Wednesday, October 24, 2007


For the past couple of years there has been an increasing debate about peak oil - the point at which global oil production peaks and then declines, leading to spiraling price rises and "demand destruction" (meaning people not being able to afford to drive their cars anymore). Much of this debate has been focused on when the peak will hit, whether it will be 2010 or 2030. But it seems the supertanker has already sailed. According to the Energy Watch Group, oil production peaked last year.

It remains to be seen whether EWG's theory is correct - they project oil supply to fall 7% a year from now on, which should be relatively easy to measure. But even if they're wrong, it's nothing to celebrate - it just means we have a few more years before having to face up to the reality that you cannot indefinitely extract a finite resource. Unlike some people, I don't think peak oil will destroy civilisation. But the end of cheap oil will have a serious effect on New Zealand (notably on our tourism industry), and its something we should be preparing for. Unfortunately, it seems our government is still locked in a death struggle to build more roads and bigger airports, in order to cater to cars and tourists that just won't be there in twenty years time.