Arnie Cooper spoke with award-winning investigative journalist Greg Palast recently for The Sun Magazine. The text is not online, but Palast makes some major assertions that I’d like to share. First he debunks the entire idea of peak oil. He says it’s a myth invented by Shell Oil in 1956 in order to keep oil prices high.
We’re not running out of crude, dude. We’ve got plenty. The question is “At what price?” At twenty dollars a barrel, we’re dead out. At a hundred dollars a barrel? We’ve got all the oil you want.
Cooper then asks him about the need to turn to alternative energy. Palast is for it, but says it’s important to get the argument right. He says the “we’re running out of oil” argument leads directly to nuclear, while sustaining artificially high oil prices.
We won’t get green technology by telling people we’re running out of oil. Oil went up to seventy-five bucks a barrel, and I did not see one solar panel go up in New York City. Not one. We have to stop pumping carbon-based fuels into the air, not because we’re running out of carbon-based fuels, but because carbon will kill us. And it makes us political hostages to bloodthirsty maniacs.
As for the mainstream environmental movement, Palast pulls no punches.
The environmentalists like to talk about “win-win” scenarios. You know: corporations can make money by going green. What a crock of shit. Forget it. If they could do that, they would’ve done it already. Environmentalist Amory Lovins, who’s made millions of dollars working for big corporations, goes around saying, “Everyone wins.” Well, if everyone wins, then how come the skies are black and people in China are dying of arsenic poisoning? It’s bullshit. The only way we can get anything done is by limiting consumption by law and through a national commitment to use less carbon-based fuel. Let’s stop goosing around and clean up the planet.
I like the challenges presented by Palast, but I’m not ready to say business won’t soon profit from green technologies. Ted Turner, for one, believes sustainable energy and other green businesses will deliver wealth akin to what we’re seeing today in communications technology. I agree with Turner, and I agree with Palast’s point that we need to create and enforce much tougher environmental laws. A problem this big needs multiple answers. No single approach will do.