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Govt hits peak denial

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 pm, July 21st, 2011 - 89 comments
Categories: energy, sustainability - Tags:

Should we be more angry or scared? Just read the first official government presentation on peak oil. The IEA says  conventional oil peaked in 2006 but our government offers only crude denialism and, paradoxically, blithe assurances that they’re ready. This is the kind of crap we used to see before we had 2 oil shocks in the past 4 years.

Denis Tegg, one of the country’s leading peak oil  commentators, has kindly given us permission to reprint his post in full dissecting the MED presentation:

New Zealand Government’s Response to Peak Oil – In time we hope something will turn up

On July 8 I attended a forum on peak oil organised by the Sustainability Society. Dr Richard Hawke from the Ministry of Economic Development gave a presentation  on behalf of the New Zealand government entitled “Peak Oil – New Zealand’s Response”. I came away with emotions ranging from frustration to anger and embarrassment.

So I thought it would be cathartic to dissect the presentation —

Dr Hawke began with a typically confusing introductory slide on electricity generation, when anyone with a basic knowledge of peak oil knows that it’s a liquid fuel problem, not an electricity issue. We cannot power our cars, trucks ships and planes on electricity.


Next was a cringingly awful attempt to paint peak oil as part of an historical continuum of false prophecies on oil production. Awful because all of the examples used were from the 19th century or early 20th century before the concept of peak oil was understood. Who cares what someone said in 1865? The glaring omission from the examples given was of course the prediction from US Shell geologist Dr King Hubbert. He predicted in the 1950s that US oil production would peak in 1970 — which it did, and has declined steadily ever since in spite of the best technology, most intensive drilling on the planet and record high prices. Similarly omitted were the projections of Colin Campbell and other peak oilists in the late 1990’s who predicted that global crude oil production would peak around 2005 — 2006 — which it also did.

Dr Hawke then attempted to paint peak oil proponents as pessimists who underestimated oil reserves, exaggerated future demand, while not giving enough emphasis to substitution and technological advances — the archetypal cornucopian view. Firstly, the argument about reserves is a straw man because peak oil is essentially concerned with the flows — production of oil — (which have been flat since 2005 despite record high prices and advances in technology) rather than how much oil might or might not be in the ground.

As to exaggerating future demand, surely the government is not seriously suggesting that soaring demand from China, India, Middle East and other developing nations is magically going to decline? Again this is a typically Western-centric view which wrongly transposes the declining oil demand trends in OECD nations like New Zealand to the world as a whole.

The presentation then suggested that technology and alternatives will be the silver bullets that saves us. But the presentation conveniently fails to mention the higher cost, much lower energy return on energy invested and the planet-frying effects of using alternatives such as the tar sands in Canada. The slide actually shows the the extreme and dangerous depths to which drilling must go!

But what really got me wound up was the selective use of the International Energy Agency’s information, which the government believes provides “credible information on the global oil market”. On the one hand the government takes as gospel the projections of the IEA that as yet undiscovered fields and unconventional oil will meet demand out to 2035. This selective faith in the IEA is maintained despite –
• the IEA forecasts on oil production having to be revised downward in huge chunks every year for the last six — eight years
• peak oil scientists having been far more accurate with their production forecasts in the same timeframe
• peak oil experts such as those at Uppsala University providing analysis that shows the IEA’s forecasts for finding undiscovered oil fields are around three times greater than historical norms

But on the other hand the government is quite prepared to ignore other recent IEA announcements – calling for large-scale government intervention – because it does not suit its “the markets will solve everything” ideology . The IEA said in its 2010 Report on NZ that the government should “give priority to enhancing energy efficiency in the transport, commercial buildings and industry sectors by defining clear objectives for the sector supported by adequate cost-effective measures and long-term investments”

The next slide shows the government’s blind faith reliance it has in the IEA’s flawed oil price modelling. The slide shows an oil price in 2035 – (24 years from now) at $US135 a barrel under the (worst-case) “existing policy” scenario. Does anyone seriously think the world oil price will be only $US15 higher in 24 years than it is now? Yet the government continues to place faith in IEA price modelling.

The next slides selectively depict various scenarios for future oil production. But only the most optimistic scenarios are shown – a “new policies” scenario and a “green revolution” — 450 ppm Co2 or 2° of warming” scenario. Post Kyoto there is scant evidence of world governments actually implementing either of these scenarios. So why is the far more pessimistic “current policy” scenario omitted from the presentation?

Domestic policies

This is where the government’s so called “response” to peak oil is set out. Four actions to “reduce our dependence on oil” are outlined –
• New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme
• Encouraging entry of biofuels and electric vehicles to the NZ market
• Investment in public transport infrastructure; and
• The Petroleum Action Plan

I want to concentrate on the government’s response on biofuels and electric vehicles and its Petroleum Action Plan, as the ETS and funding for public transport infrastructure have been well canvassed elsewhere.

Biofuels Grant Scheme
Slide 27 brazenly suggests that the government is actively encouraging biofuels and electric car uptake as serious policy initiatives as a response to peak oil. Frankly I found this an insult to the intelligence of the forum audience and the public at large. Why? — Because these are minuscule and pathetic policy responses. 

Here is the analysis of these 2 policies done by WWF….

“In the first eleven months of operation (July 2009 – May 2010), an average of 44,620 litres of biodiesel were covered by the scheme, which is roughly equivalent to 38 tonnes of fuel. Extrapolating this average over a whole year equates to 456 tonnes per year. Total oil consumption in NZ in 2008 was: 5,737,000 tonnes. At this rate, biodiesel covered by the scheme would comprise 0.008% of total NZ oil consumption.”

Road User Charges Exemption for Light Electric Vehicles

WWF  “The government predicts 127 electric vehicles will obtain the exemption by 2012 when the scheme expires, with combined annual revenue foregone in road user charges over its four year duration is projected to be less than $105,000.”

$105,000 is less than 0.002% of the government’s planned spending on roads

Petroleum Action Plan
The second much touted “response” is the Petroleum Action Plan (PAP) the aim of which is to develop New Zealand’s petroleum potential.

In previous posts I have described this policy as “drill and hope” or “hope to drill” Guess what? The government has confirmed that is exactly what it is! There quite unashamedly in slide 29 is the statement —

in time it is hoped this will improve our net position and reduce our dependence on imported oil”.


Let’s just repeat that – a major policy plank of the government’s response to peak oil is –

in time” (7 — 10 years at best before any flows of new oil can be expected, but with the oil crisis unfolding right now)
it is hoped” (would it help if we all got down on our knees and prayed?) that something will turn up. Yet this is put up as a credible response to peak oil which is already causing higher inflation and substantial and negative impacts on GDP?

