3E Intelligence

Why is it so hard to accept that our planet’s economy has limits? The puerile excitement of so-called energy experts about Brazil’s new “gigantic” oil find is yet another proof that the world and its media remain in denial about our worsening sustainability crisis.

Surprise discovery off coast of Brazil may confound the oil and gas doom-mongers” was the jubilant title of the usually critical Guardian on 16 April pointing to the news that the Brazilian Carioca oil field could help the world to 33 billion barrels of oil. Forget the fact that one day later another expert on this newly discovered megafield brought the expectations back to 600 million barrels, that development of the field will still take at least ten years at very high costs and that we should rid ourselves of fossil fuels as rapidly as possible if we want to prevent climate collapse. A good reality check of the Carioca hype can be found on the Oil Drum.

With all the uncertainty and the misplaced lies about energy reserves (not only oil but also gas, coal and uranium), it is an absolute illusion to want to predict when peak oil will hit. It is also not really that important. Two realities are real enough to make us revise our current economic practices: the fact that fossil fuels (on which we built our whole Western civilisation model) ARE finite and not easily replaceable and that with growing demand from China, India and others, supply problems will only get worse (and therefore prices will remain high and probably go seriously higher unless we have a major global economic downturn).

O, yes, and I nearly forgot: in the same week as this Brazilian oil miracle, we have had stories in the same media about the peak of oil production in Russia (see Wall Street Journal’s Environmental Capital) and the possible decline of Nigerian oil output with 33% (see FT).

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