‘Bow down to Peak Oil!’ says BBC’s Cthulu-worshipping Newsnight | James Delingpole

June 11th, 2010

Yesterday on the BBC’s flagship news analysis programme Newsnight Britain’s gravest, most distinguished and hard-hitting political interviewer Jeremy Paxman asked the vital questions an eager world most wants to hear: Cthulu – Are we worshipping him enough? Will it be necessary to sacrifice our children to appease him? Or will he be content if we just all erect a shrine to him, perhaps involving candles and teddy bears and Jo Malone scented oils?

No, it wasn’t really Cthulu that Britain’s gravest, most distinguished and hard-hitting political interviewer was addressing but something just as warped and obsessive – and undoubtedly a lot more dangerous: the cult of Peak Oil.

Peak Oil is a scare story talked up by greenie catastrophists on every possible occasion to justify higher taxation, greater government intervention, global rule by people like the Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt and Al Gore and massive bonanzas for anyone involved in the wind farming or solar power industry.

Somehow, Newsnight had managed to twist the arm of Jeremy Leggett – who runs Britain’s largest solar power company – to come on the programme and crossly, passionately declare that Peak Oil represents a real threat. (Wot? Even bigger a threat than the one we’d suffer if we all relied for our energy on solar power in a country like Britain not known for its sun? Pull the other one, Jezza!)

The real problem with peak oil has been identified by Peter Foster in Canada’s National Post:

The problem with Peak Oil the theory isn’t that it’s wrong in noting that industry depletes resources, and that oil may, sooner or later, reach a production plateau, it’s that it sees those facts through a moralistically-charged and economically-challenged lens. It also embodies extraordinary faith in Big Government and grass roots activism.

PO Theorists fail — or more precisely refuse — to grasp that the best method of dealing with any form of commercial scarcity is market-based ingenuity, not some weird combination of Big Brother and Hippie co-ops.

Luckily, speaking opposite the would-be solar billionaire was a quite incredibly sensible, balanced, reasonable-sounding fellow from the oil industry. His name – and he is definitely this blog’s Hero of the Week – is Erik Haugane. He’s CEO of a Norwegian oil company called Det Norske, and if he’s anything like as unruffled and intelligent as he seemed on Newsnight, I’d suggest that BP should be headhunting him as their new boss.

Check out his performance on Newsnight here. (His discussion with Leggett is about 8 minutes in. Note how Haugane just won’t bother to engage with the needling and hysteria of the two Jezzas sitting with him. He just calmly tells it like it is).

Yes, oil will run out eventually, conceded Haugane, but added:

“I think we will stop using oil as an energy form long before we stop finding oil.”

“Like the stone age did not end because we ran out of stone, the oil age will not end because we ran out of oil.”

Yes, but what about Deepwater-Horizon-style disasters, Paxman wanted to know, as oil becomes harder to extract?

Ah but as technology develops, so the methods will become available to make it less hard to extract, said Haugane. By far the worst oil disasters in history – such as the spills at Baku in the early 20th century – occurred when the oil industry was in its infancy.


  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • LinkedIn
  • RSS
  • Technorati
  • Twitter
  • email

14 Responses to “‘Bow down to Peak Oil!’ says BBC’s Cthulu-worshipping Newsnight”

  1. TheFatCavema says:June 11, 2010 at 2:47 pmI’ve never understood why peak oil was a problem anyway.Are they worried that we’re using too much oil because the oil will run out? If we stop using oil it will last forever but so will anything we stop using. I know I’ll feel better knowing that we aren’t using oil so that one day my children and grandchildren will be able to not use it too.Are they worried that there will be some kind of crisis when oil runs out? If so why try to stop us using oil? If you want to create a crisis have government manage it. I can guarantee we’ll stop using oil when there’s none left. (On a less whimsical note as supplies dwindle and prices rise alternatives will become more profitable and hence be expanded.)

    Have we heard from the the global warming brigade on this? I’d think this means they can all go and do something useful with their lives. The end of big oil! It’s a dream come true!

