By Roger Diamond

When people refuse to look beyond their own noses, or the jumping stallion on their sports car, they can contradict whatever you say about the state of the world. Why is this a problem? Because the rich and powerful, who sit behind the closed glass doors of a boardroom or the windscreen of their motor car, tend to have loud voices and, because of their position, many poorer people aspire to that state and therefore listen to their false proclamations. “Peak Oil is just a big noise about nothing,” some of the people I meet tell me.

I say: “When peak oil hits, food prices will go up and life will be harder in general.” This is happening right now around the world. Food prices are increasing dramatically and making wholesome eating more difficult for many. The average Woolworths shopper of course does not see this, or if they do, they still don’t care, because their food bill for the year is less than what their architect charged for the design of their new holiday house.

So they dispute my statement based on their personal experience and proclaim: “We have access to ever more foodstuffs from all around the world at a fraction of the cost that it was years ago for our grandparents.” And that may be true, so it is hard to dispute, but it is a myopic vision of the total food picture.

The same goes for other arguments. For those driving Range Rovers, R10 a litre or even R20 a litre of petrol is still meaninglessly cheap in comparison to the millions spent on their fleet of motor vehicles. I try and point out to these decision-makers how “peak oil will make getting around more difficult as roads crack and filling stations go bankrupt”.

But they jokingly reply that then “there will be fewer cars on the freeways, making my journey much easier. Ha ha ha!” And I get accused of being serious, while everyone has a good laugh at their quick-thinking humour. Just like people would have laughed at the possibility that one day animals as large and powerful as elephants may face extinction, or that the vast herds of bison would ever be annihilated.

Why worry about something that will not affect, or if anything, improve their lives? Healthcare costs, travel, housing, employment — none of these things will immediately affect the wealthy, self-employed people who run our debt-based, economic growth dependent society. When trying to give examples of how peak oil will affect the wealthy, it is not possible, until you reach the social unrest or financial collapse situations, to show how peak oil will hurt them as individuals. But even then, the examples from the recent and current financial collapses show how these people have squandered the investments of the middle class and gone begging to government to be refinanced to continue their extravagant lifestyles, funded by the taxes of the future. So the wealthy have robbed the masses twice, including those not yet working or born, as the national debts of many countries now lie in wait for the working and middle class of the future.

My point is that you can’t easily argue with someone who makes the rules, breaks them, and makes new ones, each time to suit themselves. Their world view is one of the victor and that whatever comes along, they will prevail. Until the system changes, our society will do precious little about averting the inevitable pain that will afflict the poorer portion of the population. Something’s gotta give and looking back in history, it may get messy once again. I’d rather it didn’t and that’s why I’m trying to point out these problems. Just maybe we can slip smoothly down the slope of declining energy, rather than fall off the cliff of revolution.


  • POP believes that the problem posed by the imminent peaking of global oil production is something warranting serious attention. The group is made up of a small yet diverse group that brings together theoretical skills on geology, economics and strategy, with practical application of alternative lifestyle choices. POP is dedicated to raising awareness of "peak oil", its likely impacts on South African society and the possible solutions to living in an energy reduced future. The contributors are all members of ASPO-SA


Peak Oil Perspectives

POP believes that the problem posed by the imminent peaking of global oil production is something warranting serious attention. The group is made up of a small yet diverse group that brings together...

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