April 30, 2008

Go Dutch and learn to live in a world without oil

Posted in International Economy · 49 comments ·

Building more roads in response to congestion is the economic equivalent of telling an obese man to buy bigger trousers

Who will be the last man to use the last drop of oil in his car? Will he be a tyrant, a president or a billionaire? Maybe the last stash will come from a battered jerry can of petrol, which has been hoarded and squirreled away for years. How much do you think the last drop will cost? How impotent will he feel as he watches the petrol gauge move to empty, never again to be replenished?

What will the world look like on that last day? Will it be a dystopian Mad Max type wasteland, destroyed by wars over the last drop of oil? What are the chances that the last day will be welcomed by a sensitive green society that has prepared for this eventuality for decades?

Human nature suggests that the green image of a tranquil last day is not likely and it is more likely the last day will be preceded by panic and anger. For example, how many people will have starved because the productivity of agriculture will fall precipitously as dwindling petrol supplies dry up? These are not questions we ask ourselves everyday, but surely this day will come and our own children might see it.

The world is involved in a monumental resource battle as the irresistible force of an exploding global population smashes into the immovable object of finite resources.

While cycling around Amsterdam recently, it struck me that cities like the Dutch capital will be among the best prepared for the end of oil. Of course, life there will change in a most dramatic fashion — as it will everywhere. However, by creating a consensus around cycling, urban living, public transport and fuel efficiency, the Dutch are pre-empting the inevitable.

Maybe, every time they cycle to work, they don’t see this decision as training for the last day, but this is exactly what it is. The people of Amsterdam are doing the hard part today to make sure that when the hard part really comes, that they will find it easy. The interesting aspect is the “hard part” isn’t hard at all. In fact, cycling around on narrow streets with few cars gives you an almost childlike sense of freedom.

Contrast this Dutch approach to urban transport within Ireland. In our planning, with our refusal to go high-rise and our increasingly spread-out, car-dependent, commuting model, we are going in the wrong direction. By building more roads and buying more cars in response to congestion, we are fooling ourselves. This is the economic equivalent of telling an obese man that the solution to his fatness is to buy bigger trousers.

The news coming from the energy sector suggests we have precious little time left. Last week, both the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal told us that Russian oil production had peaked. Russia is the world’s second largest oil producer and the implication of this announcement from Lukoil, Russia’s biggest oil company, is frightening. In addition, Mexico — the US’s third largest source of oil — announced that it would not be an oil exporter in a few years. Meanwhile, the North Sea’s output is declining rapidly.

What is the world doing about this? We have responded by bizarrely growing food to use as fuel! This, at a time when there are food riots all over the third world, seems almost grotesquely surreal. Corn — the staple for the world for thousands of years — is now being grown to feed engines, not people! This is not a long-term solution. In fact, the idea of food for fuel should be seen as an indicator of just how serious the energy crisis is and how close we are, not just to an uncomfortable spike in the price of petrol, but also to a monumental shift in the price of all energy.

Ireland should prepare for this now by using planning as the key instrument to change our behaviour. In fact, we should use the slump in the economy to take stock and learn a few lessons.

The major lifestyle lesson of the past few years is that sloppy planning leads to urban sprawl. If you combine this with the deregulation of financial markets, which allows credit to cascade into the economy, you get a housing bubble which results in lots of worthless houses being built in the wrong places.

This is what we have ended up with; loads of empty houses in parts of the country with few people and not enough accommodation in the part of the country with the most people. So we have thousands of once expensive, second homes unoccupied and not enough fairly-priced, first homes for those who need them!

One way to solve this is to build up not out, creating the population density to make new public transport investment in trams and trains affordable. In the 1970s, the Dutch decided to move the old port of Amsterdam out of the city, freeing up valuable land, reducing congestion and giving the new port access to the road and rail network. Dublin could do exactly the same. Dublin’s port is a waste of space. It could be moved and built on. This idea is hardly new, it’s been knocking around for a while, but the energy crisis makes it imperative.

Developments like the Point Village and U2′s tower are the future. Similar ideas are being floated in Cork, down by Pairc Ui Chaoimh, while anyone who has tried to get around Galway at rush-hour will realise that it can’t sustain more suburban sprawl. Creating new towns, with mixed use shops and residential developments in the one area is the only way to respond to the world running out of oil.

There are lots of ways that a government with a clear vision could do this. Give out free bikes, for example. I know this sounds odd but why not? No one could argue that free education did not prepare the society for the challenges of globalisation, why not prepare the population for the coming energy crisis — where oil could be at $200 or $300 a barrel — with free bikes?

The State could also cut public transport fares by half to encourage use. The basic tenet of economics is that people respond to price changes, so use economics creatively. We could reward development that is environmentally logical and penalise development that is not. These are all pretty simple things. Cost these initiatives, figure out how to finance them and do it.

The Dutch have shown us the way and have been repaid in spades by tourist revenue alone. So why don’t we break the habit of a lifetime and prepare for the coming energy depression? Given the certainty of the last day of oil, we owe it to our children to ready them for the greatest revolution in living the world has seen for centuries.

  1. Good luck with this.

    Since I’m in Ireland, I have talked about this to many irish and I still can’t understand, neither they can explain to me, where are the advantages of living miles away from the civilization, with no services and stairs in your house. Every home needing 2 cars and lots of petrol and time waste in commuting.

    Many Irish I know, even prefer duplex apartments to standard apartments the same size because… they have stairs!!!. The biggest accessibility problem looks to be a pro for many Irish people I know. They agree that will be a problem when they age or if they break a leg, but they still prefer stairs and fireplace.

    That’s another problem. Energy consumption in a house to keep it warm is bigger than for apartment blocks. That will be another issue for the irish way of life.

    I think the problem is that most irish people only know this and they don’t want to change to something they don’t know. The few ones that have been living in continental cities agree that cities growing high are better, but even they don’t want to live like that in Ireland given the lack of services and public transport.

    I hope there is enough time to change that, but that requires to change the irish way of thinking, and that won’t be easy.

  2. John Q. Public

    We built Turlough hill in the late 1960′s, we should build a few more and copy Iceland’s approach to energy needs. Hydrogen driven cars are also an option.
    Besides, the Irish are too lazy to cycle in great numbers. I could not see Hicos and decklanders cycling anywhere. You would have to give children the free bikes and hope they continue it into adulthood. Most of us live too far from work to warrant a bycycle anyway.