Already huge cracks are appearing in the petroleum plan ….
• In late 2010 Exxon pulled out of exploration in the Great South Basin
• despite a record number of wells being drilled offshore of Taranaki, very little new oil has been found in the last two years
• Petrobras is angry with the government that it was confronted with major protest action offshore from East Cape which disrupted its exploration work. The company left early, and who knows whether they will return.
• Grey Wolf has withdrawn its application for offshore drilling in Golden Bay
Not one company has taken up available exploration permits off the coast of Northland.  The government surreptitiously placed this news on the MED website in the past few days with no ministerial press release. When confronted the government said the global financial crisis and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was to blame. Well hello! Was that not blindingly obvious when the PAP was formulated.? I pointed out these issues in an earlier post .

Yet in spite of these major setbacks in five different much touted offshore oil basins, the government’s presentation has the gall to put up this graphic suggesting we will be “saved” by new oil discoveries.

As I pointed out in a post in November last year about this very same graphic — if you strip away these yet to be discovered oilfields — you are left with the real world situation of New Zealand oil production having already peaked and declining steeply to zero by 2023.

This was a non-response to peak oil. It was a “let’s pretend is not happening” and if it turns out it is happening “let’s hope and pray that something will turn up”

Am I my feeling any better having got this off my chest? Well not really — because there are effective policy responses that the government can make.  But due to its ideological blinkers, they will continue to ignore them.

Labour has yet to announce its energy policy for this year’s election. Whether it too is unprepared to take bold and effective action on peak oil remains to be seen. I expect to be equally disappointed.

Note: Prof Bob Lloyd of Otago University also gave an excellent  presentation on peak oil at the forum which you can view here

89 comments on “Govt hits peak denial ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    The slide shows an oil price in 2035 – (24 years from now) at $US135 a barrel under the (worst-case) “existing policy” scenario. Does anyone seriously think the world oil price will be only $US15 higher in 24 years than it is now?

    Actually, they seem to believe that oil will get CHEAPER over the next 24 years, on an inflation adjusted basis.

    By the way, the USD is going the way of the dodo, and no one knows what that will do to the market for oil.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      By the way, the USD is going the way of the dodo, and no one knows what that will do to the market for oil.

      Well, one thing that I’m sure will happen is that oil exporting countries will stop accepting US$ for their oil at which point the delusion that’s been carefully maintained since 1971, that the US$ is the global reserve currency, will crumble.

      Desktop Gadget reports:
      NZ$ 1.25
      US$ 1.07
      AUS$ 1
      Euro 0.75

      Can’t be far away now.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        Some countries will be producing more oil and finding new wells over the next 20 years.

        Oil for their own growing domestic use, that is.

        If the MED presentation didn’t cover forecast oil production available for export the whole thing should just be put in the bin.

      • Lanthanide 1.1.2

        NZ$ up to 86 cents today. Gareth Morgan is suggesting possible parity with the US and Dutch Diesease.

    • mik e 1.2

      The main reason why our balance of payments account has been so bad is the cost of oil. Any govt that doesn,t take his seriously has got their noses to close to their oil company executives wallets which are next to their!Joyces response is that new technology will come along. Not before the next election or the ten after that.Lithium is already in short supply the biggest reserves are in Afghanistan.We are going to need a lot more than 50 SAS soldiers to protect mining their!

  2. M 2

    Nice one Z – liked the Lloyd slide show.

    A scaffold should be built for Hawke and his fellow liars for trying to kick the can down the road that little bit longer.

    Where did I put my knitting needles?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Wool – a renewable resource. Very good 🙂

      • Sanctuary 2.1.1

        I think this a reference to the French women who knitted as Madame Guillotine seperated the head and neck of many a deserving aristocrat.

        A Guillotine would be better than a noose IMHO. Hurts more, I am told.

        • Bored

          Its from Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) I believe, the knitting was coded messages.

  3. queenstfarmer 3

    Putting aside the ongoing carbon / pollution aspect, what’s the actual problem with whether oil production has peaked or not? Of course, as the easy supplies of oil are used up, and therefore will (probably) get harder and more costly to maintain supply, the price of oil would be expected to rise. That’s basic economics. But it’s not going to run out tomorrow, or next year, or in 10 years. What I am interested in is why is the fact that we don’t know what a barrel of oil might cost in 2035 a problem? Is there some concern that new forms of power won’t be invented / available by then? Is it a concern that the cost of living will blow out before alternatives are cheap enough?

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      It’s not a problem of “running out” tomorrow, or next year, or in 5 years time.

      It’s a problem of hugely increased demand without supply able to match it. In other words, we could be looking at oil prices of $300/barrel in todays $ within 2-3 years time. If you think petrol at $2.06/l is expensive, oil is only $~115/barrel at the moment.

      A very tight oil supply and demand balance means any disasters or political problems can quickly result in huge price rises, for example Hurricane Katrina or the recent upheavals in Libya that took ~2m barrels/day off the market. Imagine what happens to an economy when petrol goes from $2.50/l to $4/l in the space of days or weeks. Have a look at the oil shocks in the 70’s for further examples – stagflation.

      The other issue is more general in nature – modern civilization is completely reliant on oil and oil-derived products to function: transportation fuels, plastics, pesticides and fertilisers are all directly produced from oil. Increasing oil prices will push the price of all of those things up and in the cases where people can no longer afford fertiliser, they end up with reduced crop yields, leading to food shortages and higher prices, etc. Then, if there is a downright shortage of oil, it may not be available at any price – you want to buy 20,000 tons of oil, but your suppliers can only get you 14,000, no matter what price you pay them…

      Humanity as a whole has never faced as daunting a challenge as we have in the next 30 years – replacing a vital energy source while facing massive population growth. In the past we swapped from trees to coal, from coal to whale oil and whale oil to crude oil. Now we’re running out of cheaply available crude oil and there’s no single substitute that can replace oil in all of it’s current usage in the volume required (your petrol car won’t run on electricity, and building new fleets of electric cars is expensive and simply requires new power stations to be built).

      Hopefully this gives you a broader idea of just what a problem oil depletion truly is, and how it is going to fundamentally change our society within the next few decades (probably starting, in earnest, sometime in the next 5 years).

      • queenstfarmer 3.1.1

        Thanks, very helpful.

        So, if supply steadily contracted and prices steadily rose, the market (yes the hated market) would fill the gap. Alternatives that are currently more expensive than oil-based energy would eventually become cheaper, and then there’d be a rush to those alternatives which would over time drive prices down. But if supply becomes very tight too soon or disrupted (for geopolitical reasons, or supply collapsing), then as you say we could have bad oil price shocks on a quite frequent basis, which would definitely be bad for lower/middle class people and most parts of the economy. Which does, I suppose, lend itself to the “drill baby drill” approach to at least buy as much time as possible (again, putting aside the pollution aspect, which I accept would seriously blunt Mr Occam’s Mach3).

