Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Robert Mann: Euphoric Cornucopianism Mischievous

Euphoric Cornucopianism is Mischievous


By Robert Mann

Owen McShane tries (Owen McShane: If Stone Age had run out of rocks... - 'NZ' Herald 15 April) to pour oil on the troubled waters of energy policy, especially wishing to soothe fears of the oil peak - the imminent maximum supply rate after which oil production will decline.

Mr McShane avers "for the past few decades the world has enjoyed incredibly cheap oil". True, bulk easily-extracted oil from the middle east and Indonesia keeps the average price down to a mere U$55 per barrel - so far; but averaged in are the 164 killed on the Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea. The margins of oil exploitation have been for decades now dangerous and, from time to time, severely polluting.

McShane says New Zealand sits in the middle of an "ocean" of natural gas, including "frozen methane" offshore. It is wrong to promote offshore exploration, with its dangers of marine blowouts, while ignoring the deep gas theory of Professor Gold, which predicts literally astronomical lodes of natural gas onshore in Taranaki - but very deep (8-10 km).

McShane's "bunch of new technologies ... which delivers petrol at about $2.50 a litre" does not exist, and the concepts he mentions are mostly science fiction, especially his notions of GM-trees and GM garden plants exuding hi-octane fuel from their roots. On this basis he says household income may increase 20-fold this century while oil supply decreases only enough to double the price of petrol.

Compressed natural gas (CNG, for those who don't remember the brief limited encouragement of this indigenous vehicle fuel) should for several strong reasons be re-instated and extended. The NZ CNG equipment industry is still turning over $6m/y - all for export. The technical infrastructure for safe installations has largely lapsed but can be revived in polytechs.

But the basic fact must be faced, the sooner the better: decreasing consumption is in many ways better than trying to deplete resource more rapidly. We must recover skills of consuming less while enjoying it more. Decreasing waste has been clearly identified for many years as the first step. Diverting to use resources now going down a great variety of waste channels is the fastest, cheapest way to decrease consumption of resources. Professor D J Rose, MIT nuclear engineer, finished his review 'Nuclear Eclectic Power' in Science 3 decades ago remarking that, to date, increasing amounts of energy had been used mainly to turn resources into junk. "What are we going to do now?" he finally asked. So far, the governmental and corporate answers have been almost entirely pathetic.

What is needed if we are to face up to the oil peak is not euphoric cornucopianism but technologically informed planning such as the Government abandoned in the 1980s. Oil supplies are liable to be interrupted &/or made much more expensive by market forces; there is no time to lose in making alternative arrangements for transport fuels.

*************

- Robt Mann consultant ecologist P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news