  3. The-Original-Ed

    David, peak oil panic is total unwarranted – the U.S. has five times the Saudi oil reserves in shale oil under some of its central states – that should keep them going for another one or two hundred years. Then there is the nuke to fall back on, it can to produce electricity for many different modes of transportation . The energy can be stored in a battery, for all electric vehicles or in hydrogen form for an internal combustion engine – BMW has already announced the Hydrogen 7 – a dual energy source vehicle using hydrogen or petrol. Battery technology is powering ahead, the Lithium-ion cell is soon to be replaced by a new technology offering twice the energy storage capacity for the same volume and weight. The sooner that oil is eliminated as an energy source for ordinary transportation, the better – the future will then be cleaner and greener. Nuke is the ultimate answer for energy production and eventually we’ll have to embrace it. Remember that all our hydrocarbon fuels originally got their energy from our sun – a nuclear furnace and when the oil reservoirs run dry , it’ll be back to basic nuke again.

  4. idiottje

    I agree about the Irish being lazy and not cycling. I cannot see that working. I am moving to an apartment only a mile away from my job, so I am doing my bit, but I am in a minority that has this flexibility to move, as I am renting and did not buy a house. I fear that there will not be any change to the current policy unless we have a change, and a serious change in Government because I fear that they lack the vision. We also need to change our own view of things. Irish people do not care about anyone but themselves, so as long as they want it, and can have it, they do not give a fig about the environment or anything else.
    Energy is going to be a big problem, and energy in all it’s capacity, including food will be in high demand with low availability. (Just Google where did all the bee’s go? They are directly responsible for the pollination of a third of all food stuffs.) We have almost reached peek capacity for oil globally, and Biofuel is really not the solution. Where will we grow it with an increased amount of desertification and other areas becoming an icy wilderness? I hope that the human capacity to adapt and over come will resolve these issues, and the technology already exists. We just need to put them all together and manage them.
    We can put a solar panel on the roof of every building and generate electricity that way. It will change the business of the ESB, so that lobby will not be happy. The battery technology to store the surplus already exists and is good enough. In order to provide for peak demands, we should bite the bullet and look at nuclear. It may have issues with waste (modern plants are much more effective in the use of their fuel cores) but they do not add to CO2 emissions. We need to grow up in relation to our fear of this source. It may be the very thing to save us.
    I fear that the odds are stacked against us. We can talk about all of these changes, and plans, but it will take a long time to implement fully. We will be unable to cycle from , as an example, Navan to Dublin to work everyday. The people in Navan will be unable to sell their property to finance a move closer to work. The political will may even slightly exist, but the capital to finance it does or will not. I think we are now passing the denial stage of where we stand, and we need for people to come up with feasible plans that we can implement, and all sections of our society need to buy into as a group, because another thing that the Dutch have that we do not, is experience in coming together to work at a common goal for the benefit of the nation as opposed to the individual or individuals. With out that, the Dutch would not even exist right now. Do they even have an equivalent of NIMBY in Dutch?

  5. I cycle from Sandyford to Thomas St. every day. Good exercise and I don’t have to spend horrendous money on fuel.

  6. b

    BMW has announced a new hydrogen car every year since 1988 and still nobody runs the risk of being run over by one.

    I used to cycle but had so many near death experiences and three accidents I decided that staying alive was a good plan and stopped. I remember well when Ireland played Russia because some idiot in an Astra opened his door in my face outside Landsdowne.

    If you cycle into town you have nowhere to hitch your horse to either. An abandoned bike can stay at the bike stands for all eternity.

    Public transport turns into a pumpkin here too early and is so laboriously slow people don\’t rely on it. Its not in the picture. London has 24 hour buses and most counties have buses in the evening when most Irish bus drivers are at home watching Fair City or shouting at the kids.

    Its not a money thing, its an attitude thing and people won’t change their attitudes.

    The key difference between Irish and Dutch decision makers is the Irish willingness to choose a projected fantasy world with no problems over the reality of how people live. In Ireland we talk and bullshit about a lot of things but when it comes to execution conforming to the bullshitters reality is more important than actual reality.

    The Luas is a great little scheme. Once you get onto it it works. But its completely unintegrated with the rest of the transport of the city and the Park and Ride is a complete joke outside of the Red Cow. In Dundrum if you are not there before 7:15 or earlier you don’t get anywhere to park and therefore those people who would have got the train stay in their cars. In France where I just was there are large car parks beside suburban stations and you can drive from your place, walk skip, lo-lo ball whatever and go into Paris and do your business or go to work. Stevie Wonder has more vision than the “decision makers” in Ireland who would rather push a bad idea on the rest of us than consider a new way of doing things.

    I am out here on de norte side and near enough to the Airport. You can stand out here and wait a full hour for a 41, 16 and 33. If you want to get from here to another part of the city thats not the city centre bring lots of change, a map, a tent, supplies, walking boots and a lot of patience. Dublin as a city doesn’t work for people. It only works if you drive.

  7. Bobby boy


    While I agree with you that moving to new fuel services is a must — where will the uranium come from for nuclear power? That too is a finite resource. Further more, there are the tar sands in Canada, Shale Oil in the US, and there is also wide held belief in super deep oil below deep watedr in henceforth untouchable fields. However, for the tar sands and shale oil, the cost of accesing these reserves is prohibitive. It will not stop the problem of high oil prices. The same goes for uranium — it is hard to come by and has been increasing in cost. As energy in general gets more expensive — the viability of dormitory living utilizing a large amount of energy becomes an inneficient model. That means a lot of change — and planning for that change makes sense I think.

    Yes — we should be prepared to diversify our energy sources, both in type and in terms of the people who provide it, but either way it will be much more expensive in the next 10 years. So why not try to optimise our use of that energy. Otherwise we are wasting our time and our human energy to fuel an inefficient model.

  8. Nice article David, keep up the good work. I moved to Holland from Dublin almost ten years ago and one of the driving factors was that The Netherlands offers sustainable city living. Not only can cycle everywhere but there is a fully integrated public transport system so that I can check on one website (9292ov.nl) what is the quickest route from any location in the country to another using public transport. I have a car but I drive maybe once a week, normally when I need to carry stuff in the car.
    Another point that you ‘maybe didn’t hear about is that there is a long term plan to introduce a kilometerheffing to pay for road use. Basically you will be charged for every kilometer you drive. This is fantastic because there can be no better way to force people to live closer to where they work.
    As it is I drive about 2000km per year and I have an insurance policy through which I pay per kilometer drive. I am a major advocate of the kilometerheffing because I do not see why somebody who drives as little as I do should pay for heavy users of the roads.

  9. jk

    Very suitable topic for 30th April; Queen’s Birthday in The Netherlands. Today you can cycle everywhere even after having 1 or 2 oranjebitters….

  10. Ted

    Surely the article highlights that nuclear power is the only option open to Ireland to ensure that we have some degree of security of energy in the future.

    History has shown us that the the energy ‘waste product’ of previous generations have become major economic resources of future generations. Bitumen was a waste product of oil production – which was used to build the roads that became the major economic artieries of the 20th century, natural gas was initially vented into the atmosphere from oil wells – this is now recognised as being the cleanest and most efficient cabron source of energy generation.