        I’ll add this to my reading list. Any suggestions on a good, relatively non-partisan book?

        • Colonial Viper

          the market (yes the hated market)

          As an aside, even communist or socialist countries like China, Cuba, Venuezela, the old USSR, etc used markets. As did many historical non capitalist civilisations. Markets for goods and services per se aren’t a big problem, markets for labour and capital have more issues.

          I’ll add this to my reading list. Any suggestions on a good, relatively non-partisan book?


          Just my suggestion 🙂

        • Draco T Bastard

          So, if supply steadily contracted and prices steadily rose, the market (yes the hated market) would fill the gap.

          No, it won’t, that’s the problem as there is nothing to effectively replace it with. The world economy has become so dependent upon cheap oil that if the price goes up too far then the economy as it presently operates collapses. All present known replacements exceed that price and don’t come anywhere near the availability anyway. If we’d made changes to the economy about 30+ years ago to take into account Peak Oil then it wouldn’t have been such a hurdle now but we didn’t.

          Alternatives that are currently more expensive than oil-based energy would eventually become cheaper…

          It’s more than just the energy source, it’s also the entire infrastructure (alone worth trillions of dollars and we don’t have the resources to replace that infrastructure either) that distributes that energy source and it’s many uses. Ships can go back to using sale but they most likely won’t be carrying frozen meat from NZ to Britain as one example. Black Cherries grown in Marlborough won’t be flown from Nelson to California in time for breakfast as another.

        • gnomic

          Gosh. A Queen St farmer wondering whether frack frack frack is the right way to go. Wonders will never cease.

          Ever heard of Gail the Actuary? ourfiniteworld.com

          Then there’s Richard Heinberg. richardheinberg.com

          Issues around energy get some useful discussion on the Oil Drum. theoildrum.com

          By the way, fracking is just so wrong. And drill baby drill is just buying time to go on screwing things up.

          Thanks for listening.

          PS The ‘free market’ can not square the circle, prodigious as it may be in many respects.

        • Lanthanide

          “So, if supply steadily contracted and prices steadily rose, the market (yes the hated market) would fill the gap. Alternatives that are currently more expensive than oil-based energy would eventually become cheaper, and then there’d be a rush to those alternatives which would over time drive prices down.”

          You’re only sort of getting it.

          1. It’s not that these alternatives are suddenly going to be cheaper than oil is now. They won’t. They will still be expensive, but they’ll be cheaper than oil because oil is going to be *very* expensive. We are going from a civilization and global economy that is built on the idea of cheap energy. Some people call it “invisible energy slaves” – in the past farmers had to toil for days with horses to plough a field, now you can get it done in half a day with a tractor, thanks to the invisible energy slaves found in oil. Suddenly those slaves are going to be very expensive, whatever form they come in. This means marginal farm lands that were only profitable because you could use fertilisers and machinery to work them will become uneconomic, for example.

          2. There is almost no chance of any alternative liquid fuel (bio-oil) ramping up to the volumes required to replace oil in the time frame required. There is going to be disruption. Replacing liquid fuels with other fuel types is equally problematic – batteries or hydrogen are the only real options at the moment, and require replacing or retrofitting the entire car fleet to run on the new fuels, which has been built up over decades.

        • MrSmith

          You have too much faith in Markets, we are not talking about a shortage of Carrots here.
          We are talking about a huge energy switch and what we are hopefully going to see before long is a war like situation (meaning we will have to act quickly) and to my knowledge the market has ever fort and won a war, it “the market” would be more than likely found cowling under the covers, in my opinion, or calling itself black!
          People like your-self will cling on to what they know, resisting change, thats human nature.  Hoping the market will bring about changes needed in this situation is fanciful and wishful thinking at best, we will be forced to change! the alternatives don’t bear thinking about, the changes are already happening the rise and rise of Green parties across the world is a sure sign more people understand the situation is becoming very serious.

          • Jenny

            We are talking about a huge energy switch and what we are hopefully going to see before long is a war like situation (meaning we will have to act quickly) and to my knowledge the market has ever fort and won a war


            Indeed the market has never won a war. The Second World War is a testimony to that fact. All the major powers brought in wide spread controls of industry and commerce to be able to meet the challenge.

            This has led to the call by many of those aware of the problem to call for the “World War II Solution”.

            At present we are led by Climate Chamberlains who have no concept of the very real threat we are facing. (And who do not want to know). When what we need is some Climate Churchills thundering from the floor of parliament and in the media about the very real threat, demanding the massive changes to infrastructure and industry to deal with the challenge of Climate Change.

            The solutions are there. All that is missing is the political will to implement them.

            At the moment our leaders (on both sides of the house), are sitting on their hands whistling to the wind and hoping for the best. Our Climate Change Chamberlains are counseling us to timidly and belatedly follow behind any initiatives adopted overseas, when New Zealand could and should be a world leader.

            We owe it to future generations.

            To show we mean business the first initiative we need to implement is the banning of all coal exports.

            Like the first blows in a war, Sanctions as well as preventing a vital raw material falling into the enemy’s hands, send a clear message that to prevail we will need to take even sterner action.

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      You are correct. We won’t run out of oil, just oil we can afford to use daily.

      1) No net per capita world economic growth is possible over $100/barrel. No net per capita economic growth in NZ with petrol over $2/L.

      2) $250 to fill a tank would make travelling to work uneconomic for hundreds of thousands of NZ workers.

      3) Global trade will grind to a halt for all but the highest value/low volume goods – as will global international relations.

      4) The development of advanced new energy technologies and the ability to deploy them is predicated on massive amounts of available energy. If you don’t have the latter you can’t do work on the former.

      5) Peak energy has hit an intersection with peak debt. The dynamics here are very troubling and will lead to unexpected and severe negative effects. USD and Euro are both likely to collapse.

      6) Travel to another major city in NZ or to the other island is something that most will only be able to do once or twice a year.

      7) Life goes back to the early 1900’s: cars are things that only rich people own, and even then they will only be able to afford to take them out on a Sunday for a recreational drive.


      Oh yeah Lanth got it right – 20% of our work force will go back to primary hort/ag production.

      • queenstfarmer 3.2.1

        I see these as absolute worst case scenarios, if oil ran out right now (or a major terrorist disruption, etc). My understanding is that various models show oil supply dropping off, but do any show a sudden drop-off that would produce this sort of calamity?

        • Colonial Viper

          For some of the points above I think it will take less than 10 years to progress to them.

          For instance, look out for oil to be no longer priced in USD, and for the USD to lose its reserve currency status. This will happen over the next 10 years (give or take 5).

          $250 to fill a tank – that’s in the next 5ish years.

