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15 octobre 2009 4 15 /10 /octobre /2009 14:33
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15 octobre 2009 4 15 /10 /octobre /2009 07:19

Colin Campbell geologist

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell in Italy in 2006
Born 1931 (1931)
Nationality British
Education St Paul's, Oxford (MA, DPhil)[1]
Occupation Geologist, Author
Employer Retired

Colin J. Campbell, Ph.D. Oxford, (born in Berlin, Germany in 1931) is a retired British petroleum geologist who predicted that oil production would peak by 2007 . The consequences of this are uncertain but drastic, due to the world's dependence on fossil fuels for the vast majority of its energy. His theories have received wide attention, but are disputed by some in the oil industry and have not significantly changed U.S. governmental energy policies at this time. In order to deal with declining global oil production, he has proposed the Rimini protocol.

Influential papers by Campbell include The Coming Oil Crisis, which he wrote with Jean Laherrère in 1998, and is credited with convincing the International Energy Agency of the coming peak; and The End of Cheap Oil, which was published the same year in Scientific American. He was referred to as a "doomsayer" in the The Wall Street Journal in 2004[citation needed].

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas founded by Campbell has been gaining recognition in the recent years. They have organized yearly international conferences since 2002. The next is scheduled in Denver, Colorado on 11-13 October 2009. The previous one was in Sacramento, California on 21-23 September 2008.


The most famous peak oil petrogeologist is M. King Hubbert, who predicted in 1956 that oil production would peak in the United States between 1965 and 1970 . His theories became popular during the 1973 energy crisis, and during 1979 energy crisis when even the United States Secretary of Energy, James Schlesinger, announced that the peak had arrived[citation needed].

In December 2000 Colin Campbell warned in a public lecture held in Clausthal University of a possible 'ill-conceived military intervention in the Middle East.'[citation needed]

Global oil discovery peaked in 1964 [2], and since the early 1980s oil production has outpaced new discoveries. The world currently consumes oil at the rate of 84 million barrel per day (31 billion barrels/year, or 151 m³/s), and consumption is rising, particularly in China.

According to Campbell:

  • There are no new potential oil fields sufficiently large to reduce this future energy crisis.
  • The reported oil reserves of many OPEC countries are inflated, to increase their quotas, or improve their chance of getting a loan from the World Bank.
  • The practice of gradually adding new discoveries to a country's list of proven reserves, instead of all at once, artificially inflates the current rate of discovery.

Campbell has been predicting since 1989 ( claimed Peak then was 1990[citation needed] ) that this peak will cause a catastrophic worldwide economic depression.

One theory, held by many in the oil industry and the United States Department of Energy[citation needed], is that oil production will continue to increase, due to technological advances and the geopolitical pressure caused by rising oil prices. They argue that:

  • Much of the world's oil reserves come from areas that have not been fully explored because they are politically unstable, like Russia and Iraq. Nobody knows how much oil is really left in those areas, and economic pressure could result in a new exploration boom.
  • New methods of extracting oil from existing fields are currently being developed. This may even expand the definition of "oil": Hydrocarbons exist in shale and tarry sands, and as a result companies like Exxon predict that there are up to 14 trillion barrels (2,200 km³) of exploitable hydrocarbons left in the world, which could fuel the oil industry for another century.

The U.S. Department Of Energy report Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management, often referred to as the Hirsch Report, proposes an urgent mitigation approach to deal with the possibility of oil production going into decline in the immediate future.

It states: "The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking."

The current debate in the U.S. revolves around energy policy, and whether to shift funding to increasing conservation measures, fuel efficiency, and other energy sources such as wind power, solar power, hydropower, and nuclear power. Economist Michael Lynch claims Campbell's research data is sloppy. He points to the date of the coming peak, which was initially projected to occur by 1995, but has now been pushed back to 2007.[citation needed] However, Campbell and his supporters insist that when the peak occurs is not as important as the realization that the peak is coming.[citation needed]

 Personal background

Campbell has over 40 years of experience in the oil industry. He was educated at St Paul's School (the public school in London) and Wadham College, Oxford (BA Geology 1954, MA and DPhil 1957)[1], and has worked as a petroleum geologist in the field, as a manager, and as a consultant. He has been employed by Oxford University, Texaco, British Petroleum, Amoco, Shenandoah Oil, Norsk Hydro, and Fina, and has worked with the Bulgarian and Swedish governments. His writing credits include two books and more than 150 papers.