    A solution will be found to the nuclear waste problem. Learning from the past it is likely that this too will drive economic progress. While we should be implementing all the ‘green’ alternatives availalbe we also need to go down the nuclear route.

  11. Kevin

    David, Dublin could be turned into the cycle haven you seek in one swift swoop. All it would take is is to give cyclists the same “right of way” as they have in Amsterdam. Over there, if there is an accident between any other party (whether it be a pedestrian or a driver), and a cyclist, the other party is automatically at fault.

    The problem is that everyone drives in Ireland so there is no political will to introduce something like that. We are closer to Boston than Berlin after all…

  12. Philip

    It’s back to Malthus again. And while I do believe man will come up with solutions, it will not be quick enough. The R&D and product development over the last 50 years has been huge and it’s slow. It is very very hard to match the energy density of a litre of gasoline and the way it can propel a 1 tonne vehicle over 20 km at 100kph. Batteries come nowhere near this yet. Maybe in 20 years.

    But I think we only have 5 – 10 years to crack this one or Malthus’s nightmare scenario will become global. As you have so well indicated, this problem is spreading into food and other resources critical to day to day survival. Eugene Linden’s “The Future in Plainsight” makes compelling reading. Basically it’s down to greed and mis-management.

    The thing is that we really do not need any new technology. We just have to change the way we operate.

    As a nation, it would take us 30 years to replicate the Dutch methods. Social and Infrastructure development inertia is just too big. I think in the meantime, we should focus on making Villages/Towns better and improve transport connections between them – Hub and spoke approach with practical and dedicated light rail or efficient rubber tyre transport. We are not moving to cities and frankly I think they have their own problems. The only reason cities existed was as a cost efficient comms environment when telecoms never existed. Their sudden recent expansion is merely due to legacy thinking and technolgy amplifying it. An analogy is The Paperless office – which wound up consuming more paper than ever before…but it’s changing. And so it will with cities. Small towns do it better. OK..we need one or 2 cities or cultural centres..but dont cram it too much and make them smaller. Highrise is complete nonsense and unnecessary and very expensive and unreliable not needed anyway. Disease will also make cities useless. The bugs are getting nastier and with all this hassle going on worldwide, I think it’s a question of when rather than if.

    I think telecoms needs to be leveraged more. There is really no need for 100s of 1000s of folks to be commuting. Most jobs are easily run from a remote location. When many go to work they bury their heads in screens there. They may as well stay at home or a work space in their local village to do the same thing. And we need to end this nonsense that line management needs eyeball to eyeball contact. It’s down to techniques and appropriate tools and learning new ways of doing things – speaking from direct experience of managing dozens of folks all around the world.

    Here’s a funny thing – just to put ourselves into perspective – the weight of insects in Ireland and UK outweighs the total mammalian weight on those islands by several times to one. If the insects can do it without being seen, we can. Bzzzzzzzz

  13. b

    1. We won’t give up the car until the last second.
    2. As a nation we are a follower not a leader and won’t budge on oil until some other country has a serious problem.
    3. When we do react it will be piecemeal and in the wrong areas and directed at the wrong places.

    Basically we are screwed and if we look to the politicians to move first we are even more screwed.

    Philip above scares me. Weighing bees and managing dozens and dozens of people. Sounds like an air hostess to me.

  14. Rob

    I too cycle every day from Sandyford to town. It is great exercise but it is extremely dangerous, guys and gals in their new cars will almost run you over while 2 mins later you pass them by as they are stopped at the lights.

    While I do feel sorry for people who commute long distances they did so in order to buy a fairly small house in somewhere in Meath meanwhile i know apts in town with the same square footage were available at the same price. No factoring was made of the extra cost in commute and no factoring of the health cost of sitting in traffic for 3 hours every day, obesity, an epidemic in Ireland. Diabetes, on the rise.

    One thing I have noticed and someone touched upon this earlier (probably an immigrant!) is that you can talk about these issues to your work colleagues ’till you are blue in the face, yet Irish people persist in this mindset of buying into bad planning decisions. Ultimately these are the people who unwittingly will pay the price (this may also help to politicise these same people when they realise how they have been codded).

    One last point, ban traffic from around central dublin, from o’connell bridges to stephen’s green to george’s street. Only taxis, buses, luas, bikes allowed. Everyone will complain but it will work and will free up the city. Irish people are fundamentally lazy (well some are anyway) agus uaireanta bíonn cic sa thóin ag teastáil uathu.

  15. x

    Agree with the thread forming here – the problem is not the Irish politicians – although they are not blameless – but the Irish people themselves. Let’s not kid ourselves, Irish people just don’t care and they refuse to look ahead anything more then 1 or years. Of course there are obvious, well known exceptions in the nation but look nations like the Dutch, Danish, Chinese, Singaporeans, Germans etc. Sure they are not perfect but at least there seems to be a communal thread or sense in these societies of having to all club together to lift the tide and not just this singular vision of “Me Fein and Today”. The only thing that will snap people out of their delusions will be a short/long shock – a real tipping point where people wake up and realise that we HAVE to change our ways and thinking and become more smarter in how we run our lives and the country.

    Property prices falling 20%, ridiculous commuting times, negative equity etc etc are nothing. This is a nation, remember, that stood on the precipice of national economic and political failure only 20 – 30 years ago remember thus they are a hardy lot and can take a lot of pain. Saying that having to go back to those days may be just what the doctor ordered. I for one would love to see a guy like Cowen really LEAD and get on the TV some Sunday night and spell out to the nation what we need to do and what the repercussions could be (both positive and negative) if we put put heads down.

    PS. I am an Irish national who left 12 years ago and have since lived in the UK, US and Asia. Was considering returning home this year after I was luckily enough to sell my business and after have created for myself what many considered a “successful” career however after going home and doing some due diligence and homework about setting up a new business in Ireland (and bringing home some of the skills, really good global network and ideas that I have learnt overseas) and then speaking to various sources of funding and advisors etc etc and then being REPEATEDLY told that what I was trying to do was too “bold” and too “sophisticated” for Ireland I just the in the towel.
    These so called sophisticated experts and advisors in Ireland (and we are talking about the likes of the big financial institutions etc here that you read about in the business section of the Irish Times and that are heavily located around Dawson St and St Stephen’s Green) advised me (and get this) to better spend my time by looking at investing in and setting up a business in “property”. This was only a year ago btw. They also advised me on using investment structure that the rest of the world would consider arcane these days! I could not believe my ears at the time. Pity the poor sucker of an Irish doctor and dentist who is investing in these so called investment consortiums into over inflated, trophy assets offshore and don’t even realise they are being pummeled for it in terms of fees and returns…but that’s another story.

