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Nats turn blind eye to peak oil

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, October 15th, 2010 - 103 comments
Categories: bill english, public transport, sustainability, transport - Tags: ,

Russel Norman asked Bill English about the economic impacts of coming oil shocks and how transport infrastructure planning takes them into account. I’m not sure which was more surprising: English’s matter-of-fact acknowledgment that peak oil is coming, or his attitude that it’s not something the government needs to worry about because the market will sort things out.

Here’s the exchange (it’s on inthehouse.co.nz too but, annoyingly, straddles two clips):

Dr Russel Norman: Is New Zealand’s economic recovery vulnerable to oil price shocks; if so, how?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, the New Zealand economic recovery is vulnerable to any kinds of price shocks, including oil price shocks. At the moment there is evidence of increases in commodity prices that would suggest that there could be risks in the future. That is why we have to manage the Government’s books very tightly in case things go wrong. That is why we need to get on with a programme of structural reform, investment in infrastructure and in skills, and changes in the tax system. Those are some of the things we can influence that will improve our outlook. Other things like the oil prices we cannot influence, but we could be badly affected by them.

So far, so good, right? Don’t get too excited.

Dr Russel Norman: In reference to the infrastructure investment, does he think that future high oil prices should be considered in the business cases for new infrastructure, such as roads of national significance?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: That factor is taken into account indirectly through traffic forecasts, and it is possible that if oil prices got very high and stayed that way, there would be less traffic. I do not think that is likely. The record in New Zealand is that with economic growth, traffic volumes tend to grow. But, fundamentally, we leave those decisions to New Zealanders to decide whether they want to face that cost and have the related benefits, or get on their bikes or take public transport.

But what if the public transport is full to bursting already? Rail patronage in Auckland was up 17% in August compared to last August and total Auckland public transport numbers were up 7.8%. People don’t want to pay $1.80 a litre to sit in congestion and then pay a small fortune for parking. They want public transport but it’s all full up and it isn’t widespread enough.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he believe that the kinds of infrastructure investments that the Government makes have a profound effect on behaviour, by providing opportunities to use public transport or opportunities to use motorways, so given the length of time that these infrastructure investments last for, he needs to take into account the future price of oil because these infrastructure investments will last for many decades?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government, in the first place, is not any better placed than anyone else to guess prices in 10 or 20 years’ time; but, secondly, we have spread our investment on infrastructure. For instance, in the Auckland area we are spending about $3.5 billion on motorways, but $1.5 billion on trains. I hope that in 20 years’ time both of those investments have proven to be useful, and it will need a sharp increase in the patronage of people using public transport to make those investments viable. At the moment, they are pretty marginal.

Dr Russel Norman: Is the Minister aware of the comments made by the chief economist from the International Energy Agency just last year in which he said “oil … is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years—at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.”, and if global oil production peaks in 10 years, does he think that will result in an increase in the price of oil?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think that is anticipated, to a significant extent, because we are seeing any number of energy companies looking at investing in alternative sorts of energy. We are seeing significant investment in solar energy, for instance, which is bringing the price down, and investment in electric cars on a pretty large scale. I think most people expect oil prices will be pretty high, and they are looking for alternatives. In our view that is best left to the market, which has stronger incentives to get it right than Governments trying to follow political fashions.

So much for English’s earlier admission – now being worried about the ability of oil supply to meet demand with out devastating price spikes is just a ‘political fashion’.

The idea that some techno-fix will be created by the market save us if oil prices get too high is rubbish. English may as well ask Key’s pixies down the bottom of the garden to magic up an alternative energy system.

The next oil shock is just a few years away. By that time the government expects there to be a only few hundred electric cars in the country. And a cycleway of oil-spike recessions will only force companies to cut R&D – not that there are any alternatives to oil for fuelling a car-based economy (there’s not enough lithium or rare earths to make nearly enough batteries, even if we did have the extra electric power capacity).

We can’t sit around and expect the market will produce cars that don’t need oil in sufficient quantities when the oil spikes come.

The Government needs to take some responsibility and realise that, when it comes to transport, the government is the prime shaper of the market – it is the one that decides whether there will be more roads, encouraging more driving, or sustainable alternatives for people to choose.

Wait, did I just say the Government needs to be responsible? Ah. I think I see the problem.

103 comments on “Nats turn blind eye to peak oil ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The psychopaths telling us that an irrational response to an anticipated crisis is fine…

    In our view that is best left to the market, which has stronger incentives to get it right than Governments trying to follow political fashions.

    The capitalist-free-market has no such incentives unless a law is passed that has the capitalists pay for the replacements if they get it wrong – which ain’t gona happen.

    • Bored 1.1

      They make me feel psychopathic (actually I think it is really the Clausewitzian approach kicking in)…to the guillotine.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Whether I vote for Greens or Labour next election will depend on their policy response (if any) to PO. I suspect Labour won’t officially mention it, so my vote will probably be going to the Greens by default.

    I was hoping the interview with Bill English on National Radio this morning where he continued to lie about the “revenue neutral” tax cuts (said it at least 5 times) would confront him with the question “what if the oil prices spike and the growth you predicted isn’t borne out?”. Alas, no such question.

    Also, from reading I’ve done on lithium, it seems there really is a lot of the stuff around, here’s just one article about it: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61A5AY20100211 “SQM, FMC and Rockwood together control some 8 million tonnes of lithium, said Evans, roughly a quarter of the world’s reserves.
    Just one million tonnes of lithium is enough to produce 395 million units of Chevrolet’s Volt electric car (16kWh) or 250 million units Nissan’s Leaf (24 kWh), Evans said.”

    Similarly rare earths on average are actually more common than silver in the crust, the problem is that unlike silver they don’t concentrate themselves into nice big clumps for easy extraction. Furthermore, rare earths are generally only used in trace amounts, so even large rises in price don’t do much to alter the price of the resultant technology product at the end. This is similar to how the price of uranium is a very minor part of the operational cost of a nuclear reactor – doubling the raw price of uranium increases uranium fuel price by 25%, and increases final electricity cost by only 10%. So even in rare earths do go up greatly in demand and less economical mines are forced into operation, it will not have a large impact on the price of a lithium battery that only uses trace amounts of them.

    • Bored 2.1

      Well spotted Lan. One of the amazing things never mentioned by the techno salvationists is embedded energy used in the life cycle of a product such as a car….so with lithium battery electric cars for example the extraction of all the ores (iron, copper, lithium, aluminium) require oil powered vehicles and diggers, then get smelted using probably fossil fuels which themselves have the same extraction energy costs….then there is the energy cost of transport, manufacture etc.

