Angostura Offshore Gas Platform
Offshore natural gas collection and processing platform near Aruba in the eastern Caribbean. Julian Darley is the author of 'High Noon for Natural Gas,' published in 2005, which is the first popular work of its kind to examine the issues of peak natural gas production. Photo courtesy of BHP Billiton

Peak Oil: No Laughing Matter

November 2005 presentation to ASPO USA by High Noon for Natural Gas author, Julian Darley

By EV World

With disarming British humor and in an accent clearly reminiscent of comedian John Cleese, author and founder of Global Public Media, Julian Darley said that if the audience didn't like what he was about to say, they should feel free to dismiss it since he's from the "land of Monte Python," referring to the campy but popular British comedy series.

When he'd finished his 10-minute presentation to the first meeting of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO USA) in Denver, Colorado, the audience, made up largely of energy industry professionals, government policy makers and the media, reacted quite unexpectedly.

Clearly he had under-estimated the impact his candor about the seriousness of climate change and the approaching decline in global oil and gas production, which he highlighted in his 2005 book, "High Noon for Natural Gas," would have on this hard-bitten group of professionals.

After his Monte Python self-effacement, Darley, who lives in Vancouver, Canada, stated bluntly, " I think I am afraid we are using peak energy to destroy the planet. I don't see any way of avoiding that fact. We're using it to destroy the planet. That means that if that is the right conclusion, that big energy is the problem; and to, therefore, madly run around finding every possible substitute to peak energy is a mistake."

Speaking on the last afternoon of the last day of the two-day conference, he reminded everyone that very little has been said about climate change.

"I have difficulty with some of my climate change colleagues to persuade them of the reality of peak oil. I keep trying and I'll go on trying because I think peak oil is absolutely real, but so also is climate change. Not only is it real, but rather like peak oil it looks like it's coming along with some pretty devastating effects much sooner than even the worst predictions. It's coming sooner and it's worse, very like peak oil…"

"Let it also be noted that most of the climate change problems we've got come from the burning of fossil fuels: coal, oil and also natural gas."

Darley talked about the role of growth in terms of population and economic activity in fueling these crises and suggests that until population growth is halted and reversed, our problems won't be solved.

"If sustainable growth is not possible, and several speakers [here] have alluded to this and I think peak oil is going to ram this home, then how can sustainable development be possible? I realize this is very contentious, but I believe that the idea of "sustainable development" was brought in by [Diana] Bronson and others in 1987 to head off at the pass the idea of Limits to Growth, which was first published in 1972 by the Club of Rome. They were suggesting this idea, limits to growth, and indeed, we must start to contract. And that the idea of sustainable development, nice though it may sound, may well have gruesomely misled us.

"And so 'sustainability,' which is just a code word for sustainable development may be misleading us. If that is the case, we've got some different and serious thinking to do, because we may largely be going down the wrong path.

"I apologize if this is unpalatably, but I feel that I've got to say it."

The standing ovation that he received in the end, clearly indicated that no offense was taken, at least among the majority of those attending the conference.

To listen to all of Julian Darley's presentation, use the Flash-based MP3 player below the photo above or download it to your computer hard drive for playback on your favorite MP3 player. .

EV World expresses its thanks to ASPO USA, Steve Andrews and Randy Udall for granting us permission to attend and record this historic event. The next conference will be held in Boston, Massachusetts in 2006.

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Published: 19-Jan-2006


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