Don’t be Fossil Fooled – It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Back in February of this year I linked to an article by Paul Gilding titled The Year The Dam Of Denial Breaks, which talked about how by the end of this year the world would no longer be able to see the fossil fuel energy industry as the basis underpinning our energy needs.  Actually that article was more about the undeniability of need for climate change action, but since any such action predicates the need to stop using fossil fuels, the two go hand in hand.

Paul has now gone further than that, to declare “Fossil fuels are dead. The rest is details”, reblogged below. It is also clear to me that this is an inarguable position and one that we must face up to.

Where I diverge, or at least appear to diverge from Paul’s thinking, while giving due respect to his undoubted expertise on matters of business, is that the energy sources which are slated, not only in this article but generally touted around the ‘possible futures’ scene as replacements for fossil based energy sources, are not actually, or even remotely, up to the task in the medium to long term and cannot in fact exist more than momentarily unless backed by at least the liquid energy forms of the oil and gas industries. A factor that will sooner or later, once realised, bring about generalised panic to all concerned.

In his article Paul states that the decline of fossil based energy sources will occur “…independently of climate policy action”.  I would extend this statement to say that such decline will also largely be independently of the renewable energy industry.  I cite the following paragraph from the article:

“Then the only logical strategy for fossil fuel companies will be to get their depreciating assets out of the ground as fast as possible and invest zero in exploration and development, instead paying out spare cash as dividends to shore up their stock price. With everyone doing this, prices will fall chasing the declining market, undermining the value of the fossil fuel industry and reducing its political influence further.”

That is happening now and has been happening for all of this year, as evidenced by the current oil glut and the continually falling oil prices.

I have mentioned that on a number of occasions and I see no reason to alter that view no matter how euphorically ‘renewables’ are lauded in current discussion of energy matters.

My view of a future which is only viable in a world that has largely powered down to a level of simple living, with none (and I mean none) of our current modern technologies remaining available to us (can you even imagine that world?) for more than a single generation, still holds water and to me is the only or the best possibility for humanity to retain a foothold as a major species on this planet.

Paul Gilding

It’s time to make the call – fossil fuels are finished. The rest is detail.

The detail is interesting and important, as I expand on below. But unless we recognise the central proposition: that the fossil fuel age is coming to an end, and within 15 to 30 years – not 50 to 100 – we risk making serious and damaging mistakes in climate and economic policy, in investment strategy and in geopolitics and defence.

I’ve written previously about 2015 being the year the “Dam of Denial” breaks, referring to the end of denial that climate change requires urgent, transformational economic change. While related, this is different. It is now becoming clear we’ve reached a tipping point where fossil fuels will enter terminal decline, independently of climate policy action.

Given climate policy action is also now accelerating, fossil fuels are double dead. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, “So long and…

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