  2. a. n. ditchfield says:June 11, 2010 at 4:57 pmIt is open season on British Petroleum and everything British, so the free trade in brickbats is to be expected between both sides of the Atlantic. What follows is my contribution.
    Fareed Zakaria wrote a book, The Post-American World. In it, Zakaria argues that America spread capitalism across the world, and so gave other countries economic efficiency to compete in terms of power. He warns, that while the America still dominates in terms of political-military power, Asian countries such as India and China are becoming assertive players. A Post-American World is coming into being.
    But the spread has been going on for two centuries and should be viewed as a by-product of an Industrial Revolution that gave English-speaking countries a weight that stands out of proportion to their population. It is only natural that when the world becomes more like the models, their uniqueness must fade. The measure of success of liberal democracy and a market economy rests exactly in the shrinking share of power of the Anglo-Saxon models.
    As recently as 1870, Britain had the only major industrial economy of the planet and had been so for 80 years. In a world that produced 130 million tons of coal, British output was then 100 million tons; two thirds of world steel output was British. Over the next fifty years Europe became industrialised and the phenomenon reached Japan. Above all, America became an industrial giant to a point, in the beginning of the 20th century, that the companies of Andrew Carnegie, alone, produced more steel than Britain. It was easy because the technology had already been developed in Britain; transfer was faster than creation. The time of such “relative decline” is fondly remembered in Britain as the golden age of international trade, when the steamship telegraph, cable, and a gold standard made international transactions as quick and easy as buying over the counter. Since all trade, in real terms, is an exchange of goods for equal value, it can only take place between productive economies. China and India are welcome aboard; poverty benefits nobody.
    In 1940, Britain stood alone against the Nazi menace and by default was to captain the alliance that defeated it. Americans, while well-wishers, still thought that Europe was something murky beyond the horizon, that the “Mother Country” could handle as usual. It took the disaster of Pearl Harbour to shake Americans out of a colonial mindset and dedicate to security an effort proportional to the weight of America. Britons thanked the Lord. If the first half of the century brought two world wars and a great depression, what would the second half bring? That was the mood in 1945, when Britons were weary of the role of lightning rod for what happened in the world. The left chastised Britain for neutrality in the recent Spanish civil war, and equally so for intervention in the current Greek civil war. The left then backed the wrong horses, as happens today. As it turned out, the obnoxious Franco regime warded off Nazi occupation of Spain at a time when Britain could not, and prompt action in Greece stopped communists from seizing power in the wake of retreating Nazi armies. This was for a practical reason, because the supply route passed through Athens, and done quicker than a leftist can say: “Non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries”.
    At the end of World II a typewritten message was posted over a mantelpiece at the S. Paulo Athletic Club, in Brazil. Its author remains unknown:
    Nobody’s wrong but England, and England’s always wrong;
    Too late, or else too early; too weak or else too strong.
    And when for once the wide, wide world, begins to praise her name,
    Her own sons crowd and hurry to shout her back to shame.
    Remember how they begged her to carry arms to Spain?
    But carry arms to Athens, Oh no! She’s wrong again!
    We mustn’t blame the Russians; the Yanks can do no wrong;
    I don’t even think the Germans will be guilty very long;
    Not Bismarck now but Baldwin is the architect of war;
    Wilhelm and Woodrow Wilson are not heard of any more.
    But England, poor old England, is anybody’s meat;
    Give her the hardest marches and then trip up her feet;
    Stand bravely on the touchline and criticise her acts;
    Bombard her with your sermons and never mind the facts.
    Laugh loud at every failure, lay claim to each success,
    And make a party profit out of the cosmic mess.
    Nor ever cease to whistle your happy little song:
    Nobody’s wrong but England, and England’s always wrong.A strong and prosperous Asia, with a vital stake in world security, is a welcome prospect. Americans could then whistle their happy little song: “Nobody’s wrong but America, and America’s always wrong”. This was the spirit of the cheerful reply of Bill Gates to Fareed Zakaria in a recent interview about a widening world. Henry Kissinger adds a word of caution. Diplomacy should avoid a rift between America and China of the kind that came about a century ago, between Britain and the German Empire of the Kaiser. A strong, democratic India may come to play a pivotal role in this.
  3. John Busby says:June 11, 2010 at 6:11 pmBP’s Statistical Review shows that peak oil occurred in 2005/2006/2007/2008 when within measurement accuracy production plateaued.Global oil production (including crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and NGLs) was as follows2004 80371
    2005 81261 thousand barrels/day
    2006 81557
    2007 81446
    2008 81995
    2009 79948

    Production in 2009 was 2.6% below that in 2008 and is now below that in 2004.

    BP will say that it is a question of demand, not supply, but lots of factors produce the peak oil scenario. We may have to wait another year or two to be sure, but the plateauing over four years is pretty conclusive.