      By the time an electric car reaches us it may have cost more fossil energy to produce than it will save compared to a petrol driven device car. Then the energy source to fuel it throughout its lifetime come into focus….here in NZ we have lots of hydro, elsewhere its generally coal gas and oil based electricity generation.

      My point is that you, Marty G, Russ Norman and a whole lot of us think that Blingish just has not got a clue, no awareness, no plan etc.and that his ignorance of future events is shared by the majority of the population. Not so, they are fed the propagandist bullshit from the market. He and the ruling elite by contrast have no excuse for selective blindness, they have the information and their approach is mendacious at best, criminally negligent at worst.

    • Bright Red 2.2

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neodymium is pretty rare, that’s the one used in lightweight magnets for electric vehicles

      there are some serious concerns about the availability of enough lithium and other elements to make a serious amount of electric cars. then there’s the production rate, even if the materials are there. Let alone how to generate the electricity for them.

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        If that article I linked to can be trusted, using 1/8th of 1/4th of the world’s lithium resources to make ~250 million electric cars doesn’t seem too horrendous. Yes it’d have long-term (50+ year) issues, but probably some of the lithium can be recycled.

        Production rate is the key, of course, same as with oil.

  3. spam 3

    The next oil shock is just a few years away. By that time the government expects there to be a only few hundred electric cars in the country

    And exactly what will we use to charge these electric cars? Sorry – but electric cars are not the solution to any oil shock. Unless you\’re OK with Nuclear or coal (or preferably gas). However coal and gas are probably better used in converting to liquid hydrocarbons anyway.

    And as for the comment re rare earth metals, that may be true, but again it is not only a matter of availability. It is very energy intensive to extract these metals.

    • KJT 3.1

      Electric cars are not the whole solution, but they will help.
      As for power, we have plenty of scope for renewables apart from our existing under-utilised existing night time spinning reserve.

      Solutions to peak oil and AGW will have to be partly reduced consumption and partly better technology.

      Asking for a return to some sort of agrarian horse drawn utopia is not an option unless you want to kill off a lot of people..

      • There is plenty of scope for micro-generation in homes and businesses – even if it’s just solar water heating. This also has important benefits for Civil Defence. Christchurch would have fared much better, and the emergency been less acute, after the earthquake if every home still standing had been able to produce at least some of the electricity they required while the grid was down. Preferably enough to boil some water each day. Even more basic, all it takes is a $69 / 150w power inverter for a car from DSE to enable a home to make some power, charge some batteries and keep some lights on. I also have a $269 UPS that can keep my mains phone and DSL modem / router up and running for 8 hours. A commitment to some degree of home and business power independence would be a social good of high order….and make the economy more resilient in the affected area, with less disruption. Itjust makes sense….but the Market won’t do it. It’s too stupid.

        • KJT

          Which makes the Government refusal to mandate a smart grid even more puzzling.

          • freedom

            If you want a power company or a Government to limit how much power you are allowed to use then go ahead and install your ‘smart grid’. Any smart grid system is simply a means to restrict an individual’s access to power.

            Yes it is all well and good to be able to monitor your power use etc, but the reality of a smart grid is a very different beastie than the Eco-friendly domestic budget helper that it is being promoted as.

            • insider


              Smart grids are about maximising the efficient use of the grid and generating capacity by moving demand and flattening peaks. The cost of the system is driven by the size of the peak demand. If you can shave the top off the peak through technology and load shifting, you could defer the need to build a power station or grid development. That could save consumers hundreds of millions, maybe not directly but in overall power system costs.

              The way to do it is through incentive pricing. you can choose to have unlimited power on demand if you want but might find it expensive. But there is a long way to go on that and there is some debate about the spread of the differential pricing needed to encourage shifting and cover the cost of the meter and addtional controllers in things like dishwashers. It’s probably not realistic to expect something like 4ckwh prcing at night and 22ckwh in the day – the gap is likely to be much narrower and that may mean people shrug their shoulders and go with what is easy.

              The Government/power companies already have the power and ability to limit your use (go read your contract if you don’t believe me) when it suits them. Smart meters/grid will refine that ability by allowing more specific control of demand rather than cutting off a whole city/region if things get tight.

        • Draco T Bastard

          A commitment to some degree of home and business power independence would be a social good of high order….and make the economy more resilient in the affected area, with less disruption. Itjust makes sense….but the Market won’t do it. It’s too stupid.

          It’s not that the market won’t do because it would mean lower profits. Remove peoples dependence upon the capitalists, which solar power and other home generation would do, and you reduce their profits. The “market” isn’t stupid – it’s irrational. There’s a difference – the capitalists do what’s best for them, which is to maintain everyone’s dependence upon them, to boost profits. It isn’t stupid from their PoV but it is bad for society in the long run (irrational).

          • Steve Withers

            Draco: LOL! 🙂 I absolutely accept THEY think they are being clever. Also agree the Market is irrational. I do understand the distinction and do reject irrationality as an organising principle for society over the longer term.

            But please accept that I am looking at it from the long run perspective of a social participant, not an interested capitalist, and I think it’s stupid. The semantics of a vested-interest capitalist with a short-term view ultimately contrary to their own long term interests…..isn’t relevant for my purposes other than as supporting evidence for my conclusion of stupidity….however clever-clever (a.k.a. “irrational”) the Market may be in the meantime. 🙂

    • Brokenback 3.2

      I simply cannot credit the simplistic views expressed that reflect that we actually have a choice .


      Change, radically the energy budget of our economy or face widespread poverty and social disorder.

      Yes , there is such a thing as a sustainable future , but it bears no resemblance to the past 4 decades of wanton energy waste and proven failed market philosophy.

      We as nation state are well placed , with abundant energy sources , to not only survive “peak Oil” shocks , but actually prosper from the changes.

      Rapidly following ” Peak Oil” are “peak protein” and “peak Potable water ” .

      Smart,ie greedy investors , are well aware of these other peaks , hence many of the resource grabs orchestrated by “thievery R us ” , our current administration.

      • M 3.2.1

        Excellent points.

        We are at peak everything.

        There is no way in the world vehicle fleet (850 million cars) can be replaced by electric as the manufacture of a car uses somewhere between 25-50 barrels of oil. There won’t be enough power to recharge batteries and electricity supply may become patchy.

        For those that doubt we won’t be returning to a largely agrarian society please read up on some of the information mentioned by Brokenback – that’s if people make it through the bottleneck of all the ugly about to rain down on us – sometime within the decade is my guess.

        The die-off around the world will be substantial. Low-lying countries such as Bangladesh fates are already sealed with their huge population. People in the Netherlands will be first-world refugees because of the threat from the sea and many have emigrated here because they are cognizant of that fact. Haiti and many west African nations are the canaries in the mine – when you have people living on dirt cakes because of “help” from the IMF etc and endemic corruption these people will starve. Also the only reason a lot of Africa was opened up was because of cheap oil – there are going to be a lot of stranded people because there are limited rail lines.

