking for details of the government’s plans to address the looming crisis.
For those of you who didn’t see it, this was the official response from the UK government:
“The government does not feel the need to hold contingency plans specifically for the eventuality of crude oil supplies peaking between now and 2020.”
That was 2008. Fast forward a bit, to November 2009, and we discover what I suspect the government already knew: peak oil was a damn site closer than we’d been told, according to a whistle-blower in the IEA (Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower). To all intents and purposes, this is clearly mad, isn’t it? What kind of government would do nothing in the face of such a prospect, such a clear threat to the stability of our economy when we have a crisis so close we can reach out and touch it – or it can reach out and touch our wallets, if you like. Yet the government appears to be doing absolutely fuck all about it. This might seem very strange, unless of course there was an ulterior motive: climate change, and the need to reduce our fossil fuel usage.
Consider it this way: the government cannot implement the drastic measures needed to get our CO2 output down without incurring the wrath of the electorate. What better than to have a convenient scapegoat – a foreign scapegoat to boot – so that when the prices are sky high, the politicians can shrug, point at the barrel price, and wash their hands of any responsibility for the situation.
By being passive, by allowing the crisis to reach its full potential and its highest prices, the UK public will be forced to reduce fuel use, to become more economical, to take more and better steps to prevent waste and excess. Consumerism is built on oil. It is also the principle driver of anthropogenic climate change. If the government cannot, or will not, intercede sufficiently to keep fuel prices down, the effect will be to reduce demand – not just for oil, but for everything, as we effectively recalculate what we desire against what we can afford.
And in this scenario of passive intervention, blame for whatever ills we perceive cannot be laid at the door of our representatives, because they will clearly have done nothing at all – a solution that, from a political perspective, is perfect.
More on this: Peak Oil and Climate Change: No Cod Either