    The also told me (btw) that given I had been away for so long (like it was a bad thing that I had learnt my craft with the best and brightest in New York and London etc) and that I would have to expect to eat a bit of humble pie in coming home…
    Gee, cool !

    So guess what? I ain’t coming home. Sure it’s my loss ultimately as I would love to be able to go home and create something closer to my old mates and family who all still live there but, man, who wants the hassle and the tall poppy syndrome and BS implied in doing so ON TOP of the inherent risk, cost and sweat required in starting something new? Not I !

    Ok…you can all have a go at me now.

  16. Garry

    Good man David, hopefully articles like this will help people realise apartment prices are a diversion and the challenges facing the world are climate change, food security and energy security.
    Sure, there are major economic issues right now but thats all just paper money anyways….

    Agree 100% on biofuels; the fools in their flexifuel cars are literally outbidding the third world for food and putting it in their tank with an added bonus of destroying rainforests in the process…

    I would argue we need to hitch our wagon to Europe and launch an EU wide project, largely because the scale of the challenge needs serious investment and long term planning and it affects us all.
    We can basically do what the Chinese and the Americans are doing which is secure remaining supplies by force or proxy. Or we can show there is a better way through peaceful means… (scale up research and implementation of current technologies).

    We need a new backbone for our electricity system (probably nuclear in some form but lets research it properly) and supplement it renewables. (All renewables would be great but unlikely; It would take 12 ardnacrushas to just replace moneypoint for example). A big problem here is the new age/pseudo green lobby who are dominating the debate and don’t understand the difference between a mW and a MW. They really want to believe theres enough energy in Irelands grassland to power (and feed) cities but dont trust engineering (or indeed most proper sciences)

    Like interest, the laws of thermodynamics never rest and any solution has to be properly researched&modelled to verify it works when scaled up and engineered. For that we need science, mathematics & engineering; skills that have long been devalued in western society.

  17. Liam Holohan

    I really dispair at dublin/cork/galway going the LA route for transport infrastructure. I know David has a special affinity to the danes and with my wife being Danish I go to CPH every few months. In the past 5 years they have put in a metro which they are extending. Timetables are down to the half minute (thats 30 second accuracy for feck sake) its non driver operated, runs 24 hours a day and has some stations in the middle of fields. When I asked why in these fields, the proud danish response is “there will be houses here in 5-10 years” now that’s planning done right. Only open for 5 years and already extending it again http://www.m.dk/en/construction. And this is in a city with great busses, cycle lanes everywhere, a “dart” (s-tog) with 7 lines and 85 stations, not to mention they give free bikes (BMX lookalikes) in the summer for tourists to use in the city centre. (apparently the bikes are repaired by prision inmates in the winter and are fitted with tracking devices. but I can’t see that happening in the joy or Portlaoise)

    Back to Ireland:
    houses in the counrtryside – being from a farm I see no problem with that. But I am sick to death of the planning laws in my area requiring a “dormer” or nothing. We should be building eco friendly, ultra energy efficient houses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house).

    words of doom
    nuclear is the only option if we get over our hangups about bombs even Lovelock (Mr Gaia) agrees.

  18. idiottje

    Hello again. I think it is good to see a debate on our reliance on oil and gas energy, and I mentioned about food also in a previous post. In relation to the “Green” politics around nuclear, and the risks, the main Green Party’s in Europe have all ready recognized that nuclear is the lesser of two evils, and it should be developed. Some one in a previous post , I think it was Bobby, mentioned that uranium is a limited supply, and this is true, but advances in technology are being made to enhance the half life of uranium to prolong it’s ability to decay and provide sufficient energy, and the ITER (www.iter.org) project is advancing the search into replicating the kind of fusion that the sun (ultimate original source of energy as someone mentioned before) is powered by.
    However, this is me going off on a technology rant, which is somewhat unnecessary. The thing that gets my goat is that we all know this stuff is out there, but we, as Irish people, are not willing to get on board. We should at least be involved.
    We did have the skills not so long ago when I was in University, Science was the most popular subject, but now (and I work in one of the major Universities) Science is not “sexy” and sure, aren’t we all all nerds and geeks. It is in morkintg, medjia studies and the like you want to be in to get your mini and Beetle.
    If we, as a national policy were on board, and contributing to projects such as ITER, and even if we got on board the ESA projects, and make Science sexy in interesting again, we could attract the students, and become stronger in this field. It is a vicious circle. We need to fire up the interest and imagination in these things to make them interesting, to attract the students, to feed into more projects, to attract more, etc. Want to see how sexy, look at this and tell me if it is not amazing, and fun … (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMsH2fKyNy8&feature=related)
    Slight aside the point, but it fires the imagination.
    But being Irish, I suppose we will charm the pants of the world, whispering sweet promises of dreams in one ear, while building a block of flats in the other and taking as many grants as possible for little effort.

  19. ghghhgh

    I posted on politics.ie a question to guage public acceptance of the idea of a modern digital solid motor fuel conversions to consume wood – far higher density than land intensive ethanol or biodiesel so no food impact, but comes at the expense of some bulk on the vehicle. No opinions, so no idea if there is a market yet. Conversion would occupy part of the loadbed of a crew cab as an alternative to the petrol powered saloon.

  20. GOM

    Interested in a couple of posts here:

    The Original Ed – what battery technology do you refer to that will replace Lithium ion? Do you have a source?

    Nuclear is not “the lesser of two evils” – I know it is easy to use these cliches but we should stop associating “Nuclear” with “Evil” There are solutions to the nuclear waste problem – granted they are storage solutions but now we are expert in making tunnels we should try it !! A real NIMBY issue about to emerge. I always smile heading to Cork as the signs proudly declare it “A Nuclear free zone” – true, the sun doesn’t get much chance to shine there but its not that bad! http://www.stuk.fi/ydinturvallisuus/ydinjatteet/loppusijoitus_suomessa/en_GB/loppusijoituslaitokset/

    I don’t agree with the “Irish people are lazy” I think fundamentally all people are lazy unless incentivised to get off their arses.

    The parallel between Dublin and Amsterdam is erroneous….at least when comparing the population densities and the area of the countries. Vertical living is the solution for such high densities and it is no wonder that this is the case in a place like Amsterdam as it is in other places such as Taiwan with high denisity populations.

    I do agree we are atrocious at planning – even small projects. I work in the Sandyford area and noticed that the junction at the Beacon Hotel has been reengineered five times in the 2 years since it was opened for that link road – this is not only appalling but in fact criminal and we should object to paying taxes for this level of incompetence. It is not the only place I have seen torn up straight after it was designed and every lovely new path I look at I wonder when it is going to get ripped up!

