Image credit: Adam Keys, used under Creative Commons license.
I may not have been a huge fan of Colapsus' alarmist depiction of peak oil, but with IEA whistleblowers warning of inflated oil stats, business leaders warning us to prepare for peak oil in 5 years, and secret government talks ringing peak oil alarm bells, it's hard to escape the feeling that the debate is shifting from discussing peak oil as a distant abstract, to something we will have to deal with in our short- to medium-term future. Now a new parliamentary report from New Zealand is adding to that feeling—and this one says we have even less time to act than we might have thought. Published by the Economics and Industry Team of the Parliamentary Library, the report—entitled The Next Oil Shock?—lays out the concept of peak oil, explains that oil production is moving to increasingly harder to extract reserves, and examines the economic implications of supply being unable to keep up with demand.
There's very little new here for those who have been following the peak oil debate ("what do you mean the New Zealand economy is vulnerable to supply crunches!?"), but it is yet another mainstream voice from Government emphasizing what we hippies, TreeHuggers and conspiracy theorists have been warning about for some time. As for timescales, the analysts at the Parliamentary library don't give us much time before it's going to start to hurt:
"When a supply crunch forces oil prices beyond a certain point, the cost of oil forces consumers and businesses to cut other spending, inducing a recession. The recession destroys demand for oil, allowing prices to drop. Major international organisations are warning of another supply crunch as soon as 2012.
The world may be entering an era defined by relatively short periods of economic growth
terminating in oil price spikes and recession. New Zealand is not immune to the consequences of this situation. In fact, its dependency on bulk exports and tourism makes New Zealand very vulnerable to oil shocks."
It looks like New Zealand's Transition movement may have just gotten some more ammunition to get its Government to take this threat seriously. Let's hope they listen.
More on Peak Oil and the Transition to a Post-Oil Economy
New Zealand's Transition Towns Gain Strength
Minus Oil: Energized Ideas for Surpassing Petroleum
Peak Oil Alarm Raised by Secret Government Talks
Peak Oil in 5 Years: Virgin Boss Branson's Warning