          No, there won’t be a sudden drop off in oil availablility in the next few years. Peak oil has passed very recently and we are still at the quite flat part of the plateau, heading downwards very gently. Just a creeping inability to maintain kJ per $ per capita is the main sign now.

        • Draco T Bastard

          My understanding is that various models show oil supply dropping off, but do any show a sudden drop-off that would produce this sort of calamity?

          At a societal level 50 years is a sudden drop off – and it won’t last that long.

        • Robert Atack

          but do any show a sudden drop-off that would produce this sort of calamity?

          There is this report http://www.oilcrash.com/articles/odr_rep.pdf (by Covec — June 2005) were the govt looks at a sudden drop off in oil supply “The 105 pages document titled “Oil Demand Restraint Options for New Zealand” ….. you will read their main option is closing down service stations and rationing fuel, with prisoners put before pensioners, so if your mother is in a retirement home she better start smashing windows – prison could be a lot warmer, were is a leader like Fidel when we need one.
          Key is sucking up to the wrong people he should be heading south to visit Cuba, he would get way better advice than hanging around the Washington ‘business as usual at all costs’ printing press.

    • mik e 3.3

      The main problem with oil it is finite so the speculators are having a field day this will continue and get worse. China and India subsidize their oil and therefore the speculators to. The best way to beat them is to plan now and not bury our heads in the oil sands. rapidly reduce our oil use and invest heavily in alternatives even if they cost more now because oil will continue go up in price. these alternatives will pay off in the long run. but just to deny there is a problem and go down the build more motorways rely on aircraft for tourism under spending in r&d is dumb and dumder!

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    It is worth noting that all government policy is driven by the Ministry of Lies -oops Ministry of Economic Development: that means energy, environment, education, social services, finance … whatever MED says goes. And MED is obsessed with growth (they have to be, to keep the fractional reserve banking scam going). The fact that MED is staffed by scientifically illiterate clowns and liars doesn’t enter into the matter.

    Many of us did battle with the idiots through 2000 to 2008. Most of us have given up in disgust. Talking to the neighbours cat is just as useful as talking to civil servants and government ministers, whether Labour or National is in power. Let us not forget the idiotic responses we had from Pete Hodgson, Trevor Mallard and David Parker when there WAS time to put in place mitigatation strategies.

    The Hirsch Report stated quite clearly that a 20 year transition period PRIOR to peaking would be required to make a smooth transition. With peak oil over 2005/2006 we are only 25 years behind in out ‘planning’.

    I personally will be very surprised if ANY of the present economic arrangements are still functioning in 2015. There is plenty of evidence there will be a major financial meltdown over the next 12 months, plus environmental meltdowns in numerous locations. (watching the US drought worsen by the week, Japan is in dire straits and now East Africa).

    • Ministry of Economic Development I handed [email protected] (in early 2003) approximately 200 pages of information and about 10 hours of audio CDs, (along the same lines as what was returned by John Tamihere) all during a half hour interview. I gave a sectary “The End of Suburbia” and “The Oil Factor” in December 04 to take to Caroline.


      In the end ‘we’ had 2 x 30 minute meetings with the wankers 2 of us at the first meeting with Caroline, and 4 at the second with 2 other MED clowns?

      And this from fuckwithoven
      I understand from Caroline Parlane in the Ministry of Economic Development that you are in regular communication with her and have sent her a wealth of information? Articles, CDs and tapes on the issue of oil supplies. She has undertaken to let me know if she finds anything in that information of which I am not currently aware or of which she thinks I should be informed.

      Yours sincerely
      Hon Harry Duynhoven
      Associate Minister of Energy

      So as you can read fuckwit did know about peak oil. Back when it mattered.

      • Bored 4.1.1

        I suspect that might have been the unstated response from members of the Sustainability society and their sponsors such as Morphum Environmental. Went onto their websites and had a look, they appear to be functional thinking people.

  5. RedLogix 5

    Thanks for a great post Zet. You’ve really put some work into it and it shows.

    I’ve nothing substantive to add to the discussion, except to perhaps observe that exactly as with the very tightly entwinned climate change crisis… the debate is essentially a political one, NOT a scientific one.

    Without taking anything away from the point here, the automotive companies are responding positively. For instance:

    Peugeot says it will continue to improve engine efficiency through its downsizing strategy for petrol and diesel, part of its micro-hybrid and full-hybrid plans.

    Its target is a hybrid drivetrain that will deliver 2 litres/100km (141mpg) and 50gr/km of CO2.

    That’s a pretty remarkable improvement, even if ultimately it only buys time.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      Not to burst your bubble, but give credit where it is due:

      “Denis Tegg, one of the country’s leading peak oil commentators, has kindly given us permission to reprint his post in full dissecting the MED presentation:”

  6. “we’ attended a public meeting way back when ?? at the MED were the same sort of bullshit presentation was given, as usual back then I turned up with several hundred DVDs to give to those remotely interested, I think maybe 5 were taken …. just like every other human … they did not want to know.
    I must admit reading some of the above statements makes me feel like a school teacher watching his students graduate …. some of them learnt something.
    Being NZs peak oil daddy I feel proud of you kids lol

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7


    90% of the food consumed in industriaal nations is dependent on oil for its produxtion and distribution. Declining oil supply. Do you see a problem?

    All of NZ’s export industries are totally dependent on cheap oil. Do you see a problem?

    There are NO alternatives to mineral oil extracted from the ground and refined using the chemical energy of oil. Every so-called alternative is fatally flawed from the outset because they all have a miserable Energy Return On Energy Invested and many of the have an EROI below 1, i.e. it takes more energy to produce the ‘alternative’ than it delivers.

    Fotunately for the government, we live in a scientifically illiterate society, so policy based on arrant nonsense is accepted by the general populace…. for the moment.

    The interesting moment comes when all the industrial systems that currently keep people alive begin to fail catastrophically in western nations. That moment is still a year or two year away.

    Many of us spent a decade warning everyone about the crisis when there was time to prepare (I started in 2001). We were ignored by clowns like Hodgson, Mallard, Parker, Duynhoven. And now the new bunch of clowns who ignore reality in chanrge.

    This can only end very badly for most people. And that’s before we even mention runaway CO2 emissions. ZETETIC made passing reference to 450ppm CO2. Well stabilisation at 450ppm is a fantasy, just like everything else that comes from official sources. The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that once 350ppm is exceeded, positive feedbacks kick in and the climate system flips to a new, much higher temperature state. We are only 0.8oC above the historic norm and are already experiencing climate chaos and planetary meltdown. The clowns in government want us to add another 1.2oC ?????

    I feel very sorry for anyone under the aage of 60.