    I also agree that the transport here is a joke in terms of the non-joined up thinking associated with its planning. Unfortunately I agree that there will have to be a Malthusian like shock to the system to really get things re-organised. In our defence, much of Europe benefitted from post-war investment infrastructure so maybe a “The Mouse That Roared” kind of plan would get us there!

    x: I completely empathise with your position – I am on this side of that equation, i.e., living in Ireland but seriously considering taking me and my hi-tech business out of here (already set up a US entity) where would you recommend!?

  21. Maxdiver

    And don’t forget that the Dutch produce their own oil and gas.
    And they have considerable reserves in the Southern North Sea and in thier Gröningen Gas Field.
    Plus they have a major oil terminal – meaning that they are likely to be impacted less by supple disruptions.

    Ireland on the other-hand produces little of it’s own energy needs.
    Hydro, wind and turf account for little.
    The Cobh gas field is small and declining and the Corrib field has been delayed a few years.

    Ireland – you would think – would have learned to develop in a manner that suits its environment – but we don’t.

    Our economy has a poor Barrel of Oil Energy use : $ GDP ratio.

    The problems we have a many-fold but the development of Ireland over the last 20 years has not been foresightful.

    I like many who have lived abroad in Europe – would be put off returning home because of these things.

  22. Philip

    B, don’t be giving the wacky airline here any ideas. the last thing I want is are Pilots and Hostesses working from home while us punters are up in the air.

    The root cause of the incompetence and poor planning etc is not becasue we Irish are stupid. It’s a pure and simple lack of accountability and straight talking. That’s it in a nutshell. Our business/ government/press/ entertainment/ financial/legal legacies remain very intact to this day with a high degree of nepotism, cronyism and faciliated insider activity which keeps new ideas out and allows old ideas to fester and grow way by their sell by date. The truth will never come out and you can forget about accountability. The sole reason Science and Tech do not work here is that it is too new. It would need to be about 3-4 generations embedded into the cognescenti here to favour any recognition. Until then, S&T will just be regarded as something of a mild curiosity. The current institutions reward backward thinking that does not challenge the status quo.

    And this explains the crazy planning, the lack of vision, the follow if we have to attitude…these individuals are comfortable and when the Malthusian Shock comes, they figure they’ll be sitting pretty with their multiple ministerial pensions, safe jobs for life etc. wincing a little as the browse the daily disasters. And when the mess finally plays out, life will return to normal as far as they are concerned. The unfortunate planner or programme manager learns very quickly whose toes not to step on and for many it is a baptism of fire. No planner in his or her right mind would ever countenance the nonsense we are seeing around us were it not for the pressure of extreme compromise they have to endure…remember they have to pay off that 400K mortgage.

    The fix for the above is not easy to contemplate or imagine. One cannot help feel that it’s going to be sticky in places. A malthusian shock may work – but there are 3 scenarios -you drown, you swim or you do not care because you have plenty of oxygen. The drowners will suffer badly in a downturn. The swimmers are the business/ entrepreneurial types who see things differently. The “dont cares” are our public sector. That means you need a good long shock before real change happens.

    Until then, forget about honest and solid straight thinking on how we do our planning and incentivise businesses. But, there are signs that the wheels are coming off the cart for the existing legacy structures we have here at the moment. Resignations with honour would be too much to hope for I suppose?

  23. Blow in

    Talk about a mad max scenario when oil runs out…..most of the roads and drivers are border line mad max already, you would be insane even contemplating getting on a bicycle on these roads.

    There is a company in Dublin “GreenAer” importing electric cars called a Reva from India they look great http://www.greenaer.ie They cost 12500 euros and have a top speed of 80km/h and a range of 80km it takes 2 hours to recharge with annual running costs of 406 euros all in.

    Is it not time to buy shares in Uranium or any commodity for that matter?

    I think a good motto for Ireland would be a quote from a Jimmy Morrison song ” I just want to have my kicks before the whole shit house goes up in flames” he he i am only messing.

  24. AndrewGMooney

    Amsterdam vs Bejing? Remember when there were no cars in Bejing? It doesn’t matter what we do if the Chinese follow our outdated and unsustainable examples whether on transport, refrigeration or dam technology.

    There’s nothing to stop tram lines being overlaid on existing arterial roads. In Brum I remember my Dad telling me he arrived from Ireland and was confused why they were ripping up the tram-lines. Guess what? Birmingham plans to relay them on the same roads!

    Why can’t you have a tram from outlying areas to the Luas with punitive fares for single car users?

    In London in the 1980s ‘Red Ken’ Livingston had a ‘vision’ thing called ‘fares fair’ to try and stop grid-lock, he was dismissed as a Communist, probably still is even though his Congestion Charge has been begrudingly accepted.

    Thatcherite short-term ‘economic necessity’ laid waste over 300 years of coal reserves in the UK, which, with Carbon Capture and Storage Technology would see us through the next millenium. We’re actually re-opening pits! Oh, the bitter-sweet irony…..


    Shouldn’t we be giving this tech to the Chinese for free? Why do we send them our plastic to burn to avoid the cost of EU protocols in desposing of it here?

    Why is Detroit a wasteland instead of producing something other than a a car that Americans can run on $10 a gallon gas. Yes it’s coming! See how much that Hummer is worth in 2010, y’all!

    Shell pull out of world-largest Thames wind-farm due to UK gov’t intransigence over ‘obscene profits’. Is there an opp for Eire?

    ‘authentic’ Victoriana sash windows: Ban them, mandate triple glazing

    The-Original-Ed: Oi is an issue for fertilisers and industrial productions more than it is for transport, you can’t have ‘nuclear’ pesticides as far as I know! And ditto for GM: ‘organic’ food means billions die in a Malthusian population scenario.

    idiottje: the bee thing is really scary, Einstein?


    Anyone who’s travelled sees that Ireland looks to the West (America) more than to the East (UK/EU), that’s for a whole host of historical reasons. I can’t see any cultural imperative to change, there’s too much invested in the national psyche.

    Heresy as it is: Ireland’s future lies in ever closer trading and cultural bonds with the East (UK/EU) rather than the West-USA.
    It’s grim but inevitable news regarding Dell moving to the new Ireland known as Poland. Here in the UK, there’s now uproar cause all the cheap Polish labour is going home for the Polish boom! How times change….


  25. Paul

    Part of me wants the oil to run out, just to see what the world is like.

