Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Softening the Blow of Peak Oil

Liz at sustenance has made a terrific find: Richard Heinberg's article "How to Avoid Oil Wars, Terrorism, and Economic Collapse. " Heinberg argues that the Oil Depletion Protocol (drafted by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas) offers a framework for planning for a global peak in oil production. After reading the article (and I encourage you to do so, and to pass it on), my initial response was "Great idea, but it will never be adopted." Heinberg addresses that particular concern, noting that the only way for countries to soften the economic and social effects of peak oil is to begin preparation -- the only alternatives are the political and economic upheaval that will likely arise from post-peak pricing chaos.

This is a reasonable, thoughtful argument that appeals to the better angels of our nature. As an American, though, I'm pretty skeptical that our current government would look twice at such a proposal -- keep in mind that Vice President Cheney has pronounced that the American lifestyle is not up for negotiation (or something similar). The anti-UN crowd would also jump all over this (I'd guess they'd assume that the UN would administer such an agreement) -- this time, they'd be looking for black helicopters powered by biofuels... The Protocol puts a focus on government action, but I wonder if the US private sector and local governments would have to serve as the prime movers on something like this (keeping in mind that the private sector and the states have been much more receptive to the Kyoto Protocol). Thus, I wonder if we'd have to consider such action within a framework similar to the one Jamais proposed on Sunday...

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