As Nelder notes of the IEA:
On Monday this week, they had what I would consider a "come-to-Jesus moment," walking before the whole world to the front of the tent, admitting their unworthiness and publicly confessing their sins.So does reducing our dependence on oil still require slow gradual steps to prevent 'wrecking the economy' now? Or will taking slow, gradual steps now just ensure that the economy falls to pieces in a couple of years under the weight of a severe oil shock - because we didn't act fast enough to reduce U.S. oil demand in time to get ourselves ready for the arrival of the Peak Oil train? Given the findings of this report, these are crucial questions that our leaders need to answer now.
The confession was in their bombshell "Medium Term Oil Market Report," which looks at the global oil market over the next five years. And it was stark:
Despite four years of high oil prices, this report sees increasing market tightness beyond 2010 . . . It is possible that the supply crunch could be deferred--but not by much.
That was enough to set blogs and presses and email systems afire the world over. I was deluged with emails and phone calls about it. So I checked it out.
It's a decent piece of work, 82 pages with lots of good charts and data. It was also a welcome break from the delusional projections that the IEA has made for its entire 30-year existence, consistently predicting that supply will magically meet whatever the demand was projected to be.
Because for the first time, the IEA admitted that they have some doubts about oil supply keeping up with demand.
The Climate Change Parallel
At the same time as headlines about the IEA's announcement of imminent oil decline graced the headlines earlier this week, headlines continued to pour in about the catastrophic impacts of climate change that are either happening now or are well on the way. For example just this week alone:
- Global Warming May Spawn Floods of Beaches and Cities Bloomberg, 7/12
- Report Warns of a Much Warmer Northeast Washington Post, 7/12
- China Environment Chief Says Pollution Fueling Unrest ENN, 7/11
- African Farmers Urged to Change Ways Because Weather Is Changing ENN 7/11
The last few months have seen articles whose dire warnings are echoing louder and louder:
- Global Warming Will Increase World Death Rate NewScientistEnviroment, 7/2
- Top Scientists Warn: Climate Change Places Humanity in Imminent Peril The Independent, 6/20
- Dead Lands Walking - Global Warming Threatening Popular Travel Destinations Treehugger, 6/18
- A Climate Culprit in Darfur Washington Post, 6/18
- In Antarctica, Proof That Action on Warming Is More Urgent Than Ever National Geographic News, 6/8
- Will Climate Change Cause War? New Scientist, 6/1
- NASA: Danger Point Closer Than Thought From Warming ABC News, 5/31
- Victim of Climate Change, A Town Seeks a Lifeline NY Times, 5/30
- China Warns of More Typhoons, Floods, Drought Due to Climate Change Reuters, 5/11
- Global Warming May Be Spurring Allergy, Asthma Wall Street Journal, 5/4
- Arctic Ice Retreating 30 Years Ahead of Projections ENS, 5/1
- Higher Temperatures SLOW Tropical Tree Growth, Mongabay.com, 4/27
- Terror in the Weather Forecast NY Times, 4/25
- Scientists Offer Frightening Forecast LiveScience, 4/24
- For Millions in Australia, Water Will Stop Mid-Year Sydney Morning Herald, 4/20
- US Generals Urge Climate Action BBC, 4/16
- Climate Report Predicts Heat Waves, Floods, Species' End in Europe The Boston Globe, 4/16
- Warming Could Spark North American Water Conflicts, UN Warns ENN, 4/13
- Allergen-Producing Plants Thrive With Climate Change Vancouver Sun, 4/11
- International Climate Report Reveals World Vulnerabilities Living on Earth, 4/10
- Last Word On Climate Is Ours, Scientists Say Seattle Times, 4/9
- Acidic Oceans Threatening Sea Life, UN Panel Says ENN, 4/9
- Bipartisan Bill Calls for Intelligence Assessment of Climate Impacts Grist, 4/6
- Reports From Four Fronts in the War on Warming N.Y. Times, 4/5
