Xtraspatial's take on CNN's "We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis"

I watched CNN Presents last nite because I just love their "news" reporting. NOT!!!

I watched because they aired an hour piece (of what, I'll let you decide) on a scenario whereby the combination of a Category 5 hurricane and a terrorist attack on the Abqaiq oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia brings the world to its collective knees some 40 months from now.

At the behest of another Peak Oil group in the area (Hudson-Mohawk Socio-Economic Collaborative), I wrote a critique of the show as feedback for CNN. Here it is:

Your CNN Presents "We were warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis" presented the two most catastrophic possible events that could bring about a global resource crisis: a Class 5 Hurricane hitting a mega-refinery complex (Houston) and a terrorist attack on Saudi production facilities. While these events might create the 2009 you theorized about, there is a much more insidious and irreversible set of circumstances that is creating the crisis over a more protracted, yet tangible, timeline: The peaking of petroleum production for the world's super-giant oil fields (Ghawar, Cantrell, Abqaiq, etc.). Collectively referred to as "Peak Oil," the declines in the productivity of these (and other) fields, coupled with our inability to discover, let alone ramp up production of, new super-giant fields is creating "Tomorrow's Oil Crisis" not in the future at the hands of Mother Earth or Al Qaeda, but rather right now, and collectively, we are doing frightfully little to exacerbate it!

I understand that in order to inform the vast majority of its viewers--who are unlikely to inform themselves by reading Matt Simmon's "Twilight in the Desert," or Julian Darley's "High Noon of Natural Gas"--CNN must resort to phenomenal events rather than the marginal effects of demand finally exceeding supply. Your feature is akin to "throwing the frog into boiling water." You may get the frog to jump out to save itself, whereas by gently turning up the heat while the frog swims about you may get a cooked frog, oblivious to its incipient demise. But to ignore the gradual (vs. catastrophic) effects of continued global industrialization and debt-based economies with their concomitant growth imperatives is to miss the likelihood that when these cataclysmic events fail to materialize, our systems revert to business as usual, and your show will be remembered as the disaster that never happened, if it is remembered at all.

CNN would have done your viewers more service by informing them of the phenomenon of resource depletion, the non-substitutability of petroleum for fertilizer production and aviation fuel, and the consequences of building a suburban infrastructure that is proving to be unsustainable. Portraying an oil crisis as a discrete set of events without looking at the inter-relationships of supply, demand, geology of finite resource extraction, social injustices of resource wars, and the true costs of globalization, is to pander to fear, naiveté, and ignorance. A great opportunity was missed to inform us that the rug is being pulled out from underneath us now, and through our tolerance of the same, we can expect only what Jim Kunstler terms "The Long Emergency."

I look forward to a more in-depth analysis of the present oil crisis by CNN with less sensationalism and more projections of how the status quo is sinking us deeper into resource-based conflict, worldwide famine, and global environmental and ecological degradation. CNN’s biggest obstacle for such a show will be finding sponsors for it, since, other than wind turbine and photovoltaic solar panel manufacturers, no one makes money on forecasting our inevitable energy and lifestyle transition.

I guess any publicity for our cause is better than none at all. But we've got some educating to do...

You, too, can submit an analysis or comment to CNN.

Jim Zack, Sustainable Saratoga Springs