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An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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15 Feb 2006

Peak Oil Hits Primetime Irish Evening Radio.

rte**Five Seven Live** is RTE’s main evening radio news programme. Until now peak oil hadn’t really featured in the Irish media at all, but all of a sudden here we are, a weeklong series of articles on the subject, featuring Colin Campbell, Matt Simmons and other peak oil luminaries. The presenter, Philip Boucher-Hayes did an excellent job of condensing this complex subject into five 8 minute pieces. He really got under the skin of the issue, and didn’t shy away from telling it like it is. I was especially struck by the fact that this programme goes out to millions in Ireland, most of whom are in their cars on the way home from work (although I was always more of a Last Word man myself). This was powerful stuff, it didn’t pull any punches, and it set out the scale of the challenges Ireland faces.

rte1Ireland, despite its image of being the Emerald Isle, has, thanks to the Celtic Tiger boom years, become the 7th most oil dependent nation in the world (the US ranks 30th). It has built a new economy entirely on cheap oil, and is at the end of a very long pipeline. It also has no strategic reserves of gas. The UK keeps 11 days in reserve, and that is considered precarious, Ireland, the programme revealed, has none.

The programme trailed a report by Amarach Consulting which was commissioned by the Government that is due to report at the end of the month, which will look at the impacts of peak oil on Ireland. In effect it will be Ireland’s Hirsch Report, and I understand that Hirsch himself was involved with it in a consultancy role. The report is going to be dynamite, and I would love to be a fly on the wall in TDs (Irish Members of Parliament) offices when they arrive. Ireland is in a very difficult position, it has no indigenous fuel sources to speak of and a high degree of dependency.

I will report more on the document when it is released. It could turn out to be one of the most important documents ever produced in the country. I highly recommend these shows, they are enlightening for the new comer, and for the hardened ‘peaknik’ there is still plenty to hold your attention and to find out about.

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Mark O'S
15 Feb 11:44am

Hi Rob,

A great series. The Irish times had an editorial on Peak oil a few weeks ago, which paved the way for this 5-7 live series. The Sunday Business Post had an article last Sunday too.

The late Roberta Grey was the first mainstream Irish journalist to break the PO story in the Sunday Tribune almost two years ago. Very precient by anyone’s standards.

Ireland does have indidgenous energy sources in wind, biomass and tidal power. The sugar beet industry has yet to cop on to the huge short term opportunity they have in the energy market. The dairies are already making ethanol from milk whey and Glanbia representatives were at Fuelling the Future as part of the decision process to take this strategy further.

There is also turf which has been a staple for millennia. Admittedly though none of these are developed to deliver energy in anything like the quantities which oil/gas currently delivers.

Recently, Eammon Ryan (a speaker at Fuelling the Future) of the Greens proposed an all-party consensus on energy strategy for Ireland, saying that it was too important an issue for partisan sqabbling. The opposition of Fine Gael and Labour rejected this, however. Something they may come to regret.

17 Feb 1:16pm

Hi Rob,

I’m astonished to find Ireland is more oil dependant than the US. Where do those stats come from?


17 Feb 1:46pm

Funnily enough Gareth, you aren’t the first person to ask this! I don’t know the exact source for the table, although I do remember seeing it once, but the reference comes from ‘Before the Wells Run Dry’ produced by FEASTA and edited by Richard Douthwaite, page 27. The author, Gerard O’Neill doesn’t cite the orginal reference. You can read the whole book online at the [FEASTA]( site, and the exact page [here](“O’Neill”)

If anyone finds the original reference I’d love to know.

28 Mar 8:55pm

I am astounded to see so much Irish-based education and research on this topic, which I am only just learning about now.

Was expecting to become a ‘returned yank’ in order to protect the kids from a [projected] ‘long war’ US draft. Then when I learned of peak oil economics, I thought Ireland might serve a haven from that as well. Now I am not so sure that is a good enough plan. Thanks for this latest info.

Besides the PO, what climate changes will Ireland be expected to undergo with the advent of global warming, rising sea levels and changes [if any] in the north atlantic current?