U.S. Toyota bigwig refers to “the inevitability of peak oil”
I don’t plan these hiatuses, but they do happen anyway. Welcome back to The Teeming Brain after a two-month pause during which I felt no internal compulsion to post, and during which time I was extremely busy with other stuff anyway. I hope 2008 ended and 2009 began on a good note for everybody reading this.
To kick things back into some semblance of motion, I could talk about the editing and revising work I’ve been performing on my forthcoming book, or the professional blogging work I’ve been doing, or the other paid Web writing I’ve recently done, or my experience of teaching four college classes during the fall semester, or any number of other things.
But instead I’ll start with a revealing and recent reference to peak oil by a high-up figure in Toyota’s American wing. (You do remember that peak oil is a major preoccupation here, don’t you?)
It seems everybody is now getting in stride with the idea that peak oil is simply and undeniably a reality. This includes France’s formerly denial-oriented International Energy Agency, which made waves recently by reversing its former stance (see, for example, “IEA Radically Changes Assumptions on Peak Oil,” December 15, 2008). The Montreal Gazette ran a major cover story just yesterday titled “The Age of Oil Is Ending.” And so on. Of course, the question of whether the reality of an all-time peak in world oil production will lead to the epochal upheavals and breakdowns predicted by most peak oil theorists is still much in debate. If you’ve read The Teeming Brain for any length of time, you know my own amateur expectations. Economic upheavals have long been predicted as the opening act of the peak oil drama (and hey, I’ve been pretty accurate in knowing who to listen to for the past couple of years about the reality of impending financial-economic troubles, haven’t I?). But the question of whether we will indeed see such a peak seems to be more and more settled.
And so I’m here to offer just one tiny example of this consensus. It’s from a Bloomberg story dated yesterday (1/10/09) that reports on Toyota’s plan “to sell a tiny, battery-powered car in the U.S. by 2012 that can be recharged at electrical outlets.” What, pray tell, might be Toyota’s motivation for this? It’s stated in the opening paragraphs:
“Last summer’s $4-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly, it was a brief glimpse of our future,” Irv Miller, U.S. group vice president of environmental and public affairs for the Toyota City, Japan-based company, said in the statement today.
“We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size,” he said. “This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity.”
So there you have it. “The inevitability of peak oil” is now being openly referred to by a Toyota spokesperson. Many other examples of this are rampant. I suggest — both to you and to myself — that we begin to prepare for this Big Event both physically and psychologically, if we haven’t already done so. And I suggest — both to you and to myself — that we resolve right now, if we haven’t already done so, to become aware of the pernicious and fallacious tendency to blindly assume that the sprawling, car-based, energy-intensive, technocratic, economically globalized way of life that we have built in recent years and decades is the desirable and normal state of things that we should direct our efforts and resources toward saving.
See you soon (honestly!).