  26. Ian


    I don’t know if you watched the RTE News last night. I am referring to the protests in Mayo against the withdrawal of cancer services in that county. I suspect that the reason why Dutch people are able to cycle frequently is many of those Dutch people live in high-density, well-planned cities/towns where there are sufficient economies of scale to provide all essential services such that the vast majority of Dutch people are living no more than 5-10 km of hospitals, schools, universities etc. Given that many Irish people have a strong reluctance to live in high-density housing schemes, major decisions are going to confront Irish people with regard to their life-style choices. Do they want Dutch-style residential accommodation with all essential services within spitting distances or do they want to live in relative isolation away from these services? When the oil runs out, they will have to make that choice. The Dubliners who escaped to rural idylls in Meath and beyond may find themselves in exactly the same scenario as those people in Mayo.

  27. John Q. Public

    Ian, I watched RTE last night and saw do-gooder Liz O’Donnell in Africa. This year the Irish state is going to pay 900,000,000 euros to aid in Africa and this is to increase to 1.4 billion euros in the coming years. Aren’t we great!
    In a country where we support enough Africans through welfare is it not time we said enough is enough. We criticise the government for wasting money but this is a joke. We have our own poverty, educational, infrastructure and health service problems so why can’t we cut back on this outflow of essential tax generated cash and save ourselves? It is our money after all so before anybody infers that I am a racist (not for the first time), just think of all those old ladies on trolleys in hospital corridors and schools with holes in the roof.
    Back in the 80′s Alan Dukes used to use all of the tax intake just to service the national debt. Today the tax intake is decreasing while overseas aid is increasing which shows the state’s social conscience and priorities are focused elsewhere, where the sun don’t shine to be more accurate.
    So in a country like our’s where it doesn’t shine so much, let’s fix our own holes in the roof first because it might be too late when the economic rainy season arrives.

  28. aidan

    We need a new backbone for our electricity system (probably nuclear in some form but lets research it properly) and supplement it renewables. (All renewables would be great but unlikely; It would take 12 ardnacrushas to just replace moneypoint for example). A big problem here is the new age/pseudo green lobby who are dominating the debate and don’t understand the difference between a mW and a MW. They really want to believe theres enough energy in Irelands grassland to power (and feed) cities but dont trust engineering (or indeed most proper sciences)”

    I fully agree with this i think the greens could do more harm than fianna fail, i think the power grid under renewables and gas would be very unstable, it is way too dependant on russian gas, i think this idea should only be a runner if this country finds its own substantial gas fields, moneypoint which always receives heavy criticism is the backbone of our grid and has been for 25 years, i think we should be building another moneypoint even if running it at under capacity, if renewables can supply the power then great, if not at least we have a reliable back up, plenty of friendly countries will supply us with coal. As for public transport, i think an awful lot of demolition would have to happen to put a proper rail and commuter trains into dublin, you need commuter lines and intercity lines like you see in other major cities. This means you need four or five lines running into connolly and heuston, how can you put these in when the land is all built on along the existing lines, you would also have to expand these stations or build new stations with new lines running into the city, the only way to do this is substantial compulsory purchase and demolition, are our politicians up to this

  29. This is a cry for help David in connection with your article in the independent 30/4/08 please reply………….

    I bought a franchise as a family business to specialise in Electric bicycles, motorcycles & ultimately cars.

    We used our SSIA money to do this instead of buying a new car or going on holiday; my son is now doing his leaving cert & has applied to study renewable energy because of what we are doing at home, something that 2 years ago was miles from his mind.

    We have customers of every description right across the country, but we wanted to be more that a bike shop so we set about becoming the specialists in this field & introducing schemes that exist Europe, like cycle to work schemes.

    I approached SEI & was sent away “we have no transport policy” that’s what I was told
    I approached every local authority in the country. No reply from any of them.
    I got local td’s to get me into local authority so I could put my proposals forward. I succeeded in getting meetings at the highest levels but have been given the run-around since, by way of ignoring me.
    I got my proposals hand delivered to Eamon Ryan, John Gormley & other TD’s on numerous occasions & I have never been contacted by phone or letter.

    EXAMPLE: Limerick CC spent 100,000’s on a new STATE OF THE ART office complex 5 years ago, not one person cycles to work, they don’t even have a bike shed, I agreed to erect the shed, give safety training, give demo days for electric bikes as well as many other things.

    Please visit our web site http://WWW.goeco.ie

    Everyone we meet loves our bikes, we have electric motorbikes on the way, we have the latest bike roof systems to help with our weather that they have in Europe & big plans for the future, but we are banging our heads against brick walls with the powers that be.

    I need a forum to vent my views with some support please. I would love to tell you the whole story not just a snippet like this.

    Thank you for your time, keep up the work & pressure, I love to see you involved in subjects the way only you do…

    Kind Regards
    Marty And Paul
    087 6950044
    061 381427

  30. GOM

    Marty, have you also looked at politics.ie as a forum to vent? Not saying it will do any good but I know many councillors and other participants across the political spectrum debate there and use it to some extent as a sentiment indicator – it sounds to me like you have a great product but no infrastructural support which is a killer of a situation to be in and very frustrating. You should also try talking to some of the University innovation centres – with direct connections into the academics they can link you to the ones who have energy research programmes underway and may be facing some of the same challenges and how they are overcoming them. Many of these academics have also been on think-tanks and taskforces for the government to advise on these issues so may have ueful insights into why you are getting the run around.

  31. b

    Writing to any of the Greenies is like writing to Santa. Santa would reply quicker though and maybe give a more thoughtful and useful answer.

  32. Malcolm McClure

    David: You are blaming the pig for the shit in the sittingroom while the dog is standing there wagging its tail.
    The oil crisis is not based on a diminishing resource base (I have good reason to know that there is still plenty left to exploit). It is simply and solely due to politics, exacerbated by greed.
    The Fundamental (capital F) cause of the Middle East crisis is the Old Testament and all the tribal delusions of grandeur it has engendered.
    The Greeks and Romans were wary of religiosity but unable to deal with it. If western civilization fails to tackle the current root of the problem, (another small state beginning with I) then we’ll all decline and fall into a renewal of the Dark Ages.

  33. Declan

    Hi David,
    Your article is once again very insightful! I wish some of our politicians were listening!
    I fully agree that many of the new road projects are useful but a proper planning and public transport developments would position us better for the future!
    Once again we have numerous individuals that believe we should go the nuclear route as a solution. I know that you may be sympathic towards ideals like this. but basically people sould be reminded that this is not a sustainable source for the future, it too is in limited supply. Essentially we would move from one source of energy additiction to another source of energy addiction. To top it off we would have to find a way to dispose of the nuclear waste.
    None of this comes cheap, it really isn’t a proper sustainable solution! We have abundant sources of wind and wave energy that is still vurtually untapped as yet. As one of your other posts suggested also Hydro Electric power. We have the potential to develope and use hydrogen cell technology. Energy production from waste produce, bio mass energy and last but not least solar energy.
    There is no shortage of sustainable and safe energy here in Ireland. It is just a case of people opening their eyes to the inevitable and starting to provide for the future!

