Will the US government face up to peak oil anytime soon?
“There is no reason for optimism,” said America’s first Secretary of Energy and former CIA director James Schlesinger at the ASPO-USA conference in Washington, DC today. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Based on his experience working for the only president who was honest with the American people about energy, Jimmy Carter, it’s understandable that Schlesinger thinks politicians would fear talking openly about oil depletion and its threat to the economy. Carter, who asked Americans to turn down the thermostat and put on sweaters, called on America to get 25% of its energy from renewables by 2000, and ordered solar panels installed on the White House roof, lost re-election to Ronald Reagan, who then removed the panels and encouraged Americans to let the good times roll.
“The first job of a politician is to get elected. And the second is to get re-elected. Politicians are inclined to provide reassurance on almost any issue that comes up.”
Obama knows about peak oil
Schlesinger thinks that Obama knows about peak oil. And ASPO-USA co-founder Jim Baldauf confirmed that his organization briefed the Obama campaign about the issue in 2008.
“Of course, Secretary [of Energy Steven] Chu understands peak oil, but if he came out to talk about it publicly, Wall Street would collapse,” Schlesinger said.
And don’t expect the White House to lead on the issue anytime soon.
“The political order responds to what the public believes today, not on what it may come to believe tomorrow. Politicians are also hesitant to inflict pain on those who vote.”
So, unless the public starts to understand and care about peak oil and then to demand action, we can expect only evil out of politics, according to Schlesinger. “We are likely to see false solutions and sheer sloganeering, ‘energy independence,’ or ‘get off of foreign oil.'”
If that happens, perhaps our only comfort will be that provided by the full passage from Matthew 6:34:
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.”