I was sorry to see that Mike Ruppert passed away a few months ago.
Ruppert was one of the first peak oil writers I came across, back in the distant past of 2004, via a Swedish technology blogger named Rickard Oberg who had links to Ruppert's "From The Wilderness" web site (and a similar one called "OilEmpire.us") in a section of his blogroll dubbed "Reality Check" (possibly not entirely accurately - perhaps it should have been titled "Take a look down a rabbit hole" or suchlike).
The site was pretty much a grab-bag of almost every conspiracy theory friendly topic you could think of, with Ruppert primarily writing about the events of 9/11 (publishing a book called "Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil"" around this time) but with increasingly large doses of peak oil and Iraq war related material thrown into the mix.
Ruppert had apparently become famous in conspiracy minded circles in the period following the Iran-Contra affair. He was credited with causing the resignation of then CIA Director John Deutch who had gone to Los Angeles to try to refute allegations in Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" articles, only to be publicly confronted by (ex Los Angeles Police Department officer) Ruppert about CIA involvement in the trafficking of crack cocaine.
Shortly after I started keeping an eye on "From the Wilderness" (as part of my in depth observation of all things peak oil related for a few years), Ruppert bombastically announced that he was going to Washington to confront then US vice-President Dick Cheney about his role (in Ruppert's eyes) organising the 9/11 attacks.
A brief period of silence followed, with Ruppert then returning to his online writing, making vague excuses for the absence of any personal confrontation of Cheney (which was never likely to eventuate of course).
I mostly lost interest in FTW around that time but did notice Ruppert pop up elsewhere from time to time - most memorably at the "Petrocollapse" peak oil conference which took place shortly after Hurricane Katrina severely damaged New Orleans and shut in a lot of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. Ruppert was quick to declare that the collapse of the US would occur within a few weeks - but somehow managed to carry on his relentless writing afterwards without ever acknowledging, as far as I'm aware, that this prophecy of doom had, in fact, been wrong (something JD of "Peak Oil Debunked" did like to remind him of periodically).
The following year Ruppert fled to Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, citing government persecution. The Venezuelans apparently weren't as welcoming as Mike had hoped, and he eventually returned to North America and started a blog, "From the Wilderness' Peak Oil Blog" and later an online doomer hangout called "CollapseNET".
During the last years of his life he seemed to become even gloomier and starred in a few movies exploring the Collapse theme - "Collapse" and "Apocalypse, Man".
While I never thought much of Ruppert's over the top style of peak oil doomerism and I frequently found his reporting and predictions to be wildly inaccurate (at best) he did seem to have his heart in the right place and did cause of lot of people to think about issues they might otherwise have remained unaware of.
Ruppert's passing attracted obituaries from a wide (and very eclectic) range of sources, amongst them :
- The Verge
- Film Maker Magazine
- The Daily Mail
- Resilience / Energy Bulletin
- The Daily (Ron) Paul
- Club Orlov
I'm sure if Mike was still around he'd find plenty to write about (though beating the peak oil drum in the era of $100+ per barrel unconventional oil would no doubt have become very boring).
One topic that conspiracy theorists latched onto with a vengeance in recent months was the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 (many of them pondering why so many AIDS researchers died in the crash - though apparently this was a case of chinese whispers in the media). The SMH had an entertaining roundup of the main theories - Top conspiracy theories sparked by MH17 disaster.
1. A world power shot the plane down to start World War III.
2. A major world power shot the plane down to distract from Gaza/the border crisis/the “World Currency Reset”/the next Snowden release/fill-in-the-blank.
3. A major world power shot the plane down to cover up the man-made origins of HIV/AIDS.
4. Ukraine shot the plane down to kill Vladimir Putin.
5. The plane was not shot down at all.
6. In fact, the plane never even took off!
7. MH17 is actually MH 370.
Ruppert's bete noire Dick Cheney appeared in some other topics popular with conspiracy theorists recently, the rise of ISIS in Iraq and America's apparently porous southern border. Here's an example from Cryptogon - And Now… Former CIA Officer: ‘A Lot of Communication’ Between ISIS, Mexican Cartels.
U.S. Intelligence Connections to Mexican Cartels – Check
U.S. Funded and Armed “ISIS” – Check
Southern Border of U.S. Left Wide Open On Purpose – Check
Back on 20 June, I wrote the following about the border mess: So what you have here is some sort of scam designed to get Americans to accept a “solution” that wouldn’t be accepted under anything like normal circumstances. The poor immigrants are being used as props.
Maybe the purpose of the border catastrophe is coming into focus…
Maybe some of this is being ordered up for inside The Homeland.
Here’s Cheney to enlighten us:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney was on “Hannity” to discuss the threat of ISIS and the horrific beheading of American journalist James Foley.
“After watching this [beheading] video, I’m pretty convinced that we have a group of people at war with us. Would you agree with that?” Hannity asked.
“Absolutely,” Cheney said, calling ISIS “very much a threat to the United States” and to our friends and allies.
While Cheney said the beheading of an American reporter is a terrible development, he cautioned, “Magnify that a million times over because that’s what’s in store for the rest of the world if we don’t deal effectively with this crisis.”
One common area of conspiracy theory that Ruppert avoided (or opposed) was climate change skepticism - so he probably wouldn't have picked up on the latest trend amongst skeptics to try and cast doubt over the legitimacy of temperature records - Climate sceptics see a conspiracy in Australia's record breaking heat.
You could cut the triumphalism on the climate science denialist blogs right now with a hardback copy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Their unbridled joy comes not in the wake of some key research published in the scientific literature but in the fact that a climate sceptic has got a mainstream newspaper to give their conspiracy theory another airing.
The sceptic in question is Dr Jennifer Marohasy, a long-time doubter of human-caused climate change whose research at Central Queensland University (CQU) is funded by another climate change sceptic.
I choose the Nineteen Eighty-Four analogy in my introduction because it is one of Marohasy’s favourites. She likes to compare the work of the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to the various goings on in Orwell’s fictional dystopian novel.
The conspiracy theory is that BoM is using a technique to selectively tamper with its temperature data so that it better fits with the global warming narrative.
The people at NASA are in on it too.
Now the great thing about conspiracy theories is that, for believers, attempts to correct the record just serve to reinforce the conspiracy. Like a video clip of the moon landing on a constant loop, the whole thing feeds back on itself.