        NZ may be better off assuming we can afford some oil or someone is willing to sell it to us but don’t count on it.

        • Draco T Bastard

          IMO, NZ is best off assuming that we lose all access to external oil supplies in the next 10 years.

          • insider

            That’s bizarre even for a peakie.

            If you believe PO is imminent, it is not about suddenly disappearing supply but a stabilizing to decline in production volumes. But what a lot of peakies forget is production is influenced by demand, and demand will also likely drop at the same time in response to expected price rise. BP have talked about not a peak in supply but a peak in demand over the next 10 years.

            As a relatively wealthy country we are still going to have access to production, just as we did when prices went up well over $2/l in the 80s and 2008. Remember there is still a massive amount of oil in various forms still in teh ground. The Canadian oil sands and Orinoco tar fields are estimated to contain more alone than total historic consumption. Extraction cost is the issue

            anti spam – nonsenses 🙂

            • Bright Red

              and what causes demand to fall? High prices that cause recessions. This isn’t some ordinary good, you’re talking major economic disruptions every time the price gets high.

              and everyone knows there’s plenty in the ground but it’s the cost. The cost of something is essentially how much of our productive capacity we have to devote to it – as we’re forced to devote more and more of our capacity to extracting harder to access oil, our ability to produce other things has to reduce, leaving us poorer.

              you should really read that parliamentary paper – it addresses the points you’re raising, which are really just misunderstandings of the issue, quite well.

              • insider

                efficiency, technology change, lifestyle change can all affect demand. Some may be forced, some evolutionary.

                I’ve read it and was underwhelmed. Clint’s been banging on about it for years and I don’t think he was particularly balanced. I got the feeling that he focussed on the most pessimistic views that he shares (eg I found one fact on the first page that is not backed up by his citation and some highly misleading statements that confuse endowment and recovery. Subtle and probably easy to make but nonetheless a bit concerning for something being seen as conclusive). That’s human nature, not a slur – I’d have a similar tendency. I’d like to see who peer reviewed it.

                One of the most obvious areas he missed is putting it into the historical context of past reviews of future energy supplies. You could have read very similar reports 30, 50, 100 years ago. That is quite important as it shows the scope for error even in short term forecasts. There was little about the new opportunities in HC or the total HC endowment – which keeps growing as we see new sources – heavy oils, gas condensates, methane hydrates.

                • lprent

                  The question isn’t that hydrocarbons aren’t available. The question is in the cost of extraction and processing. You can manufacture light hydrocarbons from water and peat if you have to. However the cost could be excessive for any useful purposes – just like most of the sources you mentioned above

            • Draco T Bastard

              And how much of what is remaining in the ground are the oil producing nations willing to sell? Remember, they have their own populations to consider.

              It’s not just supply and demand but who’s buying, who’s selling and if they’re even selling.

              As a relatively wealthy country we are still going to have access to production,

              We may not be a relatively wealthy country in 10 years time. As you righties have pointed out – we’ve gone down the rankings of the OECD

              • Bright Red

                see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_Land_Model for what DtB is talking about.

                exporters will supply themselves first, and if oil is running really short will choose to produce less now to ensure their own future supply.

                captcha – severe

                • insider

                  For some maybe but for Saudi Arabia? What else can they sell to maintain their wealth? A couple of day’s production would last them years. It’s a bit like us preserving all our sheep meat and dairy for domestic demand and putting it in a warehouse for a rainy day.

                  I think there is more a risk that exporters and some importers will develop cosy arrangements eg Saudi and US – either that or the marines will come calling..I’d be building up my nuke arsenal if I were Israel…

                  • Zorr

                    Funnily enough you can put oil in to a “warehouse” for a rainy day and considering the fact that all around the world people are doing this should be a warning. I can never remember the term used for the process whereby mostly empty oil wells are refilled with production from another well as a form of holding silo.

                    • insider

                      Not sure of anyone doing that Zorr. Why pump it out to put it back in? Waste gas is used to pressurise older wells.

                      The US have a strategic oil reserve which they store in salt caverns mainly. It will only last a few months though.

                    • Marty G

                      insider. people are warehousing oil. countries have done it for a long time, of course, but private oil companies are doing it too now.

                    • >insider. people are warehousing oil. countries have done it for a long time, of course, but private oil companies are doing it too now.<
                      Marty G
                      At best I think the global capacity for storing oil is 3 months.
                      NZ is meant to have 3 months supply in storage on land, (according to international agreements), at best we have 1 months worth in New Zealand …. but the criminals in charge have an arrangement with Norway and Japan (J imports 99% of its energy) to supply us with the balance.
                      Small private storage will only be good for local warlords.

                      And a poem for the day

                      I can still remember the time before the crash
                      when we all drove around in cars and I had lots of cash
                      and anything I wanted, I’d just go out and buy
                      I’d even drive a mile or two – just to buy a pie

                      but then the oil wars started and everything collapsed
                      the supermarket shelves were stripped before a month elapsed
                      and people all turned really grim and gained a hungry look
                      we’d steal from anyone at all we’d kill for things to cook

                      and everywhere disease and grief and bodies left to rot
                      while gangs of grim and brutal men would kill and steal and plot
                      and people fled the cities and countless numbers died
                      and everything was so so bad not even mothers cried

                      our house was one of many then, a normal family home
                      but it was stripped and burnt for fuel when we had left to roam
                      and I remember mum and dad, my little sister too
                      but they were killed and eaten back sometime in ‘22

                      and now I know I’m dying, I’ve left no living heirs
                      nobody is alive to know there’s not a soul who cares
                      there’s only me so damned hungry I’m gnawing at the trees
                      there’s no-one left to kill and eat oh God please help me please

                      and as I stagger on and on through burnt and plundered homes
                      I see the the signs of rage and ruin and countless human bones
                      I hear the starving pack of dogs that follow close behind
                      and I am now so close to death I hardly even mind

                      I fall and screaming dogs begin to rip and shred my life
                      my mind drifts back to days of oil and to my kids and wife
                      oh life was so so simple then and life was so so good
                      but all we had we wasted, we never understood

                      Murray Hobbs

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    I think there is more a risk that exporters and some importers will develop cosy arrangements eg Saudi and US – either that or the marines will come calling

                    This is a very interesting point. The economics of it are one thing, but I think it’s kind of dangerous to assume that the energy market in twenty years is going to look like the one that exists today only with higher prices.

                    Producer nations will be able to leverage their supply into political power to an extent, but non state actors will see opportunity ago-go when energy prices are so vital, and the raw material is distributed via pipelines through virtually uninhabited terrain. The supply infrastructure and trade routes are what to look at.

