North Sea Oil. So 1999.

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Over successive election campaigns, if you listened to the SNP you'd think Scotland's seas were brimming with fish and oil. However, the numbers tell a different story, especially on oil. Output peaked in 1999, and it's since down about 58% (the arrow on the graph to the left actually points to 2010, for reference).

Unlike properly protected fish stocks, not that we have those, it's simply a finite resource. As Robin said in the chamber today, it's like a pint of beer. The glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it, the quicker it's gone. The difference is that you can't just go back to the bar for another one.

And the prices will rise and rise. In 2004 the BBC ran a good story about the issue, given contemporary worries about the $40 barrel. Now we're at $120, and predictions of $200 seem almost cautious. The $500 predictions for 2015 also seem pretty realistic, depending on how badly the American economy tanks and takes us all with it.

Whether it's Scotland's oil or the UK's oil, though, given that there's less and less of it all the time I think it'd be great if we used the last dregs of it to help make ourselves independent of oil (as opposed to the 20th century strivings for independence based on oil). A kind of Apollo Programme for clean energy. A Marshall Plan for public transport. A Manhattan Project for insulation.. no, wait..

Anyway, today we have good news. Today all the parties in the Scottish Parliament agreed to a Green amendment that says we need to take account of peak oil when planning food strategies. I'm just not sure how many in the other parties understand how radical that might be, the costs of failing to do so, or the opportunities a relocalised economy could bring. But yet again we now have the perfect way to hold the SNP to account.

Also, here's one more prediction. The media will ignore it completely tomorrow.

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This page was published on May 1, 2008 5:35 PM.

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