  34. Whatever Ireland does about sources of electricity, please, be aware:


  35. The range of comments about how and why Ireland plans infrastructure poorly etc are interesting. I don’t think it helps to blame the public service or political figures. The public service is full of highly capable but underperforming and hugely frustrated people, just like any other hierarchy. And like all hierarchies, personal survival of the leadership is as important as corporate missions, particularly given the career-limiting effects of attempting to change an established status quo.
    There have been big improvements in Irish wealth levels across the board in the last 20 years mostly due to foreign direct investment. The FDI happened through a combination of serendipity, some courageous policy changes and bloody hard work by those involved in selling the proposition to the US client companies. Unfortunately the vast majority of FDI jobs are technical/engineering/marketing. They relate to the commercialisation and realisation stages of US-originated ventures, while the innovative R&D, product and process engineering and financial engineering work – the crown jewels – remain beyond our grasp. Although Irish FDI jobs require tough professional degree-level quals as a minimum, these are predominantly modern-day blue-collar jobs with poor financial prospects and little future in Ireland. Our people knows this very well — market research has shown that while college students verbally espouse the importance of ‘more investment in science and innovation’ to Ireland’s future as a ‘knowledge economy’, they in fact prefer to opt for commerce, law, medicine, pharma and accounting studies. They fear commoditisation and prefer to join the ranks of professions whose representative associations control accreditation, such as law, dentistry, medicine.
    The strategising that led to FDI is by far the greatest economic achievement of the public bodies concerned. Naturally people are unwilling to abandon this success story and the development priorities that led to it and they won’t budge from policies such as bankrolling Science Foundation Ireland to stuff money at academic researchers. Despite the fact that the days of FDI for Ireland are drawing to a close and the fact that boosting academic R&D has very little to do with innovation. Low levels of innovation are, of course, our root problem and both EU and Irish statistics bear this out.
    Perhaps due to the lack of a technological history, what is missing in Ireland is an informed understanding of mass entrepreneurial and inventive activity. The property-related lure of 20% returns for little effort was an unfortunate distraction at a time when experienced FDI salarymen could have been taking baby steps into the world of innovation and finding their feet.
    Now we are going to have to learn how to innovate fast, to safeguard the economic gains that have been made. This can happen but I don’t look to our many state quango’s for leadership, for the very human reasons I mentioned. The alternative for many returned émigré’s including myself is a return to the Silicon Fen/Valley/Glen where sustainable wealth-creation is better established.

  36. Philip

    Was thinking about those green electric cars and bikes. The cost per energy unit KWh is actually no better than a car – in fact, even worse. Take your electric car from greenaer. Gives you about 15Kw for about 1.5 hrs and you cover 80kms. Cost to recharge about 20Kwh-25kwh of energy is about 3-4 Euro. Any old Diesel car has a far greater range and speed will do 80kms to the gallon (sorry for mixing me imperials with me metrics) which is a little under 6 Euro. For that 6 Euro I move 5 people with great comfort at about 100km/hr. More telling is that was about 70Kwh of energy. Cost per Kwh of Electricity is 17c. With a modern car it’s about 9c.

    Of course the response- quiet correctly – that generating all that power output is needless/ wasteful and I should focus on the cost per journey. True enough. But there are petrol / diesel engined cars about to come out that will be much smaller which are about to be released very soon. Citroen, Renault and I think Mitsubishi and Honda…small engined low emission jobbies. And they keep you warm in winter.

    The big downer here is that our primary energy comes from the ESB’s crude oil burner in Poolbeg for Dublin city. So when you think you are doing the environment a favour by going electric, you really burning more black stuff. Nukes make sense here. But even if they gave the green light today, you’d have to wait 8-10 years and if you lucky we might have another 40 yrs of uranium after that. Fusion etc is lah lah land stuff for now. An interconnector to the UK is the only alternative and that should be dimensioned to export green generated energy to Europe assuming we get tidal & wind going (which is probably 10-20 years away).

    I suppose what I am saying here is we cannot avoid fuel oil in the next 10-20 years. We just need to use a lot less of it. And do not knock biofuels…from compost digesters etc. (waste food, cow poo etc.) no biofuel crops! I cannot see how electricity for small motive power applications will be a practical route unless we can beat the ESB conversion efficiency and futhermore it adds nothing to the environment to have electric vehicles as long as the ESB is burning oil.

    My liking for electric cars and bikes is silence and power source flexibility. But they do not suit the commute style of society just now. Suggest they should be available for rental in the city by credit card/internet ordering. Dutch are looking at one such system – see http://www.springerlink.com/content/ht3680r65v817453/

  37. Johnny Dunne

    David, putting things in perspective FF have committed to spending €34 billion with Transport 21 from 2006 to 2015, it’s been reportred the spend is equivalent to over €100 per second – the price of a bike! If we set aside the budget for 1 day a year, this would fund 100,000 bikes to be provided ‘free of charge’ as suggested….I’m sure the likes of Minister Eamonn Ryan would support this type of intiiative ?

  38. shtove

    X, it sounds like you’ve experienced Joyce’s pain in dealing with Ireland – the sow that eats its own farrow.

    Dealing with Irish professionals is a nightmare. They focus purely on their cut, and often bring very little expertise to the deal. Fcuk em.

    The article is very good. But a lot of the price rises we’re seeing are caused by speculators looking at the ridiculous debasement of the dollar and deciding to get out of paper assets and in to the hard stuff. The rises will partly reverse soon enough, and any urgency over sustainable energy use will dissipate. Paddy can then get back to his pint and ignore all this european fancy stuff.

  39. Garry

    “I suppose what I am saying here is we cannot avoid fuel oil in the next 10-20 years. We just need to use a lot less of it. And do not knock biofuels…from compost digesters etc. (waste food, cow poo etc.) no biofuel crops! I cannot see how electricity for small motive power applications will be a practical route unless we can beat the ESB conversion efficiency and futhermore it adds nothing to the environment to have electric vehicles as long as the ESB is burning oil”

    agree with most of this, On the electric cars/ESB vs petrol/diesel cars, Im not 100% sure about this as burning the oil centrally gives the opportunity to handle emissions centrally. Of course electric vehicle technology has its own impacts when scaling up production. Thats why I continue to believe we need an EU wide project for climate change, food security and energy security, put the best minds on the continent towards modelling and finding solutions.