                    For example: China’s growing relationship with Pakistan which will give it a sea port on the Indian ocean (from which a blue water navy will be able to influence the gulf routes) and potentially a gas link through the ‘stans.

                    On top of this sort of thing from ‘rising powers’ seeking to secure exclusive access to energy supplies from client states in return for military or other support, you will have 4th gen warfare actors. Think here about shell’s ‘problems’ in Africa, where they are running a low level war against locals who can disrupt supply quite cheaply by attacking pipelines.

                    Similar tactics will be an obvious route for groups seeking either a safe place to hide (turn a blind eye or we blow up your shit in out of the way places), cash, or to cause economic damage to their enemies. Systems disruption is going to be the Next Big Thing in terrorism.

    • Shane Gallagher 3.3

      There is plenty of power for cars – a study done by Canterbury Uni showed that 500 10 MW wind turbines around the country would power an electric car fleet of the same size and level of usage as we have now. The problem is range and that is easily solved if you have swappable batteries – a solution so simply it took a genius to think it up… There are trials going on in Israel, Denmark and Australia.
      We could go for boring old lead acid batteries in the meantime or maybe get well ahead of the game and buy up the current world supply before everyone else starts to… 🙂
      We could easily go electric using off the shelf cars and swapping out the power trains for electric ones with swappable batteries in service stations that currently exist (you know petrol stations) and have charging systems at car parks and we don’t have to invest heavily in infrastructure as we have the electricity network in place.
      Encouraging local micro-generation and efficiency savings would also be really good and relatively easy to do.
      Anyway, just a few thoughts – but we do not have the leadership in the main parties to do something vaguely approaching a solution. The Greens are the only party with the vision to solve these problems. Remember the Greens have been talking about this for a very long time now…

      • Bright Red 3.3.1

        that’s 5000MW of installed capacity. A 50% on the current amount.

        So, we’re basically talking about needing to build our electricity system half again to supply an eletric car fleet.

        Sure, it’s possible but it wouldn’t be easy or cheap (over $20 billion based on the cost of project Hayes) and, crucially, the government isn’t doing it and it’s the government that needs to lead when it comes to infrastructure on this scale.

      • insider 3.3.2

        Unfortunately there are no 10MW turbines. Plenty of theory not so much power. If there are going to be they will be about 180m diameter – 50% bigger than now. Not sure there are that many sites suited to such behemoths.

        The Elctricity Commission did a modelling of this as well and said a high take up of cars was possible by the mid 2020s – but from memory it had a whole bunch of caveats eg mandate no more fossil fuels for electricity and using the cars for reactive support by pluggin them in during peak times.

        Plug in batteries is nice in theory – bit like swappa bottle – but means every module has to be the same. that could mean everyone gets a Lada 🙂

        • Shane Gallagher

          Sorry – that was 500 1 MW turbines… had a bit of Friday-itis!

          • insider

            Not sure about those calculations.

            500MW is 1300 gWh a year (at a generous 30% generation factor for wind) which is 4.7pJ@ 278GWh/PJ. Total petrol consumption is 105PJ – and that’s just petrol, not diesel.

            You might want to check my numbers though…

            • KJT

              Energy demand for internal transport (Fuel directly from service stations) in 2007 was 171 PJ.

              There is considerable scope for using existing spinning reserve and distributed generation as well as new renewables.
              More efficient use of transport as well as electrifying existing transport would be needed.

              The most efficient use of electricity would be long distance trains and transport within city limits by cars and trucks.

              Leaving fossil fuels, at least in the short term, for intercity trucking and car travel.

              • KJT

                There is a long way to go for all renewables. Total fossil fuel use is around 500PJ.

                • Doug

                  I think the study being refered to is the Waikato University (not Canterbury) one by Mike Duke in Energy Policy. The reason why the projected energy demand is so low is because he assumed that if we are smart we would use relatively lightweight aerodynamic EVs. Not the currently proposed EVs which are just ICEs in drag.

                  High efficiency EVs are much more EE than ICE vehicles. The study can be found via Google Scholar

                  • KJT

                    Waikato’s senior engineering classes (Mike’s Department) are involved in making low energy use vehicles.
                    They also research advances composites from renewable materials such as flax.

              • insider

                I chose petrol because we are talking about cars mainly for electricity demand. Can’t see trucks/machinery, which are the main diesel buyers making much use of it. All numbers are suitably rough but look close enough for discussion’s sake.

                Not sure you can use spinning reserve. Even though it is not needed most of the time, I don’t think you can discriminate local grid demand from EVs, link it to spinning reserve generation and then divert the current needed from core grid reserve in an emergency. Smart meters might help but that would be more affecting local networks not grid.

                • KJT

                  Already do it with ripple control on hot water cylinders. Smart grids can do much more.

                  • insider

                    I was talking abut linking the ‘spare’ capacity of spinning reserve to EV charging that you suggested. Agreed you can ripple control anything in need and SMs will in theory give a more detailed level of control but doesn’t need to be linked to reserve availability, it can mainly be managed through linking to off peak demand – ie no charging at 6pm in winter when a southerly is rolling through.

                • KJT

                  I agree about trucks and machinery. Better use of rail and/or shipping is a partial answer for transport.
                  Even getting all our commuter travel (and maybe short truck journeys) on to electric has a big effect on emissions and payments for oil. A good start.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Can’t see trucks/machinery,

                  Considering that electric motors are more powerful, efficient and reliable I’d say that moving trucks and machinery across first is a better idea.

                  Really, I think getting trains, trucks and machinery onto electric and the removal of personal cars, where possible (cars are expensive toys), is the best option.

                  • insider

                    I think there is a problem with weight of batteries needed relative to loads. Probably something inverse squarish.

                  • M

                    Yes removal of personal cars is probably only achievable by taxing them out of existence with exemptions for people with para/quadraplegia, MS, motor neurone etc. These exemptions would need to be strictly enforced to stop gaming of the system.

                    Totally agree with trains, trucks and machinery being electrified as we are very lucky here with all our hydro but in any event this would need to be carefully managed.

                    The government needs to get with the programme and start rationing right away gradually moving to prohibitive taxes for ownership of private vehicles. People will naturally be upset but my grandparents and parents got by perfectly well without cars and as a result had healthy, svelte children. How hard is it to read a bus or train timetable and plan your day accordingly? Any fuel we may have access to will be sorely needed for the emergency services.

                    Electricity may also need to be offline for parts of the day. I recall my mother saying that when she was young the power was off between 1 pm and 4 pm and that her mother always made sure the jug was full and switched on at 12.50 pm so a pot of tea could be made. Attitude is always the most important factor when hardship comes to call – you can either crumple into a heap weeping or wo/man up and meet things head on.

