The Ministry of Economic Development and Peak Oil
Back in the late 1970s while attending the Institute Of Criminology at Victoria University I was fortunate enough to meet the then CEO of the Commission For The Future, Commander Dick Ryan. He had been invited to give a lecture on Future Senarios. I remember thinking it was like listening to a Bible prophecy from someone like Hal Lindsey in his book "The Late Great Planet Earth". There would be a third world war over oil. Dick Ryan said that would escalate into a nuclear war, then there would be a conventional war over the remaining resources. The world was over-populated and we were headed for disaster. It was fantastic and far removed from every day existence here in God's own. All we really knew was a welfare state from the womb tomb and life seemed pretty good.
As I look back it all seems so unreal how so much that was taken for granted was swept away in just a few short years. Twenty six years later Dick Ryan's senario for the future has proved to be uncannily accurate, save for a few details. I think of him often as he seemed so incongruous to me. He was a tall good looking man and articulate enough to hold my attention and impress on my memory. Back in those days I first heard the expression "monolithic fuel based culture".
What I hadn't realized was that successive presidents in USA had been exposed to the same Armageddon script but in a more literal way. It is this influence that has shaped US foreign policy and continues to drive it towards a final hour.
This week a group of Peak Oil representatives met with the men from the Ministry For Economic Development. I had been asked by Robert Atack to join him, Ihaia Puketapu, Derek Wilson and Roz Brown in a round table discussion about peak oil with Ralph D Samuelson and Roger Fairclough. It was a most agreeable meeting between people with a high commitment to reasoned discussion about the serious issue of oil depletion. What transpired in that discussion was that the men from the ministry had been thinking about energy for transport and industry but had some how overlooked the bi products from oil. I talked about the miracle product plastic and how it had given birth to modernity. For the sake of Roger and Ralph ( who comes from the USA) here is a reminder of some of the products that are bi products of oil that is peaking. PeakOil is the technical term of demand outstripping supply.
The following is a list of just some products that may disappear with oil depletion.
Air conditioners, ammonia, anti-histamines, antiseptics, artificial turf, asphalt, aspirin, balloons, bandages, boats, bottles, bras, bubble gum, butane, cameras, candles, car batteries, car bodies, carpet, cassette tapes, caulking, CDs, chewing gum, cold, combs/brushes, computers, contacts, cortisone, crayons, cream, denture adhesives, deodorant, detergents, dice, dishwashing liquid, dresses, dryers, electric blankets, electrician’s tape, fertilisers, fishing lures, fishing rods, floor wax, footballs, glues, glycerin, golf balls, guitar strings, hair, hair colouring, hair curlers, hearing aids, heart valves, heating oil, house paint, ice chests, ink, insect repellent, insulation, jet fuel, life jackets, linoleum, lip balm, lipstick, loudspeakers, medicines, mops, motor oil, motorcycle helmets, movie film, nail polish, oil filters, paddles, paint brushes, paints, parachutes, paraffin, pens, perfumes, petroleum jelly, plastic chairs, plastic cups, plastic forks, plastic wrap, plastics, plywood adhesives, refrigerators, roller-skate wheels, roofing paper, rubber bands, rubber boots, rubber cement, rubbish bags, running shoes, saccharine, seals, shirts (non-cotton), shoe polish, shoes, shower curtains, solvents, solvents, spectacles, stereos, sweaters, table tennis balls, tape recorders, telephones, tennis rackets, thermos, tights, toilet seats, toners, toothpaste, transparencies, transparent tape, TV cabinets, typewriter/computer ribbons, tyres, umbrellas, upholstery, vaporisers, vitamin capsules, volleyballs, water pipes, water skis, wax, wax paper.
By now you might be beginning to get some idea that things are serious with our dependency on oil. It's half used up according to one major oil company. Can you trust them?