It seems that many of the leading ‘social change’ agents are enthusiastically piling on the bandwagon to reinforce, not change, one of the most significant problems now threatening society at both the global and local scale.
Australia's mineral resources rightly belong to this and future generations of Australians, not to foreign corporations. This was what Labor Energy Minister Rex Connor was trying to bring about with the AU$4billion loan that he tried to secure in 1974.
Because Rex Connor had tried to do so through secretive and unorthodox means and had misled Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Parliament, this was seized upon by the Opposition led by Malcolm Fraser and the Murdoch Press to launch a further campaign to destabilise the Whitlam Government. (An earlier attempt had failed when the Australian people re-elected the labor Government in the mid-term election of 18 May 1974. The 1974 election was called by Gough Whitlam in response to a threat by a rigged Senate majority to block the Federal Budget.)
The subsequent Liberal/National Coalition governments of Malcolm Fraser (1975-1983) and John Howard (1996-2007) as well as the purportedly 'Labor' governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating (1983-1996) removed much of the legislative controls that the Australian government had over our mineral resources. As a result our coal, gas and the remnants of Australian petroleum, in addition to metallic ore are being extracted at an ever faster rate for export to countries like China in return for their manufactured produce (much of which ends up in land-fill after a few years).
The latest example of the sell-off of our mineral wealth is plans by the Federal Abbott government to allow foreign corporations to extract our natural gas and export it overseas leaving little for Australians, at inflated prices.
To end this sell-off, a community campaign Reserve Our Gas has been launched.
Russia, although it has known great hardship, has the benefited from this by being in touch with reality and knowing the value of good technological and scientific advice. Putin is highly intelligent and uses the media brilliantly, aiming at intellectuals who have become disgusted with the western mainstream media. He treats material in a complex and verifiable way, rather than relying on slogans and ideology. He has forged alliances all over the world with countries that the United States has alienated. Most of them have energy reserves of their own and want alternative markets.
The US has been touting itself as a future supplier of gas to Europe in what Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert have called, "A hoax energy policy in america using phoney numbers." You wonder how the United States itself, let alone Europe, the UK and various sycophants like Australia could have fallen for this. Are the US and EU leaders the actual fraudsters? Max Keiser thinks that these leaders are simply too economically and technologically uneducated to see through the bankster spin.
Bloomberg: Cost of fracking in the US greatly exceeds returns
On 25 October 2013 in "EIA should provide data on cost of North American shale gas exploitation to make balanced reports," I asked EIA spokesman, Dr Fawsi, to tell me what the cost of production in fracking was. He said the EIA had the information but would not release it. However Bloomberg obtained the relevant information and published it in February under the headline: Bloomberg"Dream of US Oil independence slams against shale costs."
"Just a few of the roadblocks: Independent producers will spend $1.50 drilling this year for every dollar they get back." And, "Shale output drops faster than production from conventional methods. It will take 2,500 new wells a year just to sustain output of 1 million barrels a day in North Dakota's Bakken shale, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Iraq could do the same with 60."
The video linked to at the top of this article tells us how this works: Companies get finance for shale-oil/fracking schemes that cannot break even and then abandon the schemes and the financier and shareholders. They pocket all the financial fees from creating the debt and walk away from the ecological damage and the unrecoverable debt. Max Keisor aptly describes these actors as 'financial terrorists'.
Stacey Herbert asks Max Keiser, ""Who are these people that can spend a $1.50 to earn a dollar?"
Keiser replies, "Banks, which create the debt. It's like the old joke, you lose a dollar for every unit you sell, but you make up on the volume.""
It works the same way for big development schemes, which cannot make money for their investors for the same reason that fracking cannot, that is, because the real cost of materials and fuel have largely obliterated profit margins. We are in a post-cheap petroleum world where profits can only be puffed up by spin.
Melbourne, Australia: EastWest Link and other dodgy developments
The East-West Link project which so many in Melbourne, Australia are protesting about, has been promoted with projections of fuel costs declining over the next ten years. You would not think that any competent government could believe such a scenario. Is it incompetence, ideology - or are our governments simply acting on behalf of the banksters when they force taxpayers to commit to massive structural engineering projects in the service of a ballooning population?
