A clash of cultural stories

by | Jul 17, 2008

Thanks to the Oil Drum‘s Peak Oil Media Watch I recently came across this fascinating video clip from the “Fast Money” programme on American business news channel CNBC. In the extract the studio panel are discussing the rise in oil prices and – as is the show’s theme – how to make money from it.

Their studio guest is Joe Terranova, who appears to be a typical energy investment type (though with an incredibly expressive face!), but their phone linkup is to Matthew Simmons, Chairman of Simmons & Company International Ltd, who is one of the very few high-profile figures to have predicted the current oil price rises, and who has been raising the peak oil issue for some years now. The mismatch in their perspectives is spectacular, especially from 4 minutes in.

I can’t make a better comment on this than that made by the ever-insightful Nate Hagens:

The CNBC video is a prime example of the juxtaposition of people’s time horizons and boundaries. Simmons eloquently outlined the bigger picture of that society is facing dramatic institutional and structural change, and then the conversation was brought directly back to short term profits. June highs mean July lows, etc.

The reason there is no international, national, or regional body looking at WIDE boundary SYSTEMS analysis is that there is no money in it. If the markets are designed to produce profits measured in dollars, how will the markets solve problems of the global commons? How can the viewers/guests on CNBC even begin to analyze the depth of this problem beyond how higher oil prices affect their portfolio allocations? There will come a day when a ‘paradigm allocation’ will leapfrog modern financial portfolio allocation. That’s why the quizzical looks on those guests faces – energy and ecology are not topics ingrained in most traders pattern recognition banks.

I can only hope that our next crop of national leaders surround themselves by wide boundary thinkers – to surround themselves by the current crop of salespeople will lessen our chances dramatically.

And I agree with PG – this is difficult to do – to present facts about the situation as best as possible while remaining positive. What if the situation is worse than even some of the pessimists predict? The sooner we close off avenues that are dead ends, the better we can save high quality resources.

Well done by Matt Simmons.


  1. Roger

    “there is relatively little understanding that the most important implications for [resistance to] change derive from the other fault, the greed syndrome, i.e., the unquestioned obsession with high level living standards and economic growth”
    ‘Ted Trainer – ‘Where do we want to be?’
    ‘ DEMOCRACY & NATURE: The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY vol.6, no.2, (July 2000)

    Greed is insidious within cultures because most will not face themselves, what they have become in relation to others of this world and to nature … most find it impossible to face the inequality of their lifestyle excepting for the disenfranchised billions who are suffering from it … not enough to change the ways of the few who believe in inordinate inequality [the destructive power wielded by the few billionaires in this world]

    The message then is that the ‘rich’ nations do not know how poor they are in themselves by their way of life that ignores the suffering of others on their behalf.

    The only power of the many is increasingly used by the few predominantly against the poor as the system finally begins its mathematically predictable descent into chaos … and if the earth is still at all habitable to anyone at that point of inexhorable failure of greed as a way of ‘life’ , then then begins the technically unecessary re-establishment of a tribal [local] community(ies?) who hopefully will have learned the lessons which are written about, but which were not enacted , in current engorged tangles of overgrown unsustainable ‘cultures’.

    The truth of our greed and disenfranchisement of the exploited ‘poor’ ironically then turns the myth of ‘progress’ into blind disaster because people are under a veil of denial about the truth about ourselves … we ‘know’ that sustainability is not an option, but do not act upon that , so we must dwindle in self-ignorace that is normal in the human self … the veil over minds cannot be broken except until the reality of destruction caused by the greed for endless ‘progress’ is seen … the seeing is believing, but also it necessitates the death of billions … blindness too is not sustainable, the veil breaks in ,for mankind, the most terrible way , making the epic words of scripture look all-too-prophetic , the end indeed described from the beginning, built into the nature of mankind that we most refuse to look at [because it is painful to look at what many people truly are]

    [The poor are the ones who are ‘rich’ in survival knowledge to be able to survive and re-establish a culture when greed has finally finished off the current ones , perhaps why the bible predicts that they will eventually inherit the earth from those who rely on our corrupt ‘economics’, the implicit ‘cult of Mammon’ in the minds of the affluent countries’ inhabitants ]

    The greed of mankind behind its veil has created ‘cultures’ that swallow all cultures that have respect for nature and community, inculcating instead faith in high technology and competition and simply ignoring the massive wars, pollution, inequality, exploitation… until the facts of unsustainability have their result …who can weep at the end of the veil , but equally who can bear the terrible saying in action at last … the wrath of the Truth about the greed in mankind?

  2. Roger

    I thought that it was more than interesting that Matt Simmons identified what few have appreciated, that the oil crisis can break USA precipitously as the banks fail .

    Also he believes that in 6-7 years one could put things straight IF there were any response to the wake-up call , but there is not …

    That is then a prediction of short-term rapid catastrophe which will catch out all the government control mechanisms since they rely on slow response to continuous change [cannot cope with sudden change and are not looking forward to predict and avoid it]]


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