Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Saturday, April 16, 2005

BBC news headline 'states obvious'

[Note: Balls to the BBC! What was an article about oil prices damaging the global economy, under the headline: Oil price hikes 'hamper growth', has metamorphised into an article about debt relief which briefly mentions oil in the last paragraph. I'm not suggesting that global poverty and debt relief don't also deserve coverage, but was it really necessary to remove a full article on global oil prices from the BBC website in order to make room for it? If I were a conspiracy theorist..........]

I've not directly addressed the peak oil / death of capitalism 'thang' for a little while now. To be honest I've been a little dismayed by the speed at which it seems to be developing. Having long accepted Colin Campbell's estimate that total oil and gas production would peak sometime after 2010 (from this online lecture) as being the most authoritative, it seems that even his numbers may be a tad optimistic.

Last week the news that Saudi Arabia's Gharwar (sometimes spelt 'Ghawar') field entered decline was made public. In my personal opinion, this is (and barring an alien invasion, will remain) the single largest news story of the year (papal deaths, royal marriages and Iraqi or UK elections don't have anything like the same sort of implications). In the week since the news was announced I have watched (sometimes a tad obsessively I admit) to see whether it would be picked up by someone other than Aljazeera.

It was.

It was picked up by Nebraska's "Electric Vehicle World" magazine (Bank of Montreal Reports Largest Saudi Oil Field Now In Decline). And "The Village Voice" mention it in an article about a potential conflict between China and Japan over the right to exploit the South China Sea oilfields (Crude Behavior: China and Japan's latest beef; talk of fuel rationing gets serious). Incidentally, Michael Klare's book Resource Wars warns that even though we in the west may be focussing our attention on what's happening in the Gulf right now, there's a lot more going on around the world than just that. He speaks of a very real risk of China and Japan going to war over the South China Sea resources in the coming decade. He details a dizzying naval build-up in the area with Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines; as well as China, Japan and Taiwan; all locked in an arms race which is seeing most of them doubling and even trebling the size of their deployed navies every three years or so. And he lists numerous clashes between the various countries in the area which have - thankfully - not spiralled out of control.

But aside from EV World and Village Voice (plus a handful of indymedia-type sites), the Gharwar story has not been picked up by anyone at all in the west. The world's largest oil field (by a long way) has just entered permanent decline. This is the oilfield with which Saudi oil ministers have spent 30 years calming the fears of The Market. And whether or not you completely agree with my assessment of the implications, the fact alone surely merits the epithet "news".

If Gharwar is past peak, then chances are so is Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia is past peak, then chances are so is the world.


Anonymous PMM said...

Hiya Jim.

Do you have an opinion on why the mainstream media is silent on the issue of peak oil? I just did a search of the BBC website for Ghawar and found nothing of any relevence. Same with Guardian Online, who you'd expect to be flagging this kind of stuff. It just doesn't make sense. Is it to keep us from panicking? Don't they understand it's importance? As much as I try, I can't understand why the biggest issue facing our society isn't plastered all over every front page and news bulletin.

17/4/05 04:02  
Blogger L said...

we in the West are so irresponsible (and our current administration is so stupid) that I suppose most people really don't care. Of course, I'm living in an area filled with religious right-wing whackos who are HAPPY about this sort of thing, because it means that these are the End Times. Sheesh.

17/4/05 18:45  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

PMM, I do indeed have an opinion on the apparent media silence. But it's just that; an opinion. I try to avoid dropping my own personal conspiracy theories into discussions about peak oil as in the eyes of some it can undermine the credibility of any solid research being presented.

I believe that the mainstream media has a vested interest in delaying news about peak oil for as long as possible. I believe that as soon as the realisation sinks in that it is consumerism itself which is responsible for this mess, that there will be a serious risk of scape-goating.

Financiers, economists, advertisers and the media will be reviled for their part in the debacle. And the power currently experienced by the large media conglomerates will disappear.

For this reason it makes sense to delay the news for as long as possible, in the hope (for remember, these folks take economists seriously) that The Market hurries up with it's solution.

L I don't envy you. I can think of few worse places to see out an energy crisis than a southern US state. Guns, religion and patriotism all rolled into one big psychopathic explosion of frustration. Jeez... just imagine how out-of-control the place will get when there's not enough power to run the air-conditioners?!

Thing is, I'm not sure it's really "us in the west". I'm fairly convinced it's a human thing. We in the west just happened to be the ones who developed (and then exported) consumerism. I don't blame the west for that, no more than I blame Asia for bird flu. It just happens to be the place where the illness first took root.

I blame us now though. Now that we have clear evidence that our way of life is unsustainable and destructive, yet do nothing about it. That's our real crime.

18/4/05 18:18  

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