The Australian Government is proposing to get rid of two organisations: - the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation - that make money by investing in companies producing renewable energy products. They have rightly been criticised for this by Jenny Goldie, President of Sustainable Population Australia, who wrote on :
"There is no rational basis for this move, merely senseless ideology. Even if the government is so scientifically illiterate as to reject climate change, there is a need to shift to renewable energy in light of impending peaks of oil and gas." Jenny Goldie, The Age "Letters", 25 May 2014.
But, is it just ideology or it possible that the government actually believes that alternative energies represent a threat, as in competition, to their corporate friends who have invested in fossil fuels and nuclear? My understanding of flow energies and the finitude of uranium and untested nature of thorium supply and the commercial inviability of GenIV reactors leads me to believe that there is no competition with these fossil fuels, technologies and elements in terms of quantum of energy from flow energies.
Apart from not wanting to exacerbate climate change, the point of alternative/flow energies is that as fossil fuels become less and less available to people, they need alternatives to survive according to basic requirements.
Even so, those flow energies are not going to provide even the basics, if we do not allow population to decline.
Unfortunately the Australian government really seems to be taken in by economic dematerialisation spin on the one hand and by underestimates of likely draw-down on coal and other fossil fuels over the next fifty years as they are called upon to replace petroleum fuels. Our government - like the United States' - behaves as if gas is in endless supply and as if fracking will be an effortless bonanza. Perhaps this failure to carefully study the matter stems from the fact that Australians have not yet actually had to survive serious interruptions to fossil fuel supply... yet ... such as happened to European countries involved in WW1 and WW2, who take this prospect seriously. Australia's petroleum supplies have, however, more or less dried up. We are going to be relying on increasingly dirty fuels to supply power. We cannot afford to build anything like the quantity of nuclear power plants our population would require just to replace its current electricity consumption.
As an Australian, I do not crow about this, but I could see it coming a long time ago. I know that the world could, in theory, survive energy decline if the power-elite would only allow populations to decline in size; if the unions and business would allow us all to start working (and therefore producing and consuming) half as much. Without constant growth in population, prices for resources and housing would not keep climbing. Quite quickly housing prices would drop. Energy resources and water would reduce more slowly, in line with population. We would not need to work so many hours, each of us, merely to pay rent or mortgages. We would have time to live and engage politically in communities which themselves would naturally relocalise, in view of adapting to declining energy reserves less supportive of daily commuting and longer journeys. 
 "Russia Reveals Official Data on Oil and Hydrocarbon Reserves For The First Time", Oil & gas Eurasia, July 12, 2013.
 Sheila Newman, "France and Australia after oil," Chapter 19, Sheila Newman, Ed., The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed., Pluto Press, 2008.
 "Countering propaganda with simple solutions: Propaganda about a ‘dematerialised economy’ makes it hard to establish the reality that material industrial productivity is not actually less reliant on burning fossil fuels than it was in the 1970s, and that drawdown on fossil fuels has in fact been multiplied by the needs of much greater populations. Similarly the obvious still needs to be pointed out that increasing productivity means burning more fuel and outputting more pollution, accelerating petroleum depletion and adding more greenhouse gases. Not only do we not need all the goods we produce for consumption at home or abroad, we do not need the income they bring, and their acquisition is a poor compensation for lives given to industry. Wonderful jobs are few and far between. No-one wants to give those up. Some people also derive much of their social life from work but they would derive similar benefits, and perhaps more status and satisfaction, from other community activities. And plenty of people reach a stage of maturity where childlike obedience to workplace regimes in the cause of producing more and more widgets in different colours, or processing more and more customers a day, with unflinching subservience, challenges every natural instinct.
Instead of those complicated international agreements about percentile reductions in emissions over the years to come, which are hardly enforceable or even measurable, remaining mostly in the control of the corporate emitters, the solution lies much closer at hand, and could ultimately be controlled at grass-roots levels by the masses themselves. Relocalisation is obviously the best way to develop the solidarity and self-sufficiency to reorganize work.
Political commentator and climate activist, Clive Hamilton, writes in Growth Fetish,
Reduction in working hours is the core demand for the transition to post-growth society. Overwork not only propels overconsumption but is the cause of severe social dysfunction, with ramifications for physical and psychological health as well as family and community life. The natural solution to this is the redistribution of work, a process that could benefit both the unemployed and the overworked. (Hamilton, Clive, Growth Fetish, Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2003 and Pluto Press UK, 2005, last chapter, especially, pp.218-220)
He remarks that “Moves to limit overwork … directly confront the obsession with growth at all costs,” and talks about the liberation of workers “from the compulsion to earn more than they need.”
