Posted by: Dr Churchill | November 11, 2013

We are running out of Energy ?

We are running out of Energy ?

This is the question many of the Fossil Fuel industrial lobbyists would have you ponder…

And then they assure you that all will be well if we allow the fracking oil and gas boom to continue unfettered by pollution and toxic water concern. They say this Fracking of everything is what we need. Period. We need it everywhere. Even in the Arctic, and the Albertan tar Sands, and even in your own neighborhood, and scenic places such as off the coast of Northern California — smack dub in front of San Francisco.

And they do a Good Job of convincing politicians and citizenry alike to accept being fully fracked. And they succeed for good reason, because they are paid to spread fear, uncertainty, insecurity, and doubt.

But I stand aside alone, and thoroughly unconvinced.

I stand tall and fight back against this torrent of bullshit, stating clearly that our energy needs can be met entirely through the sun, the wind, the water (hydroelectric, tidal, wave), the geothermal and solar power in tandem, while at the same time we can be engaged in building a new era of Economic prosperity, Human Renaissance, Climate Adaptability, and Science based Environmental safety.

Fossil Fuel oil & gas, whether from shale or other sources is not needed. Fracking and polluting our ground water is not needed. Same goes for fracking old oil wells and seeking new ones around the globe.

We simply don’t need it.

Society and the Global Commons is moving towards a transition away from fossil fuels to a clean future. Albeit not fast enough…

We are however slowly moving towards a future place, in which electric power is provided by the power of the sun, the wind, and the waves. A future place where each home and commercial building is heated and cooled via clean renewable resources. A place where this simple Transition  for heating water and space is accomplished through 21st century high efficiency heat pumps and all other city wide steam systems that are powered from Geothermal energy.

This is not Science Fiction but simple science and state of the art production equipment for these energies is available today to meet the needs of citizens and of cities large and small. And we know this because through the Environmental Parliament there is just such a blueprint for making this possible for the whole world, by the year 2030.

To me, this is clearly the best way forward. So while I welcome the new data bellow showing us how the oil and gas industry is heading towards an inevitable Bubble Burst — I firmly believe society should invest NOW its future in the clean technologies of wind and solar production, and in using energy more efficiently, even if it’s just in order to avert the Economic Collapse that this giant bubble will surely inflict upon all nations of this Earth.

And it’s for our own long term good and not just to avoid the Blood & Mayhem that would follow the coming Oil & Gas collapse since energy imbalance wars are inevitable then, but because I firmly believe that this is the High Road to a Human Renaissance. A new Era of Human Enlightenment, will be upon us — if we make the right decisions in the wake of the IPCC’s latest warnings about the coming and the already present Climate Catastrophes.

And am not worried so much about the coming Climate Chaos but about what’s happening today in the SE Asia with more devastating typhoons than ever before. We see the ten and maybe hundreds of thousands of dead and dying in the Philippines and we come to realize that we need to heal our climate quickly — even if it is to simply help ourselves avoid massive suffering — and thus usher a new Era of Enlightenment and Economic Prosperity.

Think of this, because severe storms have cost insurance companies more than $40 billion over the past six years. And while governments fail to agree about the threat of global warming, falling equity prices, and falling valuations, are forcing insurers to find out for them right now the hard way. Climate Risk is prevalent amongst Reinsurers and Lenders of Last Resort alike.

The superhurricane Haiyan reached peak wind speed of 396 km/h with the sustained winds remaining at 320 km/h. The wind speed of nearly 400 km/h is about half the speed a commercial airliner ploughs through the air. So far over 10,000 deaths have been reported but it is feared to be as high as above 100,000 dead that will bring this to an all time high… And  as the wind travelled in this storm system as fast as in many tornadoes — people could find no refuge, because the reach of the storm’s eye is far greater.

And we should remember that much like Superhurricane Sandy, these Climate Change caused Storms will be increasingly common due to buildup of carbon dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants that excessively trap sun’s energy inside the greenhouse atmosphere and then raise temperatures which in turn create the ripe opportunities for storms to become frequent, ferocious, and hugely damaging.

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 13.09.45

And remember because of this, we have to now go out of our way now and limit CO2 emissions by nurturing all clean energy industries, production methods, tactics and strategies, and by accelerating their adoption, as though we were mobilising for a coming war. It is a global war footing that might sort this out and nothing less — lest we find our boat out of the water completely…

And make no mistake — we can do this. Take as an example the emerging renewable energy experience in Germany and elsewhere, that gives increasing credibility to the view that modern economies can be powered from a mix of renewables and sustainable Energy Resources without nuclear or other fossil fuel energy into the mix.

Remember that war is coming and is largely inevitable. Yet we know that wars can be won too. Remember also that my parents’ generation amazed themselves at how fast the Western World could manufacture and mobilise airplanes & armies, bullets and gauze, tanks & shells, fighters & bombers, and naval warships, to fight a riotously bloody and seemingly endless war. And we won that global war fully, within a five year term.

And yet today we think it’s impossible to wean ourselves from our Fossil Fuel addiction in 17 years? And it’s tough for us to change? Even if it is for our own good?

I say that if we were to simply repeat that level of war-time manufacturing and deployment application of Clean Energies, we could avert much of the horrors that the IPCC warns of and that we see today taking place in the Philippine islands. And we could avoid the coming Energy imbalance Wars that are sure to come soonest when the Oil & Gas Bubble bursts in our face.

Yet we don’t seem to want to wake up and smell the coffee.

