If you saw the final episode of economist David McWilliams’ most recent television series ‘Addicted to Money’ you know that while he was making the series he experienced a Damascene moment.
McWilliams realised that not only was our last global economic boom the consequence of the availability of a century and a half of cheap oil but that everyone’s assumptions about the future are predicated on how soon we can replace this increasingly costly resource.
Peak oil, as McWilliams and many others have explained, isn’t just about the fact that the most easily accessible stocks of ‘sweet light crude’ have been seriously depleted.
The heavier, darker, dirtier sources are the ones we must now pay so much more to harvest from the earth’s crust (in the case of the vast oil sands of western Canada, where there is more oil than in Saudi Arabia) or its deepest fissures.
For example, there is ample scientific evidence to suggest that great reservoirs of oil are still trapped miles under the oceans like Brazil’s vast offshore Tupi field it discovered in 2007.
The problem is that the five to eight billion barrels of oil are under 7,060 feet of water, another 10,000 feet of sand and rocks and a further 6,600 feet of salt or nearly four and a half miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
Geologists know there is enough crude oil under the Arctic waters and probably on the Antarctic continent to meet the planet’s nearly endless energy expectations, but that it is, for now, the technology is simply not available to pump it out.
So what’s the alternative?
McWilliams interviewed scientific and economic experts who mainly warned that time is running out if we want to maintain our comfortable lifestyles and national economic growth.
We, of course, also have to cope with the ecological damage already done to the planet from the burning of fossil fuels.
We also need to make radical changes right now they say about our level of consumption of fossil fuel, or else the ability to keep heating our homes and factories, to put food on our tables, to keep transport moving and goods shipped, will not only be unaffordable, but unattainable.
In his latest book, financial advisor, activist, author and broadcaster Eddie Hobbs has also been converted to the peak oil argument and ‘Energise’ is his take on how peak oil came about and its consequences.
He warns that as a nation, and as individuals, we must act before oil prices reach US$200 a barrel by addressing our own consumption.
That price tag is inevitable, he writes, as the massive inflating of the money supply by governments and central banks to bail out the world banking system spills over into wider asset markets – especially the oil markets.
He argues that we must not only address the depletion of this precious resource, but also that we might be able to profit from it, by including energy and related sector shares in our pension and investment portfolios.
“The destruction of tax revenues, which is crippling the public finances, is not the greatest challenge to Ireland’s economic wellbeing since independence,” Hobbs writes in his introduction.
“Energy dependence on imported fossil fuels is by far the most serious issue Ireland faces.
“Even if we hit the long-term target of 40 per cent green energy, we will still depend 60 per cent on imports. Sitting on the western edge of the European energy grid, and with practically no energy sources of her own, Ireland is one of the most exposed economies in the world to turbulence in oil and gas pricing.”
This highly readable book – he describes it as a conversation with his readers – is a culmination of his personal research over the past few years into both the huge problems and the huge investment opportunities that the Peak Oil era provides.
Hobbs identifies and analyses the pros and cons of dozens of global companies, funds, indices and ETFs that focus on nuclear, hydro, natural gas and coal, electricity, wind and wave power providers.
He also examines other sectors like transport, refinery, mining and commodities that are essential components of energy producing industries or those that are intricately linked to them, like the car industry.
“You can act now,” writes Hobbs.
“You can divest yourself of assets that will be hit hard by prolonged energy-led inflation and switch to assets that are positioned to create wealth during what will be the longest and largest commodity bull market in modern history.”
‘Energise’ is available online for €8 at www.eddiehobbs.com and all profits will go to the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation.
It is one of the best and jargon-free reports about this subject for ordinary people who are not sophisticated investors.
If you are interested in investing, you must do your own research or take independent, fee-based professional advice first about the shares or funds he highlights. This is not a static market.
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