Saturday, August 09, 2008

Holiday in UK shows Peak Oil decline is well on its way

Holidaying in Britain, the country of my birth from which I emigrated nearly 30 years ago, thoughts of sustainable planet were giving way to visits to the pub, fish and chips and long walks in the countryside. Not for long. Wherever I look I see Britain is about to enter a period of deep crisis the root of the problem soaring oil prices as production has peaked.

Maybe it’s because I have been writing about the crisis of sustainability for over five years, maybe it’s because I see this country of my birth with other eyes having lived away so long. But I am in a country sliding into the downturn of the industrial age. All the signs are plain to see. So plain, in fact that the newspaper reports over the space of three days are sufficient to chronicle the start of the inevitable slide into irrecoverable erosion of way of life for Brits and others around the planet.

THE TIMES Monday July 19 2008
Farmers ready to cash in on soaring land prices
The gist: Farm land prices have gone from Per hectare price of 6828 pounds per hectare in late 2005 to currently 12,965. farmers are more than willing to sell as they are feeling the squeeze from rising costs of fuel and fertiliser.
Also from the same newspaper:
]Hungry miners reap rich harvest from potash - the latest must have mineral
The gist: Potash, the potassium containing mineral, has risen from under 100 hundred usd in 1993 to nearly 700 USD/ton this year. Potassium is an essential component of fertiliser.

Cheap flights boom runs out of runway
The gist: the age of budget flights is coming to an end.
Developments are about to price more than five million Brits out of the budget holiday market fares going to go up and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Analysts expect some airlines to be pushed into bankruptcy or be bought by larger rivals.

THE TIMES Monday 25th July 2008
Energy Firms 'conspire to raise prices'
The gist: a report claims that minimum of competition has kept prices too high over the last few years, and that the re is in wholesale price of energy will result in millions of Brits unable to pay their energy bill.
Prices of energy paid by industry is above European levels already and is putting thousands of jobs in manufacturing at a risk.
Energy suppliers are signaling further price rises which is fuelling inflation and creating real concerns of the negative impact on the economy starting a vicious downward spiral in the economy.

THE TIMES Wednesday July 30 2008
Mortgage market paralysis will last for at least three years says Crosby.
The gist A report for the government by Sir James Crosby on the mortgage situation highlights how banks are unwilling to give mortgage loans for house purchase, and this is crippling the housing market as well as
The crunch in credit will give rise to defaults on repossessions.
The level of July is 70% lower than the equivalent period in the previous year.
Comment: TV commentators cite the report as evidence that the mortgage system is broken.

Retail sales slide at their worst rate for 25 years.
The gist; Sales during July are at their worst for 25 years. They believe consumers are reining in their spending in the face of seriously squeezed purchasing power.

THE TIMES Thursday July 31 20008 Millions face 100 pound a month fuel bills
The gist: coming hike of 35% on gas and 9% on electricity will put millions more into fuel poverty over 5 million.

THE TIMES Thursday July 31
[Work until you are 70.
The gist: 100 years after the introduction of state pensions, Britain is facing a crisis. With rising prices, longer lifespan and smaller percentage of the population working, the size of pension money is going to shrink, leaving many of the aged living in poverty and retirement age rising to 70.

THE TIMES Wednesday August 6 2008
Double decline in services and industry puts Britain on the brink of recession

The gist: Economists report the economy is grinding to a halt based on official figures showing manufacturing output fell for the fourth quarter in a row, and overall output fell in services for the third month in a row.

Other signs: wherever we go we see ”For Sale” signs outside houses. And my brother in law just came back form meeting an old friend, a building contractor. After 19 years he is forced to close the business down. There is just not the work for him or his employees.

So there it is, the whole drama of the counter-sustainable rut the nation is in, and the impending long emergency they all teeter on, is being played out, in news reports in the press and in front of me. There was even a TV drama ” Burn Up” about Peak Oil.

Unable to fuel the lifestyle that has grown up post-war with cheap energy, and with the money printing machine of home loans broken, the country is staring economic recession in the face.
This is not just a dip in a normal economic cycle, it is the signs that the country is in such serious difficulty that radical changes are called for before it gets worse.

Britain has enjoyed a long period of economic prosperity, partly endowed by the gift of North Sea oil and gas. Even during this period poverty, homelessness and were not addressed. Admittedly the Labour government addressed fairness issues, but if they were unable to succeed as government coffers were filed with tax income who can they be expected to succeed now. Now the situation is getting acute as millions face poverty.
They are now alone. I fear the same events are playing out in my new home, Sweden.
Except in Sweden such stories and drama tend to be downplayed by the media. Watch this space. Inventing for the Sustainable Planet


Clifford J. Wirth said...

According to energy investment banker Matthew Simmons and most independent analysts, global oil production is now declining, from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 14%.

This is equivalent to a 33% drop in 7 years. No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always be higher than production; thus the depletion rate will continue until all recoverable oil is extracted.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from "outside," and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed:

I used to live in NH-USA, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil? Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old USA-NH number 603-668-4207.

Anonymous said...

USA Economist Ron Cooke sees a "perfect storm" unfolding in much the same way as described in the UK. See the article on

John said...

Peak Oil is infinitely more serious than Climate Change, yet nary a peep on the subject by the national media, preferring instead to beat people to death with bogus Global Warming scare stories. This all but proves the seriousness of the Peak Oil prognosis. Given solar activity developments surrounding the progress of cycles 23 and 24, we are more likely as not to see significant global cooling just as fuel availability begins its long decline. The combination of Peak Warming, Peak Oil is the truly serious threat. Yet, no talk, acknowledgement or discussion by those in positions of authority. I guess they don't want to embarrass Al Gore and all their eco-crazy supporters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. shall we let this perfect storm unravel or shall we react? I don't know. After the storm maybe the world will come to its senses.

Dagny said...

Scary forecast. I agree that the US is in for the same rude awakening as the UK.

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