Sunday, November 30, 2014

Peak Oil: does the CIA know?

Years ago, at an international conference on peak oil, I met Michael Ruppert, who later became known for his investigations of the 9/11 attacks. He told me that in the audience, that day, there were a few CIA agents whom he personally knew.

I had no way to check Ruppert's statement, but, on the whole, it made sense to me. The CIA, after all, is an "intelligence" agency and their main purpose is to collect data. So, the fact that some CIA people were attending a meeting on peak oil didn't mean that they thought we were dangerous subversives. They were simply doing their job: collecting data about peak oil; a dangerous economic and political problem (or maybe both things..... Who knows?)

Over the years, I have occasionally wondered about what the Central Intelligence Agency may know about peak oil. They surely have lots of data on crude oil, including data that for us - common citizens - are not available. In principle, they could do a much better job than the ragtag group of geologists and physicists forming the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO). The same is true for climate change; another dangerous worldwide problem. And they don't just have knowledge, they have power. So, could they be acting in some way on these problems?

Alas, every time I asked myself this question, I came to the conclusion that - no - there is no such a thing as a hidden force understanding and acting on the global problems of oil depletion and climate change. No matter what mysterious powers we attribute to the CIA - or to any other of the many shady government agencies charged with "intelligence" collection - my impression is that we deal with an oxymoron. There is no trace of intelligence in their actions - at least in the sense of tackling global serious and long term problems.

My impression is that the problem is that we simply don't know how to manage very large organizations, and that all large organizations tend to flounder in a mess of bureaucracy, individual interests, compartimentalization, power games, infighting and more. In the case of the CIA, these problems are compounded by the fact that everything is shrouded in secrecy. Recently, I stumbled on an article which describes the CIA mode of operation; seemingly from first hand experience. I have no way to check whether the person who uses the nickname of "Shellback" is reliable. However, on the whole, his interpretation fits well with my recent experience with the European Parliament, another huge, bureaucratic, and fragmented organization which seems to be unable to process information in any rational way. And that spells big trouble when we deal with global problems such as peak oil and climate change.

Below, you can find Shellback's article from "The Russian Insider" - Let me repeat that I have no way to tell how reliable Shellback's statements are and the fact that I am reproducing this article doesn't mean that I agree with what Shellback says. I am just passing it to readers as as something that may be interesting to understand how large organizations function. 


From "The Russian Insider"

The Severe, and Maybe Fatal, Handicaps of US Intelligence

Obsession with personalities
Over-impressed by collection techniques
Often re-written to conform to expectations


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)