                    • KJT

                      Heavy machinery and long haul trucks will not be electrified for some time/if ever as the energy density required for a days work is beyond current battery technology.

                      Buses or trains are less efficient than cars if they are running a lot of the time with less than a few people on them. Though eventually I expect they will take over in areas of higher population density.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Heavy machinery and long haul trucks will not be electrified for some time…

                      Some heavy machinery could be connected to the grid so no need of large batteries. Long haul trucks = trains. Small trucks across town from the distribution centres may have to stay on fuel depending on use and some (Trolley buses) can be connected to the grid as well.

                      Buses or trains are less efficient than cars if they are running a lot of the time with less than a few people on them.

                      Then you only run them when they’re full, i.e, when people are going to/from work. Even then I’ve seen trains full in the middle of the day as well so it may only be from late at night to early morning when they don’t run – same as now in fact.

                    • The closest I’ve seen the government get to being prepared is this report http://oilcrash.com/articles/odr_rep.htm
                      Rationing will see most personal transport reduced to walking, and prisoners will come before pensioners, after all prisoners are wards of the state and pensioners are just old people 😉
                      We need to form neighborhood watch groups, to gather together to stop people being kicked out of their homes.
                      Not having running water or electricity will make life more of an adventure. If we can maintain food and water supplies, and law and order, then life in the new walking communities would be rather pleasant, but getting from here to there is the problem

      • Lanthanide 3.3.3

        insider alluded to this. Swappable batteries is a nice idea on paper, but when put into practice many many problems spring up. Safety, compatibility, faulty batteries, ownership of batteries etc.

  4. RedLogix 4

    The NACTs won’t dare sully their brand by going anywhere near anything as big and scary as this.

  5. Are electric cars really a solution? They use lithium batteries…and lithium is in tight supply, with Bolivia producing half of the world’s supply of it. Any way you look at it, a mass transit system powered by a renewable resource is the only sane way forward. If we could just get the same number of cars off the roads as are removed by school holidays it would be a huge improvement and could remove the need for many of the new roads entirely. It’s a shame the trucking and bus lobbies own this government. Short-sighted policies combined with some ‘don’t-wanna-know-really’ seem to be the rule for the National Party….and a heck of a lot of voters, too, to be fair to the Nats. Labour was better only toward the end of their 9 years…but was hobbled by the effect on public opinion of the global corporate media campaign (don’t know what else to call it – that’s what it looked like) against climate change as a reality.

    • KJT 5.1

      Don’t have to use lithium. Cheaper batteries are fine for electric cars that commute less than 50 km/day. Less sophisticated bodywork and mechanicals are also fine for commuter cars capable of less than 50km/hr.
      They could be produced here from biodegradable composites for a fraction of the price and energy use of our current motor vehicles.
      Also see the Scandinavian design for a combination electric car that couples to a monorail for longer distance travel.

  6. john 6

    Russel’s 1st Question sounds as if he’s trying to prompt a child to say the right thing!
    Russel’s 2nd question again hinting rather than speaking plainly like a man should, for example Peak Oil is here and is probably the cause of the global economic recession for the reason that an ever increasing supply of cheap fuel is dead and gone so we should be investing primarily in public transport, not motorways!!

    Bill English’s second answer says he thinks further steeply rising oil prices are unlikely, and if they do rise market pressure will force people onto bikes and public transport but he doesn’t see any need to plan for what he thinks probably won’t happen.

    With something like Peak Oil Market economics are totally useless; it’s a sort of voluntary dumbing down: we refuse to plan for this certainty just not part of our limited tool set.
    Russel’s 3rd question is infuriatingly not to the point.

    English’s last answer is Peak Oil is not the Government’s worry! GOD MARKET will sort it all out in due time! We are not going to do any Stalinist central control economy planning here MATE! Not our worry.
    But Peak Oil does require forward planning as stated in the Hirsch Report(10 to 20 years before), if we don’t we will suffer much much more

  7. Who is building a proto-type? I’d invest money in that.

      • Foolsgold 7.1.1

        Immature and short sighted comment as usual.

        • comedy

          Haw haw haw

          • roger nome

            Everyone’s acting like the freedom to drive cars around is the main concern. It isn’t. Only a small percentage of the oil we use is burned in cars. It’s food and transportation of goods that are going to be the real problems. Very serious problems.

            • KJT

              I do not think anyone thinks the freedom to drive cars is the main concern. Any fossil fuel saving we can make, though, has benefits economically and environmentally.
              The less used in cars, the more is available for other uses, while still reducing overall consumption.
              The aim should be to only use fossil fuels where a substitute is not realistically avai9lable in the medium term.

    • KJT 7.2

      There was a prototype in the UK with a good leasing business model.
      It has disappeared off the web since however. If I was a conspiracy theorist I would suspect an oil company bought them off.

    • Bored 7.3

      I think it should be called a “bicycle”…only half joking here because the basic lightweight nature of bikes is very suitable to electric assistant power that can be generated and stored from pedal power if necessary. If I could leave my bike in the sun all day and recieve enough assistance to easily go the 130 vertical meters to my house from work I would be well pleased.

      • KJT 7.3.1

        Wasn’t a lot different from a bicycle with a composite body.
        Should be called a quadracycle i suppose.

        • KJT

          The interesting part was the suggested business model. Leasing by the manufacturer to help prevent planned obsolescence, people who only used one occasionally did not have the expense of ownership and so that users did not have to have two cars. One for commuting and one for long distance travel..

  8. Brokenback 8

    All interested parties please , please check:


    Devote some time to the archives , the past 5 years has seen a massive increase in R&D from all sectors on energy matters .
    >$USD 100/Barrel really gave a quantum boost to research budgets and there are literally thousands of avenues that our sophisticated broadbased economy can trial ,implement , refine and on sell to the global economy.

    But , like the monetarist “revolution of the 80/90’s it requires Govt intervention.
    Which is never going to happen with the current halfwits , and is highly unlikely to happen with a Goff/King Labor dry government, unless the popular clamor for such action becomes to hard to ignore.

  9. zimmer 9

    Well, we may as well start mining S4 land then. Peak oil will mean that no one will be able to see all of this pristine land in cars and buses. An un intended consequence of Peak Oil?

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      There is also not likely to be huge amounts of fuel available to mine S4 land, or to ship it to overseas markets. Also those markets probably won’t want our minerals either, as there will be less use for them in an energy constrained future.

      • ZeeBop 9.1.1

        Its all in the marketing. Call it a holy site. Tell everyone that they can not be truely
        kiwi until they’ve tramped into the center of fjord land and dug out a kg of rock.
        Win-win for tourism and mining. Call it the holy ZeeBop trek.