    • queenstfarmer 7.1

      I do see a problem, if things happen too quickly for viable alternatives to emerge. Nothing viable may exist at the moment, but in the 1900s there were lots of things that wouldn’t have been considered “viable” that now exist. I recall the quote “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

      As I see it there are 3 main options / goals:

      1. Reduce oil demand as much as possible (at least reduce growth, rate of growth etc).

      2. Increase or extend oil supply as much as possible (within reasonable limits, though I guess there’s huge debate over what those would be…).

      3. Develop alternatives, which will include things we can’t even imagine right now.

      All of these things are happening. Seems to me it’s mainly a question of timing.

      • mickysavage 7.1.1

        queenstfarmer and others
        The fourth option that is never talked about is reduce the need to travel.  We keep attempting to address the supply side of the equasion rather than the demand side.
        We need to develop a country where people live and work locally, consume less and what they do consume is locally sourced and we need to manage down the fact that our society is based on consumerism and rampant consumption.
        Brave leadership is needed.  To date I do not see any sign of this.

        • Bill

          There won’t be any ‘brave leadership’ mickey because, as I comment here (below) peak oil isn’t a problem for those in a position of leadership.

          Can’t get the link to work. Comment no 9 at 10:49 on this thread.

          • Jenny

            I strongly disagree Bill. ‘Brave leadership’ can make all the difference, particularly if that ‘brave leadership’ is in tune with the popular grass roots opinion, or even a bit ahead of the current political mood.

            If leadership is ahead of the curve, and prepared to honestly face up to the danger to humanity of Peak Oil and Climate Change, and are prepared to lay out the stark changes needed to prevent the worst, then the phase shift in national (and global) public opinion necessary to confront Peak Oil and Climate change will occur.

            Only creative and brave leadership in touch with the public mood can make the drastic changes needed in our society necessary to defeat the ills of Peak Oil or Climate Change.

            This is the nature of truely inspired leadership.

            Winston Churchill inaugural speech on taking office as Prime Minister:

            All I can promise you is blood sweat toil and tears

            Though overwhelmingly the majority of those in the New Zealand Parliament are in agreement that Climate Change and Peak Oil are real events. At present our current crop of leaders – in contradiction to all concepts of leadership, are followers, openly waiting for the lead to come from others.

        • queenstfarmer

          I’d put that under my item 1 – reduce oil demand. Telecommuting could make a real difference here.

        • Jenny

          Brave leadership is needed. To date I do not see any sign of this.


          Too right, Micky.

          It would be great to see the Labour opposition promoting some serious initiatives to deal with peak oil and Climate Change.

          One sign I would like to see is the Opposition calling for the cancellation of the Waterview Tunnel Motorway Project and demanding that the $billions of dollars earmarked for this huge climate white elephant be switched into Auckland’s public transport infrastructure instead.

          Micky in your opinion do you think the Labour Party have the guts to stare down the oil and roading lobbies?

      • Afewknowthetruth 7.1.2


        ‘1. Reduce oil demand as much as possible (at least reduce growth, rate of growth etc)’.

        The bankers’ Ponzi scheme is dependent on perpetual growth and falls over without growth. That’s one of the reasons the governemnt remains firmly locked into denial of reality.

        ‘2. Increase or extend oil supply as much as possible’

        Did you read what the original posting said? Peak oil is history. We are into net energy decline.

        ‘3. Develop alternatives, which will include things we can’t even imagine right now’.

        If we can’t imagine them, how are we going to develop them? Anyway, for the umteenth time, there are NO alternatives. Nothing on this planet matches the energy density and abundance of oil.

        Western civilisation has driven itself into a cul-de-sac from which there is no escape. For some people it might take a few years for that to sink in.

        • queenstfarmer

          Re 2, I don’t mean increase output – that’s probably impossible. I mean increase available supply going forward, as much as possible. Oil supply may or may not have peaked, but if we can keep tapping supplies for the next few decades then that will increase the time for a transition.

          Re 3. “If we can’t imagine them, how are we going to develop them?” How ever did we end up inventing the computer, the microwave oven, the cell phone, the internet, etc, when people couldn’t have imagined such things in 1900? How did we end up with Facebook and Google looking at it from say 1990? What a dismal view of human creativity you must have.

          • Draco T Bastard

            How ever did we end up inventing the computer,…when people couldn’t have imagined such things in 1900?

            Antikythera mechanism

            The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. Its time of construction is now estimated between 150 and 100 BC.

            Analytical Engine

            The Analytical Engine, an important step in the history of computers, is a design for a mechanical general-purpose computer first described by English mathematician Charles Babbage in 1837.

            Seems that our ability to imagine such devices goes back a lot further than you believed and carries one important lesson – developing what can be imagined can take a long time. Time that we no longer have.

            • queenstfarmer

              Seems that our ability to imagine such devices goes back a lot further than you believed

              Hey I’m not the one arguing for limitations on human creativity. That would be Afewknowthetruth.

              If you think that we only have the modern computer because the Greeks could imagine it, then you are pretty quickly in a chicken-and-egg situation. Someone before the Greeks must have first imagined it, right? So is all human invention limited to what one cave man thought, and has been passed down the aeons?

              And what of your ancient Greek examples of the cell phone? Internet? Facebook? etc

              • Draco T Bastard

                If you think that we only have the modern computer because the Greeks could imagine it…

                Nope, I’m just pointing out that it takes a while.

                Hey I’m not the one arguing for limitations on human creativity.

                No, what you’re doing is believing that someone will come up with an idea and the next day all will be peachy again rather than the fact that between the idea and its successful implementation could be several generations.

                And what of your ancient Greek examples of the cell phone?


                • queenstfarmer

                  Heh, I’m well aware of how slow NZ mobile networks are, but I should be grateful we’ve improved since smoke signals (0G?) 🙂

                  • Colonial Viper

                    but if we can keep tapping supplies for the next few decades then that will increase the time for a transition.

                    Now, what if you have a political economic system which means that your remaining limited resources are not carefully conserved and extended as long as possible in order to make an orderly transition, but instead are burnt through as fast as possible for immediate gain?

        • Lanthanide

          “Nothing on this planet matches the energy density and abundance of oil.”

          Actually that’s not true. Radioactive elements, sunlight and geothermal energy all provide far more energy than we need at our current level of technological development.

          The problem is harnessing them cheaply and effectively.

          • Colonial Viper

            The key phrase there was ‘energy density’. Diesel contains 36-38 MJ/L.

            It’s just about impossible to beat that.

            Also, sunlight is energy, it is not a store of energy like say diesel is. You can convert sunlight (one form of energy) into other forms of energy.

            Radioactive elements, sunlight and geothermal energy all provide far more energy than we need at our current level of technological development.

            Our demand for energy cannot be described by our level of technological development but by considering energy use per capita x pop growth x change in energy use per capita.

            If everyone in the world were to live to a life style consuming near-western amounts of energy daily, I guess our daily energy consumption as a planet would increase around 40 x or 50 x.

