Jason Schenker, an economist who tracks the energy sector for Wachovia Securities states "We've been in an upward trend for several years, and I REALLY DON'T SEE ANY INDICATION OF A REVERSAL OF THAT TREND" (my emphasis; 1). Opec is producing very near capacity; president Purnomo Yusgiantoro said this week that "there is no more supply" (2). The BBC helpfully listed seven causes of the record-high oil prices – copiously overlooking scarce supply (3).
So how soon will oil production peak? Predictions for peak production range from 2000 – 2037. The figure of 2037 however comes from the US Department of Energy who admit basing their estimate of supply *on* projected demand (4). In all probability, production has already peaked, which means it will become cripplingly expensive within the next 30 years, if not a decade. Food prices and unemployment will rocket (4). The neoliberals may finally get their Hobbsean war of ‘all against all’ that prompted Margret Thatcher to declare society non-existent.
The problem is, oil depletion seems the only way short of global revolution that we can avert climate change. So as George Monbiot puts it:
“We seem, in other words, to be in trouble. Either we lay hands on every available source of fossil fuel, in which case we fry the planet and civilisation collapses, or we run out, and civilisation collapses” (4)
This is the context in which we have to see the forthcoming Civil Contingencies Bill, which legislates for the banning of all protest and the suspension of parliament in any ‘state of emergency’. This is the context in which we have to see the Antisocial Behaviour Act, banning public assembly full stop on the whims of police officers and the new legislation purportedly to tackle animal liberation militants which bans all protest in residential areas. This is the context in which we have to see the plans for compulsory national biometric ID cards and a population database. The government is legislating for the fascist powers it will need to survive the social backlash when people realise they have led us down a dead end.
The question is, what are we going to do about it? When the Argentinean economy collapsed due to the policies of the IMF and World Bank and corrupt government, the people were able to rise, defying a ban on demonstrations to march in their millions shouting ‘que se vayan todos! (all of them [politicians] out!). Government after government fell, and the revolution has established an embryonic free society within the still breathing shell of the state. If we can achieve anything similar in our nuclear-armed state when affordable oil runs out we may just avert the openly fascistic system the government is legislating ‘for our own good’.