    “Once again we have numerous individuals that believe we should go the nuclear route as a solution. I know that you may be sympathic towards ideals like this. but basically people sould be reminded that this is not a sustainable source for the future, it too is in limited supply. Essentially we would move from one source of energy additiction to another source of energy addiction. To top it off we would have to find a way to dispose of the nuclear waste.
    None of this comes cheap, it really isn’t a proper sustainable solution! We have abundant sources of wind and wave energy that is still vurtually untapped as yet. As one of your other posts suggested also Hydro Electric power. ”

    You seem to have a certainty that nuclear is not needed. Please have a look at the electricity usage for Ireland (google it, theres an EU report) and also have a look at the wind generation graphs on eirgrid. Power output from wind varies wildly, several 100 MW sometimes, sometimes almost nothing. Many Turlough Hills (or buying nuclear power from abroad) could be used to ‘smooth’ the power outputs but there are very complex technical and indeed financhial issues to resolve with that approach. Hydro is capable of only giving us 100 more MW at best. Wave has some potential. I really would like the anti-nuclear brigade to provide data that renewables can power the 24/7/365 several TW demand that the country needs without an oil backbone.
    Im neither pro nor anti nuclear but I believe all options should be on the table. No solution will be perfect, producing power at this level has environmental impacts. The probability of radioactivity leakage vs the certainty of emissions depending on the technology. (Of course nuclear is not emission free but produces considerably less emissions)

    I think statements like “we have abundant sources of ….” have very limited usefulness. The Easter Islanders had similar abundant sources of energy and much smaller energy needs yet were not able to solve their problems after they chopped down the last of their trees. That may be just as facile an argument as yours; we do have a lot more knowledge and engineering capability that they had. But that capability will need to be coordinated and deployed on the problem.

  40. Julian Arnold


    I always appreciate your articles and blogs. Majority of the time I agree with your synopses but on this occasion, I respectfully disagree for the following reason.

    With regard to your position on the world’s oil reserves running out or what swampy and his eco-nuts will refer to as ‘peak oil’, peak oil is a scam designed to create artificial scarcity and jack up prices while giving the state an excuse to invade our lives and order us to sacrifice our hard-earned living standards.

    Publicly available information such as the Club of Rome strategy manuals from 30 years ago say that a global government needs to control the world population through neo-feudalism by creating artificial scarcity. Now that the social architects have de-industrialised countries like the United States, they are going to blame economic disintegration on lack of energy supplies.

    Globalisation is all about consolidation. Now that the world economy has become so centralised through the Globalist’s operations, they are going to continue to consolidate and blame it on the West’s “evil” over consumption of fossil fuels, while at the same time blocking the development and integration of renewable clean technologies.
    In other words, peak oil is a scam to create artificial scarcity and drive prices up. Meanwhile, alternative fuel technologies which have been around for decades are intentionally suppressed.

    Peak oil is a theory advanced by the elite, by the oil industry, by the very people that you would think peak oil would harm, unless it was a cover for another agenda. Which from the evidence of artificial scarcity being deliberately created, the reasons for doing so and who benefits, it’s clear that peak oil is a myth and it should be exposed for what it is. Another excuse for the Globalists to seize more control over our lives and sacrifice more of our sovereignty and independence in the meantime.

    If we continue to let the corrupt elite tell us we are wholly dependent on oil, we may reach a twisted situation whereby they can justify starvation and mass global poverty, perhaps even depopulation, even within the western world due to the fact that our energy supplies are finished.
    Peak oil is just another weapon the globalists have in their arsenal to move towards a new world order where the elite get richer and everyone else falls into line.

  41. Maxdiver

    Regarding Peak-oil.

    Peak-oil concerns the peak in our oil production.
    Once we hit the peak we will enevitably see a drop-off in rates.
    The only way we can avoid this is by increasing production – but that only postpones the peak.

    People who say that peak-oil is fantasy are like the people who were (last year) encouraging the property market. Some have axes to grind or are just a bit nuts – choosing the evidence that they want and consider everything else as being propaganda.
    (Believe me – i did the same for the house price bubble)

    The only real questions are:
    When will oil production peak (that isn’t all that important) and
    What will we do about it (the big question)

    More importantly is the question of – if global demand outpaces supply (both afterall are growing but one faster than the other) – what is the outcome? – higher prices, competition and (we will see) supply constraints.

    Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to these easy answers.

  42. John Q. Public

    Good on ya SpinstaSista! He’s not the only moron on this site that knows nothing and has no fully formed opinions of his own. I hope Alex Jones gives Julian Arnold a bollicking for this but he is nothing but a conspiracy theorist anyway, arrested once for operating a bullhorn without a permit.

  43. andrew


    i recommend Canada. there is a good mix of entrepreneurism, social responsibility, and forward thinking.

    Canada has a stable political and social climate and is a great place to do business.

    I will no doubt be relocating there ( i am a canadian living in Dublin). For all the tax i pay in this country i cannot get my son the medical care he needs.

  44. Julian Arnold

    Glad to see there’s so much open mindedness and objectivity here on this site.

  45. Garry

    Julian, The global conspiracy argument doesn’t stack up on so many levels. But it does have an appeal to our ‘something for nothing/get rich quick generation’ … it gives us the easy way out… we can say “its all ‘their’ fault.”

    The elite dont need a secret society to guide policy and make up science as you describe; its neither practical nor necessary. …If a shift occurs whether its good (travel, computing, medicine etc) or bad (flooding, crop shortages, disease etc) rich people be able to take advantage of it or at least escape the worst of its consequences. To conspiracy theorists, this is often mistaken as incredible long range planning or even engineering the situation in the first place. Money gives the ability to react quickly and not to have to plan everything, rich people often appear smarter than they are!
    Remember the global elite aren’t one homogeneous group …you and I are part of the global elite in the eyes of the majority of the worlds population. Funny I didn’t spot you at the meeting where we killed the electric car! Damm Toyota we neither another meeting to sort them out :)

    sure there are cases where companies shut down potential future threats or manipulate policy. And transnational corporations are ultimately only looking out for their next quarter profits. But its one thing to say that, quite another to say theres an organized global conspiracy to drive up oil and food prices and induce famine.

    As regards the rumors of cheap limitless renewable energy that were suppressed decades ago, don’t you think that theres enough money to be made now to bring them into use? These days you don’t even have to build it, just patent it, license it and watch the money roll in. Much easier than the messy business of tidying up after a famine.

    I suspect Julian you’ll stay with your beliefs and good luck with them…. We’ll just have to agree to differ unless you have a few blueprints for those renewable technologies. Then I’ll change my mind

  46. Julian Arnold


    I appreciate your comments, a breath of fresh air and I thank you for sharing your viewpoint. My position isn’t normally as politically charged, I rarely post on any forums of a political nature. I agree not all wealthy business-people are that conscientious but neither are all of them out to pillage all they can (Bill Gates?). My only real reservation of late is that if we go to far to the left, particularly eco-left, we will smother the creative energy and business acumen we’re going to need if we are going to progress human kind without wrecking the planet in the process.

    Thanks again Garry.


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