            Nuclear, geothermal, whatever is not going to work for that scenario.

          • Jenny

            The problem is harnessing them (alternative energy sources), cheaply and effectively.


            Actually Lanthanide, the main problem, as identified by Scientific American, is not a technical one, but ‘harnessing’ the political will to do it.

            A plan to save the world does exist

      • mik e 7.1.3

        qstf its commitment thats required

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      The interesting moment comes when all the industrial systems that currently keep people alive begin to fail catastrophically in western nations. That moment is still a year or two year away.

      Brown outs in New York reported, due to massive record breaking heat wave.

  8. Rich 8

    We cannot power our cars, trucks ships and planes on electricity.

    The bus I got to work was powered by electricity.

    We can replace a lot of car, plane, truck and even ship journeys by electric trains (ships have a very low fuel usage per km anyway). Also, people can travel less (by living in cities, not exurbs) and buy goods locally.

    NZ specifically needs to aim to generate at least 120% of current electricity consumption from renewals. This is perfectly feasible – we were at over 80% in the 1980’s and have gone downhill since. There’s enough identified wind and hydro to get us to over 90% renewables before we start on offshore wind, high altitude hydro and the rest.

    The price of oil, incidentally, oscillates around the marginal cost of extraction (including profits, royalties and the like). When it was seeping out of a texan field, it was very cheap. When our most expensive oil needs be extracted from shale, it’ll be expensive. What isn’t included is any sort of expectation of future price. Also, if the US dollar drops, the price of oil will increase correspondingly as the dollar buys less in machinery, oil workers wages and the like. It isn’t a question of whether the producing nations will *accept* US dollars – they’ll accept any form of convertible tender.

    A corrollary of that is that it’s better for a nation with fossil fuels to leave them in the ground, where they get stored for free and will appreciate in value.

    • Afewknowthetruth 8.1

      You are ignoring the fact that NZ is struggling to maintain it’s present electrical grid; there is no way that NZ can generate twice as much electricity in order to run a transport fleet. You are also ignoring the fact that it takes oil to construct anything industrial these days -all mining operations require oil. And ignoring the limited life of batteries and depletion of resources needed to make them

      NZ used up all its major hydro potential decades ago. And even if there were some valley that could be flooded, you cannot build dams or anything else without oil.

      The chief source of problems is technological ‘solutions’.

      Technological ‘solutions’ are what got us into this mess.

      • MrSmith 8.1.1

        “there is no way that NZ can generate twice as much electricity in order to run a transport fleet.”
        I believe we can double our electricity out put. 
        With the soon looming climate crises, plus high oil prices, we will have no chose, and when the human race realizes they have no chose, we will act, forget about the politicians they will be swept aside and do what the people demand.
        Also we have a long way to go with energy efficiency.
        “nearly 20 per cent of all electricity used globally for lighting could be reduced to 7 per cent with widespread use of energy-efficient light bulbs, including a limited use of LEDs. That’s saving enough electricity, he estimates, to close 705 of the world’s 2670 coal-fired plants. Not a minor matter.”
        This comes from a piece over at hot topic and shows how stupid this goverments reversal of the plan to phase out incandescent light bulbs was.

        • Colonial Viper

          There are also aluminium and steel plants which can be shutdown/modified, as well as many other major industrial uses of power.

          BTW software developers and high tech manufacturing companies output more $ of product per kW used than commodity/ag/hort manufacturing.

      • Jenny 8.1.2

        The chief source of problems is technological ‘solutions’.


        Strange thing for you to say Brain. When I put up a post from Scientific American with their admittedly “technological solutions” you uncharacteristically were completely silent.

        You refused to critique this “plan” instead you chose to keep quiet instead.


        Did it disagree with your do nothing, (because nothing can be done), position. A do nothing position I have pointed out that you share with the Climate Change Deniers.

        Are you in fact a dishonest Climate Change Denier trying to deliberately spread despondency and defeatism to kill off any attempt to take action?

    • NZ has 2.4 million vehicles the vast majority of which are petroleum or diesel based.  Can you imagine the resources and energy consumption required to replace the fleet?

      • Carol 8.2.1

        Yes. I was talking with my mechanic about the topic of newer cars with more efficient fuel consumption after he serviced my very old little car. He said these newer cars require double the labour time to service, repair and maintain. Presumably that also means double the resources used in such labour.

        I decided using my old car sparingly, along with cycling & use of public transport was a better way for me to go right now.

        • Lanthanide

          Yes, unless you’ve got a very old clunker and you’re upgrading to a very fuel efficient model, you’re very unlikely to make the price of a new car up in fuel savings over say 5 years. Although as petrol gets more expensive that time frame will shrink.

          If you’re facing a big repair bill or the car is written off, then definitely try and get an economic car.

          My car is rated 5/6 stars and the calculator estimates fuel costs of $1550/year.

          You can type in your actual number plate and get your star rating here:

          Or search for your make/model here:

          It seems the first link doesn’t actually tell you the litres/100km (doesn’t for me anyway), but the second one should.

          • Carol

            I wasn’t thinking so much of costs as of how much fuel the car uses, and how much carbon/pollution it generates.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yep, and once the parts/logistics networks for those new vehicles become more fragile, watch out.

          I remember the case of the $250,000 8 series Beamers in the 1990’s, where the entire car would stop working because of an electronic/computer chip failure.

          That would never happen to a 1980 Corolla.

          Sometimes, newer has simply meant more fragile.

          Basically though, the energy and GHGs needed to smelt and form the materials which go into a new car mean that they are generally very environmentally unfriendly compared to reusing a second hand vehicle.

          • Daveosaurus

            “That would never happen to a 1980 Corolla.”

            Of course not… it would rust away into nothingness long before anything mechanical or electronic had a chance to fail.

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.2

        ms, indeed you would not replace the private vehicle fleet with a new private vehicle fleet, you would take 100 cars off the road and replace them with a couple of buses and an additional train service.

        • Jenny

          Colonial Viper, this is exactly the solution needed.

          At present Auckland has a total of just over 800 buses for a population of over 1 million people. For the same price as the Waterview Motorway tunnel, Auckland could buy 3000 brand new low emissions buses and run them fare free for twenty years.

          Fare free public transport when trialed overseas, has been wildly successful in getting people out of their private motor cars.

  9. Bill 9

    So our so-called ‘standard of living’ depends on moving energy around the place in a way that ensures more of it flows to ‘us’ (in the from of manufactured goods etc) than to ‘them’.

    And the result has been a massive disparity in material well being across the planet. Some get ‘buy one get two free’ pizzas while others die of starvation.

    So far, so bad.

    But the energy is running out. Which means that increasing numbers of ‘us’ will become ‘them’; that material disparities within ‘our’ society will widen to extents not seen by any of us.