    It looks as if peak oil has finally been passed.

  4. Sebaneau says:June 11, 2010 at 7:28 pm“Cthulhu”, not “Cthulu”.
  5. Peter Crawford says:June 12, 2010 at 8:20 pmSebaneau – Didn’t I see you in B&Q recently buying ten tons of horse manure ? Wikipedia has Cthulu spelled at least fourteen different ways you fucking prick.
  6. William Taylor says:June 12, 2010 at 9:22 pmWhere’s the link to the Newsnight clip?
  7. David Gress says:June 13, 2010 at 12:19 amCthulhu is right, as anyone who has read Lovecraft knows.Please banish Peter Crawford, who cannot keep a decent tongue in his mouth, and appears to believe that Wikipedia is a source of truth.
  8. Peak Oil says:June 13, 2010 at 2:38 amI understand that Hubberts peak is accurate and that we are now past the point of peak oil. I think many of the current events have to do with this senerio and it won’t be long before the main stream media and population wake up and understand what is going on. For me and my family, we are preparing for the next generation.
  9. David says:June 13, 2010 at 3:56 pmDoesn’t peak oil undermine the global warming argument? I don’t see how on the one hand the green activists can make projections about how the world is going to warm up because we are going to burn too much oil…and on the other say we’re not going to have the oil to burn because its all running out.
    I saw one promo video that said that 2012 was the peak and then another produced by the same people warning of the global warming disaster by the end of the century.
  10. JLK says:June 14, 2010 at 7:25 pmGod what a load of weird replies.
    Ditchfield droning on with a non-sensical (and almost as long) version of Zakaria’s non-sensical pseudo futurism.Then Peak Oil afficionadoes COMPLETELY missing the point about the irrelevance of their pet theory. Yes there are other energy sources out there (Huge increases in Nat Gas reserves for starters) that will take some of the heavy lifting away from oil as decreasing supply causes the costs to go up…..So what?There’s even one foul-mouthed crank who loudly proclaims the earth shattering news that Cthulhu can be spelled both ways inserting an oafish schoolyard insult in the process.
    Cmon guys lets upgrade a bit!
  11. William Taylor says:June 14, 2010 at 8:35 pmSorry to be repetitive, but where is the link to watch the video?
  12. Turtler says:June 16, 2010 at 12:46 amFirstly, regarding Cthulu/Cthullu/Cuthafoloo/Elizabeth the cat, ALL of them are right. Or more accurately, all of them are equally WRONG. Remember, this is an unspeakably alien abomination: we can’t actually GET its name right, we can only get aproximations of it right.Secondly, to be powerful is to be hated. No matter what you will do, you cannot curry favor with everybody or even close to everybody. No bother trying.
  13. Turtler says:June 16, 2010 at 12:48 amOh yes, and thirdly, the Deep Old ones and the Schoolboard of Innsmouth request that you not insult them by comparing them to Newsnight.
  14. JLK says:June 16, 2010 at 5:27 pmTurtler
    I didn’t say the bombing was useless I just said that blindly targeting German civilians was tantamount to a war crime. The Brits did not have enough fighter protection so they had to night target whatever seemed like the general location of Hamburg or Berlin. If the “blitz” that killed maybe 40000 Brits was so “awful” then how about killing anywhere from 250-600k (no one knows) civilians in firestorms that actually sucked people into their vortices with 100+ mph winds.At the beginning of the campaign when Harris was asked if this strategy was effective he said “no one has tried it yet so we will find out”, converiently ignoring the fact that all the London Blitz did was oiss people off. The Brits could have lost the war of strtegic bombing of airfields and radar facilities had continued. Get the connection Arthur? Hello!Duh! He also sent bombers armed with HE over first to create “kindling” for the later waves of Phosphorus bomb laden Lancasters. Nice.At least the Americans had the cojones (and the P51 of course) to daylight strategic bomb which in some cases like Ploesti was extremely effective in shortening the war unlike turning cities into rubble,

    As I said before though, unfortunately the British civilian torching campaign was repeated by Curtis LeMay in Japan.

    BTW wasn’t it the Brits who had a a bout of moral “outrage” over the Fraternity House pranks at Abu Ghraib?

    PS Leave the personal insults at the door if you want to discuss.

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

Mail (will not be published) (required)


Liked it? Take a second to support James on Patreon!