Because growth is sustained by a constant ‘barrage of marketing and advertising’ Hamilton wants advertising taxed and removed from the public domain, and television broadcast hours limited so as to “allow people to cultivate their relationships, especially with children.”
It should be obvious that the slower we work, the more fuel will remain, the less greenhouse gas will be emitted. If the populations which have ballooned to unimaginable proportions since the 1950s were allowed to return (through natural attrition) to more natural sizes by 2050, and the economy permitted to slow, it would take the heat off the planet and us as well. With so much less effort we could make such a positive difference to the planet and to our personal effectiveness." Original Source: Sheila Newman, Ed., "101 Views from Hubbert's Peak,"Chapter 1, The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, UK, 2008
The supply of the world's most essential energy source is going off a cliff. Not in the distant future, but within two years. Production of all liquid fuels, including oil, will drop within 20 years to half what it is today. And the difference needs to be made up with "unidentified projects" – in other words, we face a potential ‘rank shortage’. According to this graph, we stand on the edge of a precipice, with no prior warning from either the industry or governments, which ostensibly protect the public interest.
Edited and extrapolated from an article by Nicholas C. Arguimbau, 23 April, 2010.
Additional material compiled by Brian McGavin, writer and analyst.
Look at the graph below and worry. It was drawn by the United States Department of Energy (Energy Information Administration) in 2009.
What does it imply? The supply of the world's most essential energy source is going off a cliff. Not in the distant future, but within two years. Production of all liquid fuels, including oil, will drop within 20 years to half what it is today. And the difference needs to be made up with "unidentified projects" – in other words, we face a potential ‘rank shortage’. According to this graph, we stand on the edge of a precipice, with no prior warning from either the industry or governments, which ostensibly protect the public interest.
The original graph is available at: www.eia.doe.gov/conference/2009/session3/Sweetnam.pdf
The graph was prepared for a US Department of Energy meeting in spring, 2009.
Take a good look at what it says:
• We are past the peak of oil production. Conventional oil will be substantially gone in 20 years, and there is nothing secure to replace it;
• Total petroleum production from all presently known sources, conventional and unconventional, will remain "flat" at approximately 83 mbpd for the next two years and then will proceed to drop, at first slowly but by 4% per year after 2015.
• Demand will begin to outstrip supply in 2012, and will already be 10 million barrels per day above supply in only five years. The United States Joint Forces Command concurs with these findings. http://www.jfcom.mil/newslink/storyarchive/2010/JOE_2010_o.pdf.
• 10 million bpd is equivalent to half the United States' entire consumption. To make up the difference, the world would have to find another Saudi Arabia and get it into full production in five years, an impossibility. See The Oil Drum, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5154
• The shortfall, labelled "unidentified projects," that needs to be filled in 18 years is 60 million barrels per day, equivalent to 3/4 of today's total production, on the basis of a very conservative estimate of only 1% annual growth in global energy demand. Yet the rate of discovery of new conventional oil has been steadily dropping now for FORTY years despite evermore searching with more sophisticated technology.
The curve is virtually identical to one produced by geologists Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere, published in "The End of Cheap Oil," in Scientific American, March, 1998. They projected that production of petroleum from conventional sources would drop from 74 mbpd in 2003 (as compared to 84 mbpd in 2008 in the DOE graph) and drop to 39 mbpd by 2030 (the same as the DOE).
The world was completely transformed by oil for the duration of the twentieth century, but if the graph is right, within 20 years it will be vastly depleted as we face rising demand and trying to support over 4 billion more people in just 40 years. Here are just some of the issues:
• zero time to plan for the replacement of oil in its essential role in EVERY industry;
• zero time to plan how to replace cars and transport in our daily lives, and distribute agricultural produce and manufactured goods;
• zero time to manufacture and install millions of home energy installations to replace fossil fuel-sourced heating;
• zero time to plan for replacement of the largest military establishment in history, almost completely dependent upon oil;
• zero time to plan for supporting a global population that, at currently fertility rates, is heading for over 11 billion people by 2050 - without the "green agricultural revolution," made possible by the age of oil and where over two billion are already suffering from malnutrition;
• zero time to plan how to re-power tractors essential to producing food on a large scale;
• imperilled water pumping and sewage plants, dependent on fossil fuel energy to work.