    And just as we didn’t give too much thought to those overseas who had less than nought in previous decades, so bugger all consideration will be given to us by those who can protect their energy supply as we join the ranks of the destitute.

    Peak oil will not affect those who inhabit the higher echelons of our society. Yet it is those very people who we have charged with providing a ‘road map’ out of peak oil difficulties. They won’t provide a solution, because from their perspective there is no problem. Their problem is an entirely different one. Their problem is one of social stability. They have to make sure that measures of social control are robust enough to protect their position in the face of future bread riots and such like on these shores.

    And they’ve got many reasonably succesful stategies up their sleeves that have been tried and tested over many years by elites in countries with ‘criminal’ levels of internal social disparity.

    So peak oil is our problem, not theirs. And in the future we (or our children) will be compelled by desperation to blow the lid off the then state of affairs and the elites will be focussed on keeping the lid on. And that won’t be pleasant and probably won’t produce a desirable result no matter how things pan out. (Because by then, we or our children will have no ‘realisable’ material or social capital to invest in building a viable future)

    Alternatively, we could drop what we have in the dirt today. We could take advantage of our reasonable but declining position as of now and invest what we have in developing new ways of living (social, productive, distributive etc) and leave our elites high and dry.

    But then, I guess too many of us are holding onto the prospect of a warm shower at the end of this bumpy ride. So hell in a wheel barrow it is.

    • Bored 9.1

      Bill, your scenario implies that the “elite” will manage to control the mob. I think it might be very dangerous to drive a car when nobody but yourself can afford the fuel. The other thing I would predict is that the wealthy will become the targets of everybody, criminal, political or just plain hungry and envious. I for one wont be leaving them to lord it in isolated splendour.

      • Bill 9.1.1

        The evidence just doesn’t support that level of resistance Bored.

        Just look at the persistence of societies (and it’s a very long list) where the vast majority live and die miserably while a small elite ‘enjoy it all’.

        anyway, the implication of my comment isn’t so much that the majority will be kept in place so much as that we will allow the situation to develop in the first place. (the prospect of the warm shower)

        • Carol

          Hence Key calling in the Marines!

        • Jenny

          The evidence just doesn’t support that level of resistance Bored.


          Actually Bill the evidence is the exact opposite.

          The Arab Spring has shown that millions of people are not content for;

          …the vast majority live and die miserably while a small elite ‘enjoy it all.


          Even here in New Zealand we have seen the sort of mass resistance that has overturned the set positions of the elites. I mention here the campaign against Nuclear Ships the Spring Bok tour and the recent successful campaigns against schedule 4 mining and deep sea oil drilling on the East Coast.

          My hope is that these examples of these spontaneous and unconnected grass roots acts of resistance take on a more cohesive political form in this country.

          • Bill

            Yes, there are uprisings and a ‘changing of the order’ from time to time. But there are long stretches inbetween where elites maintain their preferred order. Even when uprisings or so-called revolutions occur, power transfers from one elite to another and the basic underlying dynamic persists.

            While it’s true that elites don’t necessarily get their way on every single issue, back downs or accomodations are acts that mute opposition and maintain rule.

            I don’t believe that it has to be this way. I believe substantive change is possible. But I can’t think of any examples where it has occurred and I don’t see any evidence whatsoever of genuine democratic movements in NZ today.

            Meanwhile, on the matter of oil.

            We are the addicts. And various corporations, financial centers of power and their ‘in tow’ governments are the dealers and pushers. They are dependent too. But their dependancy might be said to run deeper because their political, economic and social power is part of the mix.

            The situation might be likened to that of a heroin dealer who gains advantages from the heroin users addiction. But you know what? Any user who placed their faith for withdrawal in the hands of their dealer would be looked at sideways. Yet here we are, faces upturned waiting for the elites to do the right thing; to offer us a way out.

            I don’t understand why people don’t see that as our access to oil decreases, the power our elites have over us increases. Which again begs the question ‘Why would we expect them to do anything?’

            • Jenny

              I believe substantive change is possible. But I can’t think of any examples where it has occurred and I don’t see any evidence whatsoever of genuine democratic movements in NZ today.


              I think this is a subjective call on your part Bill.

              As the saying goes “Everything before “But” is bullshit.”

              Admittedly though the Arab Spring has still not reached it’s final conclusion I think it still disproves your negative assumption, that the vast majority are content to “live and die miserably while a small elite enjoy it all.”

              I also gave several concrete examples of democratic movements in this country which have delivered concrete gains over the powerful opposition of the ‘elites’ who benefited from the status quo.

              The examples I gave from our history were the anti racist sports movement, the antinuclear movement and the environmental protection movement. I would also like to add to that list, the very substantial and important Maori movement for social justice, The Maori Land March, the Raglan and Bastion Pt. land occupations, the Hikoi against the confiscation of the Foreshore and Seabed, which gave rise to the Maori Party and latterly to the left wing Mana Party.

              Like many on the left I think you are choosing not to look.

              By saying there is no hope, you can justify remaining uninvolved. And aloof in your little sect (whatever that is) you can wallow in bemoaning with those of like mind, how hopeless it all is. The added benefit – you don’t have to leave your comfort zone and risk getting your hands dirty reaching out to others to build the necessary coalitions for change, with people you may not see eye to eye with on most other issues.
              This I believe is the current stated position of the Labour Party.

    • Lanthanide 9.2

      “So our so-called ‘standard of living’ depends on moving energy around the place in a way that ensures more of it flows to ‘us’ (in the from of manufactured goods etc) than to ‘them’.”

      The Spice Must Flow. That is all.

      Actually in the 4th book, Leto specifically muses about hydraulic despotism relating both to water and spice on Arrakis and notes that pretty much the same thing happened during the 21st century with petroleum. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_empire

  10. Bored 10

    Why is this post not labelled COMEDY or SATIRE? It does prove one thing I have learnt over time since being a student: that the title Dr does not guarantee any brains, veracity or truthfulness, only that people take you seriously because you are “Dr”.

    At best the report is flawed research, at worst its propaganda. The author, an eminent NZ “Dr” makes no mention of Mr Hubbert or his “curve”, surely a real “Dr” with years of real world experience and real empirical information to back up his claims. We should have expected more of one of our “employees” as a public servant, but as usual with “public servants” you need to ask in whose employ are they really. We the public dont need public servants to agree with us, but we should require impartiality and a higher standard of informed research. To be blunt from that angle the “Dr” has failed us, and failed to earn his money from us, the taxpayers.

    With Nact it is just a sign of lets drive straight at the cliff face foot flat down, and persuade the passengers the road is all clear. As with the report there are confident “optomistic” drivers, or there are “pessimists”. No “realists”. Ask yourself, here comes a cliff face do I pessimistically apply the brakes or optimistically plant foot?

