As the owner of a major airline, Virgin’s Richard Branson must think about the prospect of peak oil more than most of us. Apparently he’s a believer, as reported in the Christian Science Monitor:
Long-accustomed to being dismissed as alarmists, the arguments of those warning of an impending peak oil crisis are now being bolstered by support from multi-billionaires like Richard Branson.
A major report funded by the Virgin Airlines owner and other British business leaders warned this week that the world is running out of oil and predicts shortages and price spikes as soon as 2015. A future of painful hikes in the cost of food, heating, and travel in a world unprepared for surging oil prices was forecast by the Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security.
“Don’t let the oil crunch catch us out in the way that the credit crunch did,” wrote Mr. Branson and other business executives in a forward to the report.
But it’s not just the powerful backing from Branson and company that is suddenly giving heart to those warning of peak oil. They also point to signs that even the British government is opening itself up to the possibility of an oil drought.
“Some people see peak oil (as an) imminent and high probability threat, others say that demand will peak first,” Chris Barton, the British government official responsible for planning the country’s energy security, said Wednesday at an event to mark the release of the report. “So who is right? Well, we don’t know who is right, but we do recognize that the risk of rising and volatile oil prices is real.”
In the highly polarized debate over peak oil, researchers blame the poor quality of data available to them and a lack of transparency from oil producers and corporate interests as the main reasons for why the picture remains clouded.
“It gets worse for where it really matters, such as the big Middle Eastern producers and the OPEC countries,” says Steve Sorrell, the chief author of a separate report last year by Britain’s biggest research center on sustainable energy systems, which claimed conventional oil production is likely to peak before 2030, with a significant risk of a peak before 2020. “It’s also certainly the case that those industry bodies that do have the data may deem it not to be in their interests to be fully transparent.”
A real threat?
So is ‘Big Oil’ really keeping some nasty truths from the public?…
[continues in the Christian Science Monitor]