In a world without oil that will hit us hard in less than twenty years, there will be few oil-burning ships transporting grain and other goods to the billions now dependent on them, or oil-burning airlines serving the world's major cities and the vital global tourist economy. Yet in September 2011 the Airbus Company predicts that the global passenger plane fleet will more than double by 2030. They are in dreamland. We are heading rapidly towards a minefield of lethal limits with little thought for the future.
The most frequently discussed source of unexploited petroleum is the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, but as a high percentage of their energy value has to be used in their extraction, the quantity of reserves is misleading. Two independent researchers have estimated that production from the tar sands by 2020 may be around 3.3 million bpd to 4 million bpd. Consequently, the likelihood of tar sands making a significant contribution to the world's petroleum demand is low. (Phil Hart and Chris Skrebowski, "Peak oil: A detailed and transparent analysis”. ) http://www.energybulletin.net/node/30537. Tar sand extraction is also very polluting.
Renewable energy. No substitutes for oil have been developed on anything like the scale required, and most are very poor net energy performers. Despite potential, renewable sources (other than hydropower or traditional wood) currently provide less than 1 per cent of the energy used in the world and the annual increase in the use of most fossil fuels is much greater than the total production in electricity from wind turbines and photovoltaics. Oil consumption is now outpacing new discoveries by a rate of around 3:1. (Professor Charles Hall)
So is nuclear power, with its potentially critical contamination risks, the great hope? Nuclear fission generates around 20 per cent of electrical energy needs in many industrial countries – much less in developing countries. Most uranium deposits are found in concentrations of 2% or less. Even a potential doubling in number of fission reactors across the world could see commercially extractable uranium ore run out in just 20 to 30 years.
(David Fleming, nuclear energy analyst)
A transition to genuinely sustainable living and the role of government
The current economic crisis in many developed nations has revealed the fragile inter-dependence of the globalised economy, where many countries can be involved in the supply chain to produce a single component manufactured in one of them. Once plentiful oil supplies are running down rapidly, the 'globalised' economy this has supported will have to rethink completely.
Though the economy and GDP is growing in some places, most of us are no longer getting wealthier and in many countries performance has collapsed. The average wage in the US is less now, in real terms than it was 30 years ago. It is GDP per person that is important. More than 60 countries around the world have seen incomes per person fall in the past decade.
Where is the strategic thinking to build a genuinely sustainable economy in a sustainable environment? We have to recognise that the endless “growth is good” mantra facing a future of rapidly diminishing natural resources no longer serves our future well being. We have to rethink economic growth and the excesses of our globalised economy and manage a transition to a qualitative self-supporting economy that satisfies our needs and works reasonably well without continual growth, with goods lasting as long as possible
A ‘dynamic, steady-state economy’ neither grows nor contracts. The door is open for investments, but they are directed toward activities that promote development over growth. “We need to start measuring exactly what we want to maximise or optimise, and plan for resilience and sustainability.” (Rob Dietz, executive director, CASSE www.steadystate.org)
There is a vast amount that could be done at the micro and macro scale without impacting on our lives, which would lessen the shock of survival in an energy-scarce world. Alongside the need to stabilise and gradually reduce global birth rates and huge associated infrastructure costs to a sustainable level, we can cut back on so much unnecessary production and product obsolescence. Some reductions many people would welcome. To name just a few:
• less road lighting in the country and reduced but better optics lighting in our towns to preserve the night sky; as well as cutting lighting at night in offices;
• cutting TV advertising screens in supermarkets;
• cutting back multiple TVs installed in bars;
• cutting back the multiple, unsolicited mail-shots falling out of papers and through our doors;
• cutting multiple daily flights on short-haul domestic routes, by using high-speed trains;
• banning further production of gas-guzzling performance vehicles.
Still we carry on with our head in the sands, wasting resources on an epic scale. There has been little forewarning and planning. It is time for communities to prepare for community energy independence, food security – not more office blocks on prime agricultural land, and less growth, not more. Every local and national authority needs to start now to address these huge challenges seriously. Our children won’t thank us for inheriting a world taken to an abyss.
The chapters I submitted to The Final Energy Crisis 2 are the ones on the connections between fossil energy resources and food production in Japan and North Korea (DPRK). If you have any questions or comments about the content of these chapters, I will be very happy to hear from you, and also to reply to you on this blog. If it is necessary to give more than a short answer, I may start a new blog topic based on your question or comment.
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