  10. George.com 10

    English is asked if NZ economic growth is vulnerable to high oil prices. His reply, “yes”.

    He then follows up that answer with the comment “the record in NZ is that with economic growth, traffic volumes tend to grow”.

    Try and spot the contradiction in those two statements.

    English later drops in this gem, “In our view this is best left to the market, which ahs stronger incentives to get it right…”.

    What, like it did in 2008?

    “ck. If I needed any more incentive to continue pushing for inter city rail, this lot are surely providing it.

    • ZeeBop 10.1

      There is a very plausible reason why English cannot conceive of peak oil. He’s paided not to,
      like his boss, like the core of the National party who have too much darn invested in the
      current setup and who have ‘other options’ should NZ fail. But don’t worry, National
      PR team are as we speak research what themes hit true with peak oil believers and
      merging them into the script for the next election campaign.

  11. Zaphod Beeblebrox 11

    Asking these obvious questions must be like shooting fish in a barrel for Norman at the moment. You’d have to wonder though- where is Labour on these issues? Are they too scared or just too politically unaware to latch onto these issues when they hit public conciousness?

    Given they now have the Welly mayoralty and a chunk of the Auckland council you’d have to think the Greens are on the rise.

  12. They are all the same
    This from a friend who work in the big house for about a year … writing reports etc for MPs

    I don’t give a —– anymore …..I’m sick of listening to myself repeating myself. Parliament is nothing but a PR (spin) game with PR (populist) laws that are designed to pander to peoples fears rather any science disciplines. Just remembering the place makes me want to vomit ….

    He is a man of honor, who would rather struggle than sit on a 70K salary, pushing crap around the Beehive with a toothpick.

    They are all out and out opportunist, with only their personal self interest at heart.
    I think Clark was a glearing example … [I am particularly sick of that lie] to look good for election purposes, then when she didn’t get her 4th term bang out of here [hah! — r0b]. Then all the other carpetbaggers who are costing New Zealand $600,000 per by-election … I wonder how many people in the Mana electorate will die due to not enough money in the health budget … thanks Winne.
    But you are ok got her cancer cleared up .. now off to another do nothing cushy job.
    She said to me once after I handed her some peak oil info while chatting to Darren Hughes, that she/they should find some funds to help get the information out to schools etc … still waiting Winne.
    I sent all the tossers this request http://oilcrash.com/articles/concernd.htm all I asked for was $30k to post 5 DVDs and relevant teachers aids to every secondary school.

    I gave Bilngelish quite a bit of peak oil info when he was the leader of National (how long ago was that?) and in front of about 200 people I asked him to view the information through his youngest child’s eyes, he probably poked them out with a stick first.

    And I gave [that one about Key can go too while I’m at it] all this info at the Al Gore presentation in Auckland http://oilcrash.com/articles/algore01.htm believe me the gutter trash we have running this country over the cliff know what they are doing.
    I can’t think of words bad enough to describe what I think of them all.
    Remember I’ve been degrading myself for years trying to get these criminals to start acting in the best interest of New Zealand.
    Sometimes I feel like a rape victim, and need a hot shower to wash the stench of the bastards out of my hair.

    • mouse 12.1

      I can’t think of words bad enough to describe what I think of them all. – I Can “Culpable”.

  13. Great article Marty
    But least we forget Norman and co voted for Kiwi Saver … as dependent on cheep oil as everything else in this system, why did the greed party support this environmental destroying ponzi scam? Because the greeds are just a sub branch of Labour, at the time their other ‘co leader’ Helen told them how to vote.
    The greeds are as much to blame for where we are now as the rest of them.
    The Maori Party tried, they asked for an inter party conference on peak oil and climate change, 3 times during the 2005 elections, and at least twice in Parliament
    Snip –

    Need for Cross Party Commission on Peak Oil
    Thursday, 6 December 2007, 3:35 pm
    Press Release: The Maori Party

    Maori Party Repeats call for Cross Party Commission on Peak Oil

    Hone Harawira, Climate Change Spokesperson for the Maori Party

    Thursday 6 December 2007

    The Maori Party has today reiterated the call it made on 4 September 2005 – 4 September 2005 – 4 September 2005 – 4 September 2005 to establish a cross-party parliamentary commission on peak oil. (NOTE THE DATE)

    Right at this moment in London an All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas and the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group are meeting to focus on the interaction between oil depletion and climate change and whether a combined solution can be developed said Hone Harawira, Climate Change Spokesperson for the Maori Party.

    Just prior to the 2005 elections, we issued a challenge to all parties that we work together to address the issues around oil shortages said Harawira.

    Our intention then as it is now is to reduce this countrys reliance on non-renewable energy sources – and to make that a priority issue for this Parliament said Harawira.

    End snip ….

    We are still waiting.

  14. And as far as that other lump of lard we have paving as much of NZ as he can.
    Back in 2005 I got done for spray painting http://www.oilcrash.com across 2 National Party whordings (intended spelling) http://oilcrash.com/articles/natnl_01.htm this was Nationals reaction to Peak Oil back in 2005 … imprison the messenger 😉
    I’m sure many on this list will get a smile out of this … It cost me $1,650 and 10 Saturdays doing PD … who did I have to send the money to ? Why the then campaign manager – Steven Joyce –

    anti spam word ‘performances’ … should be ‘lack of’

    • mouse 14.1

      Robert the spray painted “oilcrash.com” signs, started my personal journey… and I thank you.

      • Robert Atack 14.1.1

        The lengths I went to?
        The signs cost about a dollar each, a friend and I stuck up 50 the night before the Lord of The Rings premier, I nearly got done by KCDC, they were going to charge me costs if they had to remove anymore, WCC were fine, a couple were used as props on the second night of Campbell Live (it went down hill from there), so got a bit of mileage out of them and ‘converted’ several people.

        These photos represent maybe 10% of what I’ve been up to over the years, excluding the 10-12,000 DVDs I’ve given away, also a talk I gave during the 2007 Kapiti local body elections, I was using the election platform to try (in vain) to educate – at least the people who bothered turning up at the meeting, as you can hear I used my time to talk about the real issues we all face, not the day to day trivia we mostly focus on.

        Published on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 by Orion Magazine
        Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change

        by Derrick Jensen

        Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal solutions?

        Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide. END SNIP

  15. A small sample of the information available to our great leader


    Future Chaos: There Is No “Plan B”
    Note: This article builds on my recent report, Prediction: Things Will Unravel Faster Than You Think. It explores the coming energy crunch in more detail by looking at existing government planning and awareness, and the implications of what international recognition of Peak Oil as early as 2012 might mean.

