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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wrong Numbers, episode 200,000,000,000

There was I, last night, driving home, my car consuming fossil fuel, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, when Radio 4's PM programme had an item about Russia's (supposedly) vast oil reserves.

I didn't catch the reporter's name, not that it matters, because the errors he committed are endemic in that formerly hallowed organisation's reporting about oil.

Not once in his report did he even mention "that which the BBC must never mention when talking about oil". No surprise, there, then. Maybe I'm getting paranoid but I've only heard one exception to that rule in the last six months, and that was from Andrew Marr a few weeks back.

Anyhow, back to the report about oil in Russia.

The reporter could scarcely conceal his joy at the prospect that Russia may have up to 200 billion barrels of exploitable oil reserves. Hooray!

(The EIA, by the way, states that Russia has around 60 billion barrels of proven reserves.)

Those 200 billion barrels are enough, he told us, to supply the world's oil needs for decades.


Current annual oil consumption is around 30 billion barrels. So Russia's reserves could fuel our oil addiction at current levels for under seven years.

Send this guy back to school for some training in simple arithmetic.


But my question is, because the Beeb isn't the only part of the mass media to prove itself incompetent, why is it so impossible to consider more than one aspect of complex problems like oil and climate change?

And why is there a taboo against mentioning climate change in the same sentence as oil?

Michael Tobis has noticed the EIA's disconnect in this regard. "I'm confused", he writes. "It's hard to know if this is wishful thinking or malice at this point". Malice, pure malice, from the lot of them :-)

Posted by Phil at 9:15 AM
Edited on: Saturday, July 12, 2008 11:36 AM
Categories: Comment, Environment, Waffle