Peak Oil and Social Media Monitoring

Read an chilling article in Climate Change today onPeak oil production coming sooner than expected where Media, public, governments unprepared for the End of the World (As We Know It).

Thinking about peak oil production (not enough crude oil to meet our needs ongoing) AND global warming together with population growth (that is driving both up)  [ this is beginning to look like a Boolean equation – writing them so often – one can get to see life itself as a Boolean equation].

Source: Sweetnam, DOE, April 2009

I did a search using Sysomos MAP and refined my query a few times – realizing that, as in many things, finding the right way to search for something is not easy and usually, can be improved – and is often best done as a group project (more minds are better with this).

Having said that (and not having a group to take this query on) I tried to figure out what kind of information am I looking for – the main point of the article is that till now governments were unwilling to admit peak oil had happened (the world may have reached peak oil production in 2008) but now … they are – though very cautiously (with officials of UK and US governments not wanting to officially say anything – but unofficially – word seems to be leaking out – see the excerpt below)

From “Tin Hat” Theory to “Crikey!” In the last few months, there has been a sea change in attitudes about global oil supply among top officials.  The UK government, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command, among others, have begun to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.

The entire world economy is built on cheap oil,  A permanent oil production shortage will thus lead to The End of The World (As We Know It).  What will come on the other side of this — will it be good or bad?

Public Unaware. Except for a few stories in financial pages such as London’s Financial Times, this earth-shaking news has yet to reach the Mainstream Media.  While “Peak Oil” researchers have long warned of approaching oil shortages, the difference now is these dire warnings are being validated by the highest government and oil company officials.  Yet, no political leader has had the courage to make a major announcement to prepare the public for what lies ahead.

This public blindness is tantamount to the isolationism that gripped the U.S. in the years preceding WWII.  While the highest government leaders did their best to prepare for inevitable war, they were hamstrung by the resistance of a public unable to accept what really lay ahead.  Similar to today, some politicians advanced their own careers by feeding on the public’s desire to believe no coming storm could ever reach them.  Yet, the storm came anyway.

From a social media monitoring perspective – what kind of query could we write that would even show weather the first point is true – are governments now willing to “unofficially” talk about “peak oil”?

oil AND shortage AND (Barrel OR gallon) AND (government OR governments OR department)

We do see a lot of attention paid to “peak oil” in 2008, and there has continued to be some conversation about it – but not at the levels of mid 2008.  It would be nice to use social media monitoring tools to derive insight in questions such as “have we really reached peak oil production in 2008″ but I suspect in order to answer that question, to even attempt to answer it, take some serious and prolonged thinking and analysis (brainstorming) – time I don’t have to spend here – but something that is well worth looking at (even if we can’t really do anything about it – the issues are beyond anyone being able to move the needle here).

“peak oil” AND shortage AND (Barrel OR gallon) AND (government OR governments OR department)

Once I focused on “peak oil” I had far less to look at – though I suspect, it would be much easier to make a case one way or another with the second query than with the first one.

The problem is – before we monitor anything we have to come to two points.

  1. Find a point of view and then look for confirmation, one way or the other.
  2. Do general “research” without really trying to find anything in particular while hoping to uncover something new and potentially important that we haven’t yet considered.

I think  – we need to do both – and be willing to spend time on it.   I guess – if this particular issue – “peak oil” is happening – the results will be clear enough … soon enough.

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