More recently, he founded the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, is affiliated with Petroconsultants in Geneva, is a trustee of the Oil Depletion Analysis Center in London. He conducts research on the oil peak, and he also tries to build public awareness of the issue, which includes lecturing extensively. He addressed a committee of the British House of Commons, and officials from investment and automotive companies. He has appeared in the documentary films The End of Suburbia, Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, and PEAK OIL – Imposed by Nature.


But it isn't this peak hasn't no real great significance, it is the perception and the vision of the long decline that comes into sight on the other side of the peak. That's really what matters. (speaking on peak oil phenomenon- End of Oil (2005))

See also


 Further reading

  • Dire prophecy: as prices soar, doomsayers provoke debate on oil's future, by Jeffrey Ball from The Wall Street Journal, volume 244, number 57, September 21, 2004.
  • The end of cheap oil, by Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherrère. Scientific American, March 1998.
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15 octobre 2009 4 15 /10 /octobre /2009 06:40



One (or two) years on - they have learned nothing

Just over one year after it became impossible to deny that the financial crisis that had started in 2006/2007 was a major, systemic event, it is rather depressing to see that nothing has really changed and, to the contrary, if anything has, it is for the worse.

The most striking item, of course, is the continued dominance of politicians by bankers. Banks are universally seen - including by bankers - as being at the heart of the problem, and having created the crisis through reckless behavior and worse. And yet, after having being bailed out at a staggering cost, in a highly asymmetrical way (the losses were socialised, but not the banks), not only have they managed to eliminate the likelihood of any meaningful regulatory change, but more importantly they have managed to maintain the fiction that finance was the reason for earlier prosperity and should thus be protected as a source of future prosperity. The crash has not made anyone question the quality (or reality) of the previous boom, but rather made them wistful for these times. Thus, the dominance of the finance sector on the economy and the airwaves has not changed one bit: we still worry about the stock market, it's still financial analysts and economists that drive the public debate, we're still talking about "reforms" of entitlements or the labor market as if these were the main problem today, and public policy largely avoids the big looming issues of resource depletion and climate change.

To extend on this a bit, here are a few items worth noting:

