BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 17:22 GMT
Wednesday, 21 December, 2005
Jeremy Paxman

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Jeremy Paxman's biography


From programme producer Liz Gibbons


Tonight we are devoting most of the programme to exploring whether we are reaching the end of the Oil Age and if we are, then what on earth comes next?

When historians look back at 2005, they may single out a few key facts. This year, the arctic sea ice shrank to its smallest ever size; record heat-waves hit parts of Asia and Africa; oil prices soared to 70 dollars a barrel; and terror came to the streets of London.

Seemingly unrelated events at first glance, perhaps, but might historians also conclude that are they all actually a symptom of the same thing?

Has our ability to rely on an endless supply of oil to maintain our living standards reached its peak? Has the decision to maintain western oil interests in the Middle East and other unstable parts of the world led to instability back home? Have the environmental consequences of our reliance on oil pushed the planet to a tipping point from which there is no return? And, if we are nearing the end of the Oil Age, how radically will our lives have to change to compensate?

Or are we all worrying far too much? Can we rely on technology, ideas, the human spirit to carry us into a new and better age? Let's hope so...

We've assembled a panel of experts to chew over these issues, and our team of reporters will be giving us their view of how bad it all really is.

Merry Christmas.

On the lighter side of the news...

Elton John and his partner David Furnish were one of hundreds of couples who took advantage of the new law allowing civil partnerships between same sex couples. Gay rights campaigners have hailed it as a victory for equality. But could it have some unintended, and rather unequal, consequences?

Do join Jeremy at 10.30pm

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