    • Bill 10.1

      here comes a cliff face do I pessimistically apply the brakes or optimistically plant foot?

      How’s about flapping really fast?

      • Bored 10.1.1

        Flap constructively….my chickens have got the whole thing nailed, part of the home food production system. No oil involved, totally solar…and green.

        • weka

          What are you feeding them on Bored?

          • Bored

            Kitchen scraps, garden veges (they like spuds mashed) and weeds I gather walking. Very partial to stealing dog and cat food, love digging up worms.

  11. Afewknowthetruth 11

    We a couple of important peaks coming up fairly soon: Peak [human] Population, followed by Peak Mayhem.

  12. Richard 12

    even if you managed to magically (ie, like the National Govt. would like to have happen), find 3x as much oil fields in the next year, as currently is being exploited, the price of oil would still go up… there is a very finite amount of oil that can be refined per year. It’d take about 5 years as i understand it, to build a major refinery

  13. Good to see this issue being aired –
    After hearing interviews with Fatih Birol, the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency back in mid-May 2011 , I wrote to the (acting) Minister of Energy to ask whether s/he/they were aware of the IEA’s admission/announcement/warnings- from her response , I can only conclude that she wasn’t. For that and links other relevant information :
    This is an issue of urgent strategic significance that no-one aspiring to be elected to government can afford to be seen backing down from – if confronted with the latest from the IEA.
    Only by directly and continuously engaging with our elected representatives and the media will we encourage an acknowledgment that they have a responsibility to encourage, facilitate and provide appropriate responses to the post peak oil age – in which we are now living.

  14. Simple no oil no food no fuckwit humans )


    What follows is most certainly the single most frightening article I have ever read and certainly the most alarming piece that FTW has ever published. Even as we have seen CNN, Britain’s Independent and Jane’s Defence Weekly acknowledge the reality of Peak Oil and Gas within the last week, acknowledging that world oil and gas reserves are as much as 80% less than predicted, we are also seeing how little real thinking has been devoted to the host of crises certain to follow; at least in terms of publicly accessible thinking.

    The following article is so serious in its implications that I have taken the unusual step of underlining some of its key findings. I did that with the intent that the reader treat each underlined passage as a separate and incredibly important fact. Each one of these facts should be read and digested separately to assimilate its importance. I found myself reading one fact and then getting up and walking away until I could come back and (un)comfortably read to the next.

    All told, Dale Allen Pfeiffer’s research and reporting confirms the worst of FTW’s suspicions about the consequences of Peak Oil, and it poses serious questions about what to do next. Not the least of these is why, in a presidential election year, none of the candidates has even acknowledged the problem. Thus far, it is clear that solutions for these questions, perhaps the most important ones facing mankind, will by necessity be found by private individuals and communities, independently of outside or governmental help. Whether the real search for answers comes now, or as the crisis becomes unavoidable, depends solely on us. ˆ MCR]

  15. In 1999 I read this lecture http://oilcrash.com/articles/common.htm
    I then sent it to every politician in the 1999 govt. What an utter waste of my time.

  16. Reality Bytes 16

    Good article.

    And good point at the end about how we haven’t yet seen Labors energy policy. I hope they offer some practical alternatives to the head-in-the-sand ostrich policies of our current public servants in power.

    One positive note, at least this will (hopefully) force us to curb our carbon caused global warming effects. If in an alternative universe we weren’t running out of oil, and say peak oil was hundreds or thousands of years away… well… we’d be the next Venus in the next 20 or so years with our rampant consumerism/denialism/capitalism-at-any-cost approach.

    The food shortage issues are gravely concerning, I only hope innovation and reliance-on-oil-killer-technologies come to play soon. It’s our only hope really, the global fallout will be immense if we cannot find solutions.

  17. ChrisH 17

    Of course, we have to remember that Rogernomics was founded on the rejection of Think Big, an early attempt at dealing with oil crises which among other things included electrifying 411 km of the North Island Main Trunk line.

    As Roger Kerr, head of the NZ Business Roundtable, noted in 2000:

    “The whole ‘think big’ fiasco and the notion that we needed a Ministry of Energy stemmed from the idea that energy was so special that governments needed to intervene comprehensively in energy markets. We preferred the absurd spectacle of carless days to efficient prices for energy.” (quoted in John Wilson, “What if Muldoon’s ‘Think Big’ energy projects had succeeded,” in Stephen Levine, ed, New Zealand as it Might have Been, 2006).

    And so you see how difficult it is for Humpty Dumpty to get off the wall in New Zealand. It would be tantamount to admitting that Piggy was more right than wrong after all. And then the whole post-1984 ideological sweater would unravel.

    What’s equally depressing is the way that a person so obviously has to be a “loyal party hack” to get ahead or even retain their job in the New Zealand public service, courtesy of 25 years of Rogernomic ideological bureaucrats at the top.

    Thus NZ official reports, not just this particular presentation, so often read like a load of obvious crap prepared by some total mediocrity even in comparison to their Australian or UK equivalents, never mind the German or French ones.

    It’s another reason for the brain drain.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      It’s another reason for the brain drain.

      Works both ways; over the last 5 years we’ve lost a huge number of mid and senior level public sector people who today would be at the top of their game.

      Today there remain mostly just those who are too young and inexperienced to know any better and yes/how high types. Just the way NATs like it.

      • ChrisH 17.1.1

        Yes, well, then again, it is prepared by two “managers” to go by their titles, not two scientists who might have been working in this area for years and years.

        Hawke has a PhD in geography (admittedly) and has previously written reports and a book on water allocation and retirement income provision since 2000 it would seem. He also holds an MBA in addition to his geography PhD. A search for more strictly scholarly publications turns up Hawke as co-author of a “short communication” on Horowhenua sand dunes in the New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 2005.

        Anyhow given that the polymathic Dr Hawke seems to have been otherwise active as a policy expert on water, pensions and peak oil, it’d be interesting to see whether there is a certain common formula to his policy work, as opposed to the short piece on sand dunes, which perhaps derives from his actual PhD.

        Carolyn van Leuven’s a lawyer with a background in mergers, acquisitions and contracting in the energy sector, http://www.linkedin.com/pub/carolyn-van-leuven/12/6b3/455.

        Do MED have any real hardcore technical experts in this area, as opposed to a parachuted-in generalist and a commercial lawyer? Sounds like you could be right, CV.

        • ChrisH

          Oh here we are there’s some more in the New Zealand Journal of Hydrology, which Hawke still currently edits: http://www.hydrologynz.org.nz/journal_search.php . This is his real area of expertise as regards earth sciences, including 1997 Toronto PhD on water soaking into dry soil. Initial employment at MED seems to have been in this area, with more responsibilities then being taken on.

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