When my friends with green groups dismiss peak oil as a propaganda campaign run by the oil industry to scare the public into chanting “drill, baby drill,” I smile.
Hey, I care about peak oil but I’m also an environmentalist from way back, I protest. The Sierra Club card — I won’t leave home without it. Climate change scares the crap out of me. Bill McKibben and Jim Hansen are my heroes.
And most of my peak oiler friends feel the same way. They fear that greenhouse gases could fry the climate as much as they worry that running out of cheap oil will crash the economy. They think peak oilers and climate activists should become allies to get the world off of fossil fuels.
Indeed, depletion-savvy folks I know think that the issue of peak oil could be just what’s needed to get the climate movement out of its current rut. Many of us agree with Transition movement co-founder Rob Hopkins when he says that “Climate change tells us we should change. Peak oil tells us we must change.”
But just when it seems like my green friends are starting to get over their fears that peak oil is an industry plot, along come paid stooges from oil companies to screw things up and make peak oil look pretty much like…an industry plot.
Let us drill or else
“Do they lie,” asks a middle-aged man in a suit with a vaguely Middle Eastern accent about everyone from Presidents Obama and Bush to green activists who have called for America to kick its addiction to oil. “Or do they believe in their own wishful thinking? Either way, it’s not very pretty.”
And he’s just one of the industry hacks you’d see if you were going to waste your time watching spOILed: The Movie, released this summer by New Mexico-based filmmaker Mark Mathis. Here’s another paid shill from the film:
If use of energy is an addiction, then is it any surprise that we have the foolish policies that we do or that many Americans come to not trust the energy industry…We can’t drill off of the East Coast. We can’t drill off of the West Coast. We can’t drill off of the West Coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Why is that?
Shamefully, Mathis, who founded an astroturf group funded by the oil industry called The Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE), uses footage from the late, great Matt Simmons in his schlocky film. Too bad that Simmons, formerly a pillar of the peak oil community and a regular fixture at Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas USA events whom we interviewed just before his untimely death last August, is no longer around to defend himself.
Incidentally, as Jim Motavalli points out, Mathis’s false-flag group is headed by “nationally known Christian speaker” Marita Noon, who proclaims, “Let’s get real! Let’s look at the energy reality. Do you prefer the necessities of life? Do you like your car, your microwave, your health and your house? … don’t let the environmental groups take away energy.”
Send in the clowns
Even more shameful is that another prominent peak oil Cassandra, Robert Hirsch, also appears in Mathis’s film. Like Simmons, Hirsch is widely admired in peak oil circles for sounding some of the earliest alarms on the dangers of crude depletion. Hirsch is scheduled to speak at the upcoming ASPO-USA “Truth in Energy” conference scheduled for this November 2-5 in Washington, DC.
Unlike Simmons, as of this writing, the author of the 2005 study for Department of Energy — “The Hirsch Report” saying that the US would require at least 20 years to fully prepare for peak oil — is very much alive. And Hirsch is lukewarm at best about climate science. His latest book spilled ample ink respectfully summarizing the viewpoint of deniers, which may help explain the appearance of such a serious expert in such a silly film right next to Washington liars and professional buffoons like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).
The film’s warning is the usual industry threat: “If you think living with oil is bad…try living without it.”
Peak oilers already know that energy depletion is scary. But our solution is very different from that of Mark Mathis, ExxonMobil or the American Petroleum Institute.
If cheap oil is running out, we shouldn’t try to keep the party going a few years longer by drilling every last dangerous, dirty and expensive possible source of crude. Instead, we should start getting the world economy off of oil now, before it’s too late to cushion the shock, at least partly.
But oil companies, who’ve got billions of dollars sunk into offshore platforms and other expensive drilling infrastructure, don’t want the crude oil party to stop just yet. To help their quarterly earnings, companies want to keep all those rigs pumping as long as they can.
Watch the trailer. Then reassure all your green friends that this film is merely industry propaganda and shouldn’t discredit all the accurate and helpful thinking about peak oil done in the last few years.
— Erik Curren, Transition Voice