Next week's meeting of the world's most powerful nations, the annual G-8 conference, will take place in St. Petersburgh, Russia. The theme of the meeting will be "energy security." Last year's meeting, at Gleneagles, as you recall, was all about debt relief and helping poor nations. (You remember how well that worked, and how the G-8 subsequently ended poverty in Africa, right?) In any case this year the big eight are looking out for themselves.
After all, as oil keeps hitting historic high after historic high, and no sign that it will come down soon, everybody's a little worried. The U.S. military is already preparing for "oil nationalism."
So I was looking forward to some insightful and sobering talk from The Financial Times when I saw that they were planning a series of articles on energy security. I admit, being the liberal-arts-major humanitarian softy that I am, sometimes I get great pleasure out of seeing my views echoed by "grown-ups" over at The Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal. Surely, I think, these masters of the universe know what the game is.
The series has been disappointing so far, though. It started Tuesday with the startling analysis that people are worried about global fuel disruptions—and then dismisses the analysis of Colin Cambell, the head of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.
"Globally, discoveries peaked in 1964," he says. "We are not replacing what we use, and that has been the case since the early 1980s."
FT refuses to make the argument that moving off of oil would be the logical conclusion. Instead, it uses the language of the industry:
That should be the conclusion of the St Petersburg summit: both sides need a huge investment programme to tap new energy resources more efficiently.
In other words, find new places to drill and build more refineries.
The second piece, running yesterday, was a perfunctory analysis of the fragiliy of energy networks and their vulnerability to political instability.
However, the story becomes a little more interesting in today's installment, which looks at the hollowness of Bush's "energy independence" talk.
But like several other initiatives since the January speech, the tightening of the so-called Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in March was more smoke than fire. The slight increase in the average fuel economy required for popular sport utility vehicles and light trucks—to 24 miles per gallon beginning in 2011, up from 21.6 mpg—was largely offset by the continuation of loopholes aimed at keeping Detroit carmakers happy.
The pattern is one that has repeated itself even as rising petrol prices and the possibility of confrontation with Iran have pushed energy security to the top of the administration’s agenda.
The White House has promised aggressive initiatives in alternative fuels, more efficient technologies and fresh exploration for conventional energy. But it has shied away from any measures that might significantly reduce energy consumption in the short term.
Still, it is distressing to see that The Financial Times, which generally has a well-earned reputation for seeing through the conventional wisdom and facing the hard truths, won't explore the alternatives to a growing energy crisis.
Like perhaps a more radical push towards meaningful energy independence?
| Thursday, July 6, 2006 12:45 PM