- Climate Change May Cause Health Woes Worldwide, UN Panel Says Vancouver Sun, 4/3
- Global Warming Will Make Climates 'Disappear' The Australian, 4/2
- Hundreds of Millions at Risk From Rising Sea Levels Mongabay.com, 3/28
- Global Warming May Be Bad for Asthma Sufferers ENN, 3/27
- Farmers Count Cost of Climate Change: $5 Billion in Lost Crops Edie, 3/23
- Earth May Be Near Global Warming Tipping Point Mongabay.com, 3/16
- Global Warming Reduced Crop Yields Over Past 20 Years Mongabay.com, 3/16
- New UN Report: Climate Change is Affecting World's Poor Christian Science Monitor, 3/15
- Scientists Say Sea Level Rise Could Accelerate Reuters, 3/14
- It's Expensive to Ignore Global Warming SeattlePi, 3/13
- Climate Report Warns of Drought, Disease ENN, 3/13
- Global Warming Changing the Sports World Sports Illustrated, 3/9
- Climate is Big Issue for U.S. Hunters, Anglers ENN, 3/8
- Island People Swallowed By The Sea BBC, 3/5
- Global Warming is Causing Stronger Atlantic Hurricanes, Finds New Study Mongabay.com, 3/2
- Arctic Inuit Argue U.S. Pollution Devastates Centuries-Old Hunting Traditions ENN, 3/1
- Parts of Florida Could Be Under Water from 'Warming' Pensacola News Journal, 2/28
- Global Warming Spurs Disease Outbreaks Science Daily, 2/27
- Heating Planet 'Makes Children Sick' Herald Sun, 2/23
- Leading Organization of Scientists Warns of Global Warming 'Threat' Washington Post, 2/20
- Mountain Glaciers Melting Faster Than Ever, Threatening Supplies of Agricultural, Drinking Water National Geographic News, 2/20
- Climate Change Puts Ski Resorts on Slippery Slope The Guardian, 2/14
- Global Warming Threatens Double Trouble for Peru: Shrinking Glaciers and a Water Shortage Associated Press, 2/12
- Global Warming Poses Health Threats Washington Post, 2/6
- Gorilla of Sea Level Rise Living on Earth, 2/6
- A Disaster Epic (in Slo-Mo) NY Times, 2/5
- Climate change: Time To Get Serious BBC, 2/5
- World's Scientists Say Climate Change is Much Worse Than They Thought Belfast Telegraph, 1/30
- Indonesia May Lose 2,000 Islands to Climate Change ENN, 1/30
Wow. Nothing short of overwhelming!
All this as our policymakers propose renewable energy legislation that is meek compared to that of Germany, Japan, and California. And while they are forced to slug it out with Detroit over making moderate (and vastly inadequate) changes to fuel economy by some year over a decade from now. How will history judge their lack of action?
The Good News: Two Birds With One Stone
The good news, of course, is that both of the frightening problems described above - Peak Oil and climate change - are really opposite sides of the same coin. The same high levels of carbon emissions that are causing and accelerating climate change are also a result of a 'modern' lifestyle in which humans are slurping up our oil supplies at absurdly unsustainable levels, putting our environment, economy, and quality of life in great danger of collapse.
Thus, taking "Apollo Project" type actions to both reduce our demand for oil (and other fossil fuels) can help solve both problems - the old kill two birds with one stone!
That would mean less risk to our economy and quality of life posed by both oil shocks and climate change, less pollution-causing cancer and asthma in ourselves and our children, less need to spend taxpayers' $billions fighting energy wars in distant lands where the natives hate us (and thus greater ability to cut taxes), and more money in all of our pockets as more efficient technologies require people to purchase less fuel and electricity to operate them. In other words, the solutions to Peak Oil and Climate Change will help sustain our environment, economy, and quality of life alike!
This is a big reason why people talk about sustainability and the benefits of going green. It just makes so much sense to both people and planet! But will these solutions come to pass in time to avoid having to implement them out of some dire necessity?
Only time will tell. The clock is ticking, and it's getting late in the game...