  • there's very little discussion of the fact that this is an income crisis namely, stagnation/lack of income, which was dissimulated for a long time by increased access to debt. All the endless debating about replacing private debt by public debt and whether that's a good thing or a sustainable one ignore the underlying problem: middle and lower class wages & incomes have been squeezed and need to be supported. Instead, we get savage budget cuts in social spending, ie in the very programmes that supplement or complement most people's incomes, and yet more talk about making the labor market more "flexible" (which only ever means pushing wages down). Public spending in collective infrastructure that would support living standards (including energy-saving plans such as support to home efficiency, or public transport), backed by real income (ie taxes on those who do not spend all their wages) is not seen as something necessary like the bank bailouts were;
  • there's been very little talk of the profound underlying responsibility of the financial world in that drive to reduce the cost of labour. This is usually presented as an inevitable consequence of globalisation, when in fact it's been a clear policy choice to focus policy priorities on improving returns on capital (at the expense of everybody else), and to take decisions that justified these choices. For instance, the permanent push to make pensions market-based rather than government-run: this creates new markets for the finance industry and, at the same time, helps justify return on capital requirements as something good for everybody's pensions; stock market performance and short term returns of investment managers then become key numbers for everybody and further drive the focus on short term profitability;
  • the massive call upon public resources, and the apparent "success" of bailout/stimulus plans (ie governments succeeded where the private market failed), as touted by the markets and politicians, has not lead to a real change of mood about government being a solution rather than a problem. Consistency is not the hallmark of our times. Already the talk is about too-invasive regulation, and unhealthy public debt burdens, as if these had been caused by reckless civil servants. The most obvious point is that higher taxes to pay for government saving the day are still seen everywhere as inconceivable or inacceptable. Just like the War on Terror did not apparently require any financial effort, the Big Bank Bailout cannot be allowed to touch upon taxpayers - or banks, which are too-big-to-failer than before.
  • the oil price increases prior to the crash are now dismissed as aberrations caused by speculators and not a signal of anything deeper happening; similarly climate change worries are often dismissed by Serious People as a "luxury" in today's tough times. As a result, we're doing even less than we could on these problems - and so much less than we should. Oh sure, there's a nice bit of spending on green technologies in the various stimulus plans, but it's still dwarfed by help to traditional sectors of the economy (ie it's not really a game changer yet) and it's nothing compared to what we know can be done. More importantly, it's still seen as a sideshow, and more of a necessary PR exercise than actual policy; more generally, the focus on short term needs eclipses any long term thinking and planning; the past blanket discredit thrown upon government prevents it from fulfilling that natural role (and brings about a slow decay of infrastructure, generally);
  • in that context, the impact of deregulation on energy markets, which encourages investment by private sector (at private sector cost of capital) rather than by the public sector (at discount rates close to long term sovereign debt cost) is never discussed. That means that energy spending is focusing, structurally, on investment-light but fuel-rich technologies, as it is easier to keep such investment profitable in the face of volatile prices even if it's not the cheapest technology. Thus we stay on our oil (and gas)-dependent trajectory through investment that can tie us in for decades. Additionally, private decisions on infrastructure generally lead to boom-and-bust cycles as supply reacts in exaggerated fashion to short term demand and price signals. But the financial world get to trade, hedge and finance to its heart, and apparently this is all that matters;
  • throughout, progressive ideas and parties have been discredited - either by having Serious People call the bailout of the financial world and other current regressive policies "socialism," blaming the continuing crisis on Big Government while preventing actual public intervention where it would matter (public investment, increased transfers to the poor and unemployed, better and/or more universal public health care, etc) - followed by the knockout blow: claiming very loudly that the crisis somehow discredits alternatives to unfettered markets;
  • behind all this, of course, is the agenda of large corporations - old industry incumbents, financial behemoths, not to mention the healthcare insurance juggernaut in the US - and their shareholders, and the twin overridding imperatives of return on equity and "competitive" management pay. They lobby, they run the debate and they outright buy off politicians. The grip of money over politics and policy has, if anything, tightened. But it's not seen as related to the crisis in any way - at least not by the Serious People (ie those that buy Serious People or are bought by them)

We need policies that actively promote (i) increasing incomes for the lower and middle classes, (ii) public investment (in particular on energy and healthcare) paid for by increased taxes, (iii) cutting down corporates (in particular, banks) to size. We obviously won't get any of these until the influence of money on politicians has been cut massively.

The past crisis was obviously not sufficient to shake the current system; if anything, the grip has been tightened. Pain for the masses does not matter if it has no impact on the political process; the past year suggests that the corporatists have been successful at defusing public anger and pointing it away from the real culprits; in many countries, the left is split between those that have been compromised too much within the system and those that are too seen as too shrill and neither can provide a credible alternative.

All this points, unfortunately, to a bigger crisis soon.

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15 octobre 2009 4 15 /10 /octobre /2009 06:38
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15 octobre 2009 4 15 /10 /octobre /2009 06:36
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14 octobre 2009 3 14 /10 /octobre /2009 16:06
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14 octobre 2009 3 14 /10 /octobre /2009 14:51



Le gouvernement actuel, tout comme ses prédécesseurs, est à l’affût de la moindre rentrée fiscale tellement il peine à contenir les dépenses publiques. En ce domaine, on fait feu de tout bois. Si l'’évasion fiscale en Suisse est montrée du doigt, l’épargne des français est particulièrement visée avec la proposition de surtaxer les revenus de l’épargne. Ce n’est pourtant pas en tarissant la pompe à capitaux que l’on relancera l’économie. Qu’on l’appelle capitaliste ou pas, l’économie aura toujours besoin de capitaux privés pour nourrir les investissements productifs qui fondent toute relance durable et saine. Si les financements publics sont nécessaires, ils ne doivent pas se faire au détriment de l’investissement privé.

