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By Seth Masia
National Public Radio’s Morning Edition program ran a startling interview this morning with Jeremy Bentham — not the utilitarian philosopher, but Royal Dutch Shell’s vp for the global business environment. In wonderfully elliptical language, Bentham conveyed the idea that Peak Oil is upon us and that oil will become more difficult to supply sometime around 2015.
He outlined two possible scenarios for the future: a chaotic scramble for oil resources (hello? What do you call the various Gulf Wars?), and a “blueprint” scenario in which “emerging coalitions” act to find solutions to energy supply and climate change issues. He defined the blueprint scenario as policy action by states (like California) and, presumably, by smaller nations — a patchwork of local solutions, including “some kind of carbon-dioxide pricing.”
Bentham dismissed the notion of global solutions as a pipe dream, but implied that any sudden imposition of new rules on a very large scale would be disruptive to business and investment. This consideration would appear to drive Shell’s preference for a gradualist, patchwork approach to energy policy.
It certainly sheds new light on the two-decade campaign waged by oil companies, through front organizations like the discredited Global Climate Coalition, to subvert carbon-reduction programs by national and supra-national entities.
Almost as an aside, Bentham suggested that up to 40% of future energy might be supplied from non-fossil sources. Generous thought.
Interviewer Steve Inskeep worked hard to pull a simple declarative sentence from Bentham. Click here for NPR’s summary of the interview.
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