Because so far we have found ways to collectively bury our heads deep in the sand like ostriches in the face of dire scientific warnings and unassailable economic data.

The writing persists on the wall. And our collective unconscious is telling us to act. If we fail to heed the report and all its implications, the next great crisis of capitalism will force us to act. The coming Oil and Gas fossil fuel crash won’t be possible to be ignored, when lights go out, when there is no heat, and when the fossil fuel tankers fail to arrive at the port of call…

It is important to remember this because when the Lehman Brothers — one of the most interconnected financial firms of Wall Street, collapsed six years ago, the world fell in a financial crisis that is still reverberating around the globe today.

Why can we not learn from this and be ready for the next bubble to burst: The Oil Bubble.

Maybe because of weaknesses in human psychology ? Maybe because we have a collective tendency to be blind to the kind of risks that can crash economies and imperil civilisations ? Or simply because we are beholden to the siren song of the Oil & Gas industry ? Or is it the Fossil Fuel Lobby buying up all available Politicians ?

Whatever the reason…. Today, our blindness to the risks — present and future — is threatening an even bigger crisis than the systemic Financial Institutions crisis, the Lehmans and other Banks started and the Sovereign Debt that was unleashed that crippled nations around the globe.

In my book Energy Prophet, I argue that the energy industry’s leaders are guilty of a risk blindness that, unless action is taken, will lead to a global crash – and not just because of the climate change they fuel…  Solar power is the way of supplying the world with abundantly cheap electricity whether the big oil companies like it or not. The Sun i sour big nuclear fusion plant in the sky at a safe enough distance to allow us to harvest it’s Free Life giving production of Clean Energy for the whole planet, for ever…

We need to look to the sun now because our present navel gazing and our digging deeper hole into the sand to bury our head in, is rather dangerous for our Economic well being and for our very own survival. Mind You, extinction events are not immune to the human species…

Looking at the coming economic and Futures data for long term Oil & Gas bridge Contracts, and for warrants for the equities of the seven Big oil companies around the world, I became worried about the present oil & Gas Bubble that is an Economic Bubble of magnificent and terrifying proportions. Coupled with society’s overdependence on fossil fuels — I had to act on my concerns and deliver the Guide to Sustainable Energy Future and the Human Renaissance.

As the Green Banker par excellence, I have watched captains of the energy and financial industries at work – frequently close to, often behind closed doors – as the financial crisis has played out and the oil price continued its inexorable rise. I have concluded that too many people across the top levels of business and government have found ways to close their eyes and ears to systemic risk-taking. Denial, I believe, has become institutionalised.

As a result of their complacency we face four great risks. The first and biggest is no surprise: climate change. We have way more unburned conventional fossil fuel than is needed to wreck the climate. Yet much of the energy industry is discovering and developing unconventional deposits – shale gas and tar sands, for example – to pile onto the fire, while simultaneously abandoning solar power just as it begins to look promising. It has been vaguely terrifying to watch how CEOs of the big energy companies square that circle.

Second, we risk creating a carbon bubble in the capital markets. If policymakers are to achieve their goal of limiting global warming to 2 °C, 60 to 80 per cent of proved reserves of fossil fuels will have to remain in the ground unburned. If so, the value of oil and gas companies would crash, many economies will go without the much needed Energy, and in turn collapse and a lot of people would lose far more than money and maybe their very own lives.

Encouragingly, through the Divestiture Campaign of the Environmental Parliament, some financial institutions have begun withdrawing investment in fossil fuels after reading our warnings. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should spread appreciation of how crazy it is to have energy markets that are allowed to account for assets as though climate policymaking doesn’t exist.

Third, we risk being surprised by the boom in shale gas production. That, too, may prove to be a bubble, maybe even a Ponzi scheme. Production from individual shale wells declines rapidly, and large amounts of capital have to be borrowed to drill replacements. This will surprise many people who make judgement calls based on the received wisdom that limits to shale drilling are few.

I am not alone in these concerns.

Even if the US shale gas drilling isn’t a bubble, it remains unprofitable overall and environmental downsides are emerging seemingly by the week. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, whole towns in Texas are now running out of water, having sold their aquifers for fracking. I doubt that this is a boom that is going to appeal to the rest of the world; many others agree.

Fourth, we court disaster with assumptions about oil depletion. Most of us believe the industry mantra that there will be adequate flows of just-about-affordable oil for decades to come. I am in a minority who don’t believe this and who KNOW that the Peak Oil timeline mark has been crossed back in 2003-2005 oil exploration season. Crude oil production peaked in 2005, and oil fields are depleting at more than 6 per cent per year, according to the International Energy Agency. The much-hyped 2 million barrels a day of new US production capacity from shale needs to be put in context: we live in a world that consumes 90 million barrels a day.

And for those of you — eager beavers — the Arctic Oil will not come into seriously large production for another 15 – 30 years from now.

So let us be aware of the Risks and get this Oil Bubble thing into perspective — if only so we can deflate the beast before it blows up all over our face.




It is because of the sheer prevalence of risk blindness, overlain with the pervasiveness of oil dependency in modern economies, that I conclude system collapse is probably inevitable within a few years.

Mine is a minority position, but it would be wise to remember how few whistleblowers there were in the run-up to the financial crash, and how they were vilified in the same way the Oil  Peak believers are today.

Have we learned nothing from the Black Swans swimming all around us — floating graciously while pedaling and pumping furiously underneath the water ?

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