Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The scoffers are silent now

Well, well, what a surprise! UBS economist Robin Clements says the era of cheap fuel is over - for good.

I can't help remembering the oil shock of 1973. At the time, I had been in New Zealand for about a year, and was writing articles in which I was warning of the resource shortages of the future.

I had left Japan, where I had spent 10 years, with a conviction our way of life was unsustainable, and had assumed New Zealanders would be receptive to a call for a rethink of the practices of our industrial civilization. How wrong I was!

In an editorial in my newspaper, the Manawatu Standard, I was told that the oil crisis had given a "spurious authenticity" to my warnings, and that there was nothing to seriously worry about. Indeed, there was likely to be an oil glut in the 1980s.

The Economist said much the same thing - that, since World War II, every shortage had been followed by a surplus.

Well, the wasteful 1980s have come and gone, as have the wasteful 1990s. And now we find ourselves in the late 2000s. And guess what? The party's over!

No editorial writer is today ridiculing "eco-freaks", "eco-nuts" or "Jeremiahs", and saying that, even if resources are being depleted, technology will soon come up with alternatives. Everyone with more than half a brain knows that we have a crisis on our hands - and that the switch to biofuels is a move that creates more problems than it solves.

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