Official English translation

Last November, 2010, senior German military officers approved for release a report on Peak Oil by a team of analysts at the Bundeswehr Transformation Centre, a top-level German military think-tank. However, the original report was written in German and though it was translated by third parties, there was no official English translation. A few days ago, the Bundeswehr released an official English translation which can be downloaded directly from their site.

The existence of this report was originally leaked prior to publication by Der Spiegel last summer (see the baobab story German Military Study Warns of Potential Energy Crisis). Senior German military officers later approved it for public release, yet this report was nevertheless generally ignored by the global mainstream media. The real reason that the global media largely ignored the story might be stated in the Bundeswehr Peak Oil report itself.

Quoting from page 91 of the report:

Gaining an illustrative picture of a subject is very much a matter of habit. When considering the consequences of peak oil, no everyday experiences and only few historical parallels are at hand. It is therefore difficult to imagine how significant the effects of being gradually deprived of one of our civilisation’s most important energy sources will be. Psychological barriers cause indisputable facts to be blanked out and lead to almost instinctively refusing to look into this difficult subject in detail.

Peak oil, however, is unavoidable.

The report covers the A to Z of peak oil for the reader who comes across the subject for the first time. The fact that the report does not shy away from discussing overshoot-and-collapse scenaria demonstrates that once again German institutions staffed by German people are not afraid to ask the hard questions. Quoting from page 24:

However, future analysis must also cover unexpected and undesired futures of which no more than the first indications can be analysed. Chapter 3.2 therefore looks into a special possible peak oil scenario in which a so-called “tipping point” is exceeded where linear developments become chaotic and finally result in a worst-case scenario in terms of security policy. For example, if the global economy shrinks for an indeterminate period of time, a chain reaction that might destabilise the global economic system is imaginable. Depending on point in time and the level of dependence of the affected society, such a peak-oil-induced, economic tipping point might have such severe systemic implications that only a few general statements as to economic, political, and social developments beyond the tipping point can be made. This will clearly change the analytical framework for all other security policy conclusions. Because of the widely unexplored “tipping point” phenomenon, it is impossible to conduct a comprehensive analysis of possible effects of such a trigger element. Rather, this study is designed to raise awareness of a possible nonlinear economic development due to peak oil and of the related risk of a severe system crisis.

The official English translation of the 112-page report “Peak Oil: Security Implications of Scarce Resources” can be downloaded from Energy Bulletin or directly from the Bundeswehr site (PDF).