Time to prepare for oil crisis

MEDIA RELEASE - 22/03/2011

The government needs to prepare for sudden, severe and ongoing oil shortages, says the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

“For the last 100 years our world has run on cheap oil. This cheap oil is running out fast, yet most governments are largely ignoring this fact.”

“In addition to a growing shortage of affordable oil, there’s a very high likelihood of severe disruption to the short term supply of oil. Oil prices are likely to suddenly rise as supplies are threatened, then drop again as economic activity slows. However, the overall supply of affordable oil is dropping; therefore oil prices must rise in the longer term.”

“All the signs point to a looming crisis, yet there’s not much sign that the government is actually taking notice.”

“For example, the Libyan crisis recently caused oil prices to rise to their highest point in nearly 30 months. Libya only supplies a tiny amount of the world’s oil, but supplies are tight and growing tighter.”

“Right now, the entire Middle East is a political hotbed. It’s entirely possible that a sudden crisis could severely disrupt oil supplies, plunging the West into crisis.”

“The problem for many countries is that they don’t really have a Plan B: they’ve built their economy around oil-powered cars and trucks as the primary form of transport. The logical thing to do would be to urgently re-gear the economy away from cars and trucks and towards trains and other forms of energy-efficient mass transport. However, this option is politically hard to sell, so governments instead sit on their hands and hope.”

Matthew-Wilson warns against ‘quick fix’ alternative energy solutions.

“We can make many small improvements to the current situation, but nothing can solve the basic fact that the global economy is based around the wastage of cheap oil. There’s currently no feasible cheap substitute for oil, even though lots of people are offering alternative energies as a miracle cure.”

“Most of the world’s alternative energy industry is based on quick fixes to the current system. In reality, most of this new technology either isn’t economic, doesn’t work, or simply doesn’t exist and isn’t going to exist anytime soon.”

“Electric cars are a decade away from being a practical proposition for the average motorist. Hybrid cars are mostly a gimmick. Most biofuels are either unaffordable, impractical, cause environmental damage or rob land that is needed for growing food. Even where biofuels are feasible, they’re simply not available in sufficient quantities to effectively substitute for fossil fuels. Any shortage of oil will inevitably drive up the price of LPG, making it less affordable. A decade or so after the cheap oil runs out, LPG will start to run out as well.”

“There are plenty of alternative ways of generating energy, such as solar panels and wind farms, but they currently can’t produce all that much electricity and this energy costs several times as much as conventional forms of electricity generation. Because the West is addicted to cheap energy, a major leap in energy prices could easily cause a major financial meltdown.”

So what’s Matthew-Wilson’s solution to the global energy crisis?

“There’s no quick fix to the energy crisis. In the longer term, we’re all going to have to use less energy, and that means less urban sprawl, smaller houses, less plastic junk that we don’t really need and less wasted trips in our cars.”

Last year, Matthew-Wilson published an exhaustive critique of electric cars and the alternative energy sector, titled The Emperor’s New Car. This 168-page report was praised by a number of leading scientists and energy experts.