The Peak

Oil that is.  Yesterday I wrote about fuel density and greenhouse gas emissions.  One big thing that I failed to mention is that one should not get too reliant on the stuff anyway as we are past the peak of conventional crude oil extraction.  There is a consensus that peak oil has already been reached, at some point between 2004 and 2008.

Don’t believe me?  Well why are we racing head long into projects like the Canadian tar sands, deep offshore oil drilling, and hydraulic fracturing which all have huge environmental issues?  Why would we take such risks?  I figure that it is because all of the easy to get oil is now harder to extract, and that it probably takes the energy of one barrel of oil to extract a barrel we take more risks and therefore invite environmental disasters.  In fact burning the stuff is the main cause of the climate chaos that we are now seeing the beginning of.

But unlike climate change, governments seem unwilling to encourage public debate about the ramifications of peak oil. This could be because politicians are concerned that doom-laden messages, like the prediction that ordinary families may only be able to use their cars for emergencies within 10 years because of spiralling fuel prices – will cause panic and civil disobedience on the streets.   Fancy that?  I don’t and I expect that neither do you.  Why is there not more in the media about the subject?  If the average punter is worried about a carbon tax, imagine if they knew about peak oil and all the chaos that will bring.  Not that you or I would know it though, with the piddly amount of media coverage on the issue.

Declining oil stocks mean price increases across the board.  As I mentioned in the post “Why oil prices are going up“, demand is outstripping supply and due to our oil addiction we cannot or will not think of alternatives.  As for alternatives, we may have left that too little, too late.  Some have