Friedemann here argues that leaders understand the threat and intractability of peak oil and thus actively mislead their citizens.
She might be right but I think it more probable that our leaders are as deeply in denial as their citizens about our predicament. After all, the inherited behaviors of leaders are the same as the inherited behaviors of their citizens.
While it’s true that leaders have more access to peak oil data and analysis, I know from many years of close observations that data and analysis do not shift the beliefs of most people, especially when it involves unpleasant realities their genes wish to deny like mortality, climate change, peak oil, and overshoot.
I see evidence everywhere that our leaders are in denial.
How is it possible that not one leader anywhere in the world speaks frankly about peak oil, even after leaving office? Jimmy Carter, the one leader that tried to prepare society, is silent in his latest book in which he frankly discusses most big problems except peak oil.
If leaders understand peak oil and its implications, how is it possible that not one leader anywhere advocates population reduction, degrowth, or Colin Campbell’s depletion protocol. These policies would help with all of our overshoot issues and thus could be sold without even mentioning peak oil.
How is it possible that (aware) leaders continue to invest in projects like airports, highways, and pipelines? It would be easy to impede these wasteful projects that will strand precious resources without publicly acknowledging peak oil.
How is it possible that political parties with an environmental and sustainability foundation, like the Green Party, and that have no chance of winning and thus nothing to lose, do not address the implications of peak oil in their platforms?
How is it possible that (aware) leaders of countries that still have some surplus oil to export, like Canada and Saudi Arabia, do not quietly implement policies to reduce exports to buffer the future for their own citizens?
Since the goal of fake peak oil news is to prevent panic and social disorder, and there’s little governments or businesses can do to prevent a die-off during the transition from fossils back to biomass and muscle power (extreme overshoot of carrying capacity), I can’t help but wonder if I were in charge if I might also put out stories like this to keep fossil fueled civilization going as long as possible. Offering hope, such as renewables, carbon sequestration, and so on, is one way to hold things together as long as possible. Why crash civilization before it will happen anyhow? And why bother to tell people the truth since they won’t believe it anyway (best books on this: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation)
As an observer of the biggest and most tragic event in human history, past or future (until the sun expands and swallows the Earth anyhow), I am just one of many journalists following the story as it unfolds, and hope that future historians will find articles debunking peak oil demand of interest.
There have been dozens of articles about Peak Oil Demand and the end of Peak Oil lately, often due to electric cars or other technology saving us. Here are just a few from 2017:
- Wall street Journal: Get ready for peak oil demand (due to new technologies that improve fuel efficiency, new carbon rules, electric vehicles
- Bloomberg: Remember peak oil? Demand may top out before supply does. Shell’s CEO says consumption could stall in 25 years if electric cars take off.
- OilPrice.com: Oil industry to waste trillions as peak demand looms
- Financial Times: Big energy fears peak oil demand is looming. Electric cars, renewables and gas could end the era of rising crude consumption.
- CNN Money: Oil has a Tesla problem. But when will it hit?
No, peak demand will happen because of peak oil when we’re forced to cut our demand as it declines exponentially at 6% a year. In capitalist countries, it will be the poor first (already happening since the financial crash), then middle class, and finally upper middle class. Even the rich won’t be able to continue driving whenever they want because social unrest will be so high they won’t dare leave the gates of their armed compounds. Only the military will have oil to the very end…
The idea that electric cars are lowering demand is ridiculous. Electric cars haven’t made a dent, just a small scratch in oil demand. Electric cars are only 0.2% of light-duty vehicles, and cost so much only the upper 5% can afford them, even with subsidies.
Meanwhile, consumption of oil in developing countries is increasing at a fast pace. There’s no sign of peak demand. And they’re not buying electric cars in India, Brazil, and other nations where the electric grid comes down a lot.
Only in Europe is demand slightly dropping, but that’s because their governments are so much more far-sighted, less corrupt, and peak oil aware than nation’s elsewhere. Europe began planning for oil decline decades ago, especially since they don’t have much oil of their own or a giant military to grab it from oil producing nations. Mass transit is so fantastic and cheap in many European cities that people don’t drive. For example, in Munich, Germany, the rail, tram, and bus systems run very often, and we spent just 6 euros a day to ride their quiet and modern trains, trams, and buses. When I came back to San Francisco, BART and other mass transit here looked like they were from a third world country, with their very infrequent service, filthiness, and on BART, enough decibels to harm hearing.
I suspect the peak oil demand idea is one more attempt by the wealthy and powerful to hide peak oil, because peak oil studies have shown that if peak oil were acknowledged, stock markets all over the world would crash since the economy would be shrinking from then on and debts couldn’t be repaid. Credit would freeze and dry up. Panic and social disorder would follow. Michael Lynch and other analysts have been trying for years to quench the idea of peak oil and Lynch even used to float his peak-oil denial theories on peak oil yahoo groups to learn what the counter-arguments might be.