Roger Helmer: Peak Oil or false summit?
The doomsters have spoken. We're facing "peak oil" – a point of maximum production, followed by an inexorable decline, when oil prices will skyrocket, and petrol and diesel cars will rust by the road-side.
In 1922, a US federal commission predicted that "production of oil cannot long maintain its present rate".
Back in the sixties, Professor Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University said that by the 70s, hundreds of millions would starve. He predicted that "within ten years" all major life in the seas would be gone.
By 1985, mankind would enter an age of scarcity, as resources were depleted. By 1999, the population of the US would drop to 22 million. Oh, and by the way, we'd run out of oil.
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A good rebuttal of all this nonsense comes from Matt Ridley's "The Rational Optimist".
He points out that when resources run short, or become more expensive, we find more. Or we find alternatives. Or we find totally new technologies.
Of course, the amount of fossil fuels in the world is finite. No question. But it is also rather bigger than we imagine.
Currently, the American economy is being transformed by low-cost shale gas.
America's industrial renaissance poses a real threat to European competitiveness, as we agonise over our green credentials and ignore energy prices and security of supply.
In fact, the USA could well be self-sufficient in energy by 2030, and may by then be the world's biggest oil producer, ahead of Saudi Arabia.
Where there's shale gas, there is frequently oil as well. This is a geo-political game-changer. The US may be less enthusiastic about keeping the peace in the Middle East, and defending the straits of Hormuz, when it doesn't need Saudi oil. Europe should take note.
Some estimates in the UK suggest we may have gas reserves for 1,000 years – and there may be oil here as well.
In the eastern Mediterranean, major new oil and gas fields are being discovered. We may see some jockeying between Greece, Italy, Cyprus – and especially between Israel and the Palestinians – but either way, there's a lot more oil and gas about than we realised.
We have fossil fuel availability for the foreseeable future.
There are also 1,200 new coal-fired power stations in the global pipeline. So if you think that continuing carbon dioxide emissions will lead to a calamity for the human race, despair now.
On the other hand, you may prefer to wake up and smell the coffee.