Il y a toujours un grand danger pour les responsables politiques à s’avancer sur le terrain économique. Il y a en effet une chose fondamentale qui semble échapper à l’opinion commune : plus la sphère des biens gratuits s’agrandit, et plus la vie est chère et l’économie fragilisée. Il n’est pas aisé d’admettre que la gratuité généralisée rend la vie chère. Mais ce n’est qu’un paradoxe apparent : comme la gratuité n’existe pas, c’est que l’inflation est forcément déguisée ou que les prélèvements sont eux-mêmes camouflés pour être rendus « indolores ». Ils n’en restent pas moins des prélèvements : ce n’est pas parce que l’on ne sent plus le goût du poison que ce n’est plus du poison.
Que sont en effet les biens et services dits « gratuits » ? Ce sont finalement tous ces biens et services extrêmement coûteux que l’on veut faire payer par les autres (et les autres font le même raisonnement) comme l’éducation, la santé ou la retraite. C’est ce qu’on appelle la consommation collective. Mais qu’est-ce que la consommation collective ?
Imaginez que, lorsque vous consommez de l’électricité, c’est votre voisin qui reçoit la facture parce que vous avez piraté son compteur. Ce que vous ne savez pas, c’est que votre voisin a fait la même chose à votre insu. La conséquence est un dérapage de la dépense qui entraîne à son tour un dérapage des prélèvements pour régler la facture collective. C’est ce processus de déresponsabilisation qui explique les dérives récurrentes du budget de la sécurité sociale et de l’Etat.
Comme le pouvoir d’achat des ménages est dévoré par la montée des prélèvements de toute sorte, les ménages demandent de plus en plus de biens et services « gratuits » et le domaine de la consommation collective s’agrandit encore, celui-là même qui est à l’origine de l’inflation des prélèvements. Autrement dit, nous tirons tous sur la corde qui nous étrangle.
Les ménages ne s’aperçoivent plus que c’est précisément ce processus qui ronge leur pouvoir d’achat car les prélèvements leurs sont occultés. En effet, les responsables politiques s’efforcent de rendre les prélèvements « indolores », ce qu’il convient précisément de ne jamais faire si l’on veut que les gens réagissent, si l’on veut inverser les comportements et stopper le processus. Ainsi, les prélèvements sociaux sont retenus à la source (charges, RDS ; CSG) d’où l’illusion de gratuité des biens et services sociaux tandis que les prélèvements fiscaux basculent sur la fiscalité indirecte (TVA) d’où l’illusion de gratuité des biens et services publics.
On ne voit plus dans quelle proportion l’Etat prélève du revenu pour financer les biens dits « gratuits ». On ne voit plus que cette proportion devenue énorme est de nature à briser les ressorts de la création des richesses. Pourtant, malgré cette masse croissante de prélèvements, le secteur public n’a jamais assez de moyens si l’on en croit ses représentants, notamment parce que l’Etat élargit sans cesse le champ de ses prérogatives en nourrissant un processus de collectivisation particulièrement inquiétant.

A l’origine, l’argent public, c’est d’abord la part de la richesse privée que le ménage consent à laisser à la collectivité. C’est ainsi que les choses furent inscrites dans la déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen. Celle-ci énonce au passage les droits et devoirs du contribuable car contribuer au bien commun consiste précisément à faire acte de citoyenneté. Aujourd’hui, on assiste à une inversion des termes : l’argent privé, c’est la part de la richesse que l’Etat consent à ne plus nous prendre, c’est ce qui reste lorsque les contributions publiques ont été acquittées. Au nom d’une conception démagogique du « social » et de solidarité, et sur fond d’ignorance impardonnable – voire de négation même - des lois de l’économie, tous les gouvernements ont étendu la sphère de la gratuité sans dire que la gratuité est un concept qui nous coûte cher à tous.
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14 octobre 2009 3 14 /10 /octobre /2009 14:49


The Speech Obama Needs to Give

 (...in which he renounces Industrial Civilization)


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14 octobre 2009 3 14 /10 /octobre /2009 14:48
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14 octobre 2009 3 14 /10 /octobre /2009 14:47
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