    The hard news is that there is no “Plan B.” The future is likely to be more chaotic than you probably think. This was the primary conclusion that I came to after attending the most recent Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO) in Washington, DC in October, 2010.

    The impact of Peak Oil on markets, lifestyles, and even national solvency deserves our very highest attention – but, it turns out, some important players seem to be paying no attention at all.

  16. Bill 16

    What you want English to do?

    a) Do you expect him to throw his hands in the air, admit that market Capitalism is doomed due to that impending oil crunch and relinquish his privileged status as the current scheme of things is thrown to the four winds?


    b) Do you expect him to protect his privileged status and the current scheme of things for as long as he can?

    I’m guessing he’ll do the same as almost every other privileged person.

    Hell, even people who create about peak oil and climate change just keep on ‘keeping on’ all the while expecting the government to do something, ie the government that is staffed and run by privileged people. (Who are going to choose b) by the way. In case you were wondering.)

    And if you were wondering, then you don’t need to any more. And you can also stop expecting the government to do anything and sing that happy song as you keep on keeping on, why don’t you?

    • You are on to it Bill.
      Yeah it is all pointless, I’ve kind of always said that. Along the lines of “It is all pointless, look I will show you” , but what the hell I turned 40 and had nothing better to do, and it felt good being so far ahead of the pack.
      And if ya see a kindy burning, even though letting the kids die is the environmentally friendly thing to do, ya just can’t help ya self.
      You are right on how they think etc, just like any group of leaders that have crawled up the pecking order, more recent examples – Hitler, Starlin, Pol Pot, the North Korean guy, and so on.
      The great leveler will be peak oil, and the shitstorm it brings, even if it is a slow crash … say 5 – 10 years (depending on quality of lifestyle you are happy to accept) before it really goes tits up, a yearly famine of say 40 – 50 million would be tolerable? but at some point it has to get worse.

      I guess some sort of North Korean type global govt would be able to function for a while ? Using slave labor in the fields, but even then at some stage they will run out of the energy to maintain even that level of lifestyle, but they are still functioning in Burma, Zimbabwe, and North Korea, so maybe ‘they’ will maintain control long after we go into free fall.
      It would only take a month or 2 to starve the population down to a manageable number, then ‘we’ would have years worth of oil, and a massive amount of infrastructure, maybe there is a point to Nacts roads … it must help build up collateral.
      Peak oil may also see a rush of paying immigrants, as the rats leave the sinking ships, we may see a few more rock idols moving into high country estates? Or the vacated bedrooms of the starved masses.
      And yeah sitting here, on this thing is very much ‘keeping on’ but what else is their to do? Go live in a cave? Become some sort of anti growth/system terrorist? Blow up a maternity ward? While the people are happy being lied to, and most of the people are happy, then nothing is going to change, and being as we are now maybe 25 years to late (depending on rates of decline) to do a bloody thing about our situation, then bad luck. The lucky ones are the 75 – 80 year olds.
      The Olympics and Commonwealth Games have been fine examples of how governments treat their people.

  17. Brett 17

    I can’t get past the appalling photo shopping of Bill English.

  18. ZeeBop 18

    Three strikes, arming Police, building roads, denying a oil crunch is bearing down.

    Yeah, sound mighty like the government knows all too much about a new world
    economy bursting out starting with potentially massive social unrest.

    Labour don’t want to win next election.

    • mouse 18.1

      Fascism in New Zealand won’t come with jackboots, book burnings, mass rallies, and fevered harangues, nor will it come with black helicopters or tanks on the street. It won’t come like a storm but as a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: Everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality will have taken its place. All the old forms will still be there: legislatures, elections, campaigns’ plenty of bread and circuses. But consent of the governed will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small and privileged group who rule for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.
      To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among the elite, and a degree of debate will be permitted; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized usually by the people themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by a thoroughly impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, left ignorant of current events by a corporate media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.
      The rulers will act in secret, for reasons of national security, and the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, state murder of enemies selected by the leader, undeclared wars, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new security structures targeted at the populace. In time, this will be seen as normal, as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone. It will all seem normal.”
      –Chris Floyd, November 10, 2001 Moscow Times (English edition)

      • ZeeBop 18.1.1

        What is described is a cancer, not fascism, cells misfunction, reproduce unlimitedly, spread wildly, cancerous cells still function even performing their duties correctly for one fact, they have stopped dying when they are told.
        Currently we are in a cancerous financial crisis, where the value assumed a few years ago backed up by growing oil surpluses and demand unable to keep up, has ended. The value then became cancerous, toxic because it didn’t die, the market didn’t expose the self-feeding effect, where working poor could buy homes they never could afforded to buy but because the working poor all over the world were buying unaffordable homes the prices were going up and it looks like it was all going to pay off! Alas 99% would lose since they should of pocketed the gains on the way up by buying massive numbers of homes and then selling them at a profit, and basically everyone could not do that! So the cancer instead of being exposed by the political organs, instead was started by a political organism, a disfunction cell itself.
        Cancer started very early on, Thatcher came to power rightly arguing that the markets needed more liquidity if Britian was to sty competitive and take a cut of the now gushing Middle East Oil glut, but the rancid cancer that hijacked Thatcherism, the hero worship, the heroin worship! Solidified the memetic creed, unwilling to accept criticism, admit error, state the truth when asked, justify the old system before replacing it. We all stopped spotting the cancerous politicians and kept cheering them on. Like English – fair and balance tax cut which burdens the working poor with higher taxes and borrows off their future wealth creation to give the tax cut to the wealthy.
        You see any part of a society, a subsociety can become fascist, the adherence of us and them, Henrified if you will, you’re either kiwi or your nt kiwi enough, it can take but 15 seconds of sound bite. Similarly any fiscal group can go commie, go centrally planning, just by saying they don’t need to clean up, don’t need to be clear about what and why they are switching off the old lights before they’ve even built the new, geniuses who don’t need to know why the stakeholders built the trains to run on time, so build propose flying cars to replace them (sorry electric cars).
        Key, English are clearly cancerous. Cancers hurt themselves in order to grow unlimitedly and so eat up the resources of the body until they die along with the body politic. The wealthy will always lose their shirts, they will just lose their shirts faster and crash soceity if they persist in spinning more cancerous memes. I’ve said repeatedly that while FOX remains broadcasting you can be damn sure the crisis isn’t solved. And its not FOX shutting up shop and rebranding itself, its us just stop listening to it and spotting the cancerous politicians.
        Key must resign, English must resign. They’ve had their chance to prove they can both govern and lead, and they’ve lied and led us nowhere. Better men would just fall on their sword.

  19. Draco T Bastard 19


    Finance Minister Bill English today poured cold water on Auckland’s planned rail projects such as the CBD link, airport rail and North Shore rail.
    He labelled the plans so far “airy fairy” and declared: “We have much higher priorities than potentially uneconomic public transport projects in Auckland.”

    Remember the holiday highway were we lose 40c for every dollar spent? Yeah, I don’t think our finance minister knows the meaning of the word “economic”.

  20. RascallyRabbit 20

    Notice that this isn’t the only impending crisis where the Nats response is to stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and hope that hiding under the bed and wishing “the market” to scare the monster away?!

    Looking forward to a double banger of peak oil and the baby boomers/demographic/retirement/pensions bubble!

    What an ambitious for New Zealand future!

  21. Croc 21

    One of the best books I have read on this issue: The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World by John Michael Greer

    In The Ecotechnic Future, John Michael Greer dispels our fantasies of a tidy, controlled transition from industrial society to a post-industrial milieu. The process will be ragged and rugged and will not invariably constitute an evolutionary leap for the human species. It will, however, offer myriad opportunities to create a society that bolsters complex technology which at the same time maintains a sustainable interaction with the ecosystem. Greer brilliantly inspires us to integrate the two in our thinking and to construct local communities which concretely exemplify this comprehensive vision.” —Carolyn Baker, author of Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse, and publisher/editor, Speaking Truth to Power

    In response to the coming impact of peak oil, John Michael Greer helps us envision the transition from an industrial society to a sustainable ecotechnic world—not returning to the past, but creating a society that supports relatively advanced technology on a sustainable resource base.

    Fusing human ecology and history, this book challenges assumptions held by mainstream and alternative thinkers about the evolution of human societies. Human societies, like ecosystems, evolve in complex and unpredictable ways, making it futile to try to impose rigid ideological forms on the patterns of evolutionary change. Instead, social change must explore many pathways over which we have no control. The troubling and exhilarating prospect of an open-ended future, he proposes, requires dissensus—a deliberate acceptance of radical diversity that widens the range of potential approaches to infinity.

    Written in three parts, the book places the present crisis of the industrial world in its historical and ecological context in part one; part two explores the toolkit for the Ecotechnic Age; and part three opens a door to the complexity of future visions.

    For anyone concerned about peak oil and the future of industrial society, this book provides a solid analysis of how we got to where we are and offers a practical toolkit to prepare for the future.


    • Highly unlikely future, first 7 billion people minus oil, natural gas, and coal = probably 300 million to 1 billion survivors.
      We need to have a toga party on top of say Mt Vic, have it on a windy rainy day, bring a couple of sticks if you want a fire, we will have to forage for some party snacks, we should sit around for a few hours to acclimatise, while nibbling our snacks (the od unlucky rodent or bark) now we are all wet cold and hungry, we can start to discuss what to do, say with the pregnant woman sitting in the corner, or the 80 year old suffering a heart problem, or how we are going to survive the next day. We could introduce a pack of ‘westies’ as gate crashers, there maybe a shortage of rodents and bark in Porirua.
      That is the situation this government is leaving us in, while keeping the masses focused on debates about go nowhere roads, and the bloody rugby world cup.
      Alas with so many pig ignorant lazy ‘happy’ people (read 99% of the population) nothing will change for the better.
      Going extinct is such a messy business.

  22. Spoon feeding the masses

    What Should I Do?

    The most common question by far we get on this website is: “What should I do?”. Once people watch The Crash Course and are awakened to the very real threats posed by peak oil and reckless monetary policy, they understandably want to know how to position themselves intelligently.

    Our recommendation: start building resilience into your life today. Ensure you, your family, and your community are as prepared and sustainably situated as possible so that you enjoy a high quality of life regardless of how the future plays out.

    My staff and I have distilled the astounding wealth of knowledge our community members have shared on this site and combined it with our extensive experience to recommend specific steps and products for you to consider in your personal preparations. We think this compilation offers tremendous value: for someone just starting out, it would literally take hundreds of hours to replicate this informed guidance yourself. We’re proud to offer it to you today, free of charge.


  23. Gina 23

    I think National know that “you don’t mess with the oil cartels”. The biggest and most powerful companies on earth. And I think labour also know this.

    Take a look at this 2008 video of Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman
    interviewing Antionia Juhasz writer of a book entitled.

    “The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry—And What We Must Do to Stop It”

    Pt 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPeY00TaTC8
    Pt 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5Sh5JH5Es8

    Antonia is fellow with Oil Change International and the Institute for Policy Studies. Her earlier book is The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.

    From the interview Antonia says “The banks that have survived so far: Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, the two banks with oil companies that founded their own unregulated crude futures exchange, on which the majority of crude oil futures are now traded, which have sent the price skyrocketing and put, essentially, control of this—the most important factor determining the world economy into the hands of speculative traders, many of whom are former Enron traders, working at the banks, working at the oil companies and working at hedge funds.”

    Muldoon made the mistake of trying to make NZ oil independant and I believe was politically assasinated by these people who will fight to retain their power through their oil interests.Its about control and the oil cartels are not going to give that control up without a fight. They have the entire US military at their feet.
    If NZ tries to diverge from their rule we will be penalised. International banking and the oil Business have taken over the fake democracy of America and have the tools to enforce their agenda.

    In the US they can now efficiently make oil from waste by superheating and carbonising all sorts of waste materials they estimate this technology is capable of supplying the US with all its oil needs. I don’t see the banking/oil industry allowing it to develop further unless they have complete control ovr it and can manipulate the price of the end product which apparantly is much less than pulling oil out of the ground. There is enough waste to supply what the US cannot import.

    The Greens will never support a technolgy that produces oil and any major attempts by governments that threaten oil sales will see us penalised by the banking arms of those companies.

    The world is in a vice like grip of the Oil/Banking/Markt mafia and our polititcians can now only tinker. Our democratic government is being being pushed further and we really must admit the secret government (not so secret anymore) are making more and more demands that democratically elected governments are submitting to with the threat of international financial implosion unless we comply.

    Let’s not pretend that National or Labour can do anything against the wishes of these industries without severe consequences for our economy and perhaps our security.

    It’s revolution with major consequences now or our hands will be tied forever. NZ will be lost if we don’t act but there may be consequences. Lets keep a close eye on how other countries are dealing with these industries.
    And of course we do need to be a repulic to protect against the influence of the US/Anglo alliance. I think labour will be well aware of what happened to Goff Whitlam long ago when he tried to kick the US spy base out. The British governor general dissolved the government. And what can the Brits do about the US anyway. There are US nuclear missiles all over the UK. What fools the Brits were to allow that to happen.

  24. Gina 24

    “The British governor general dissolved the government.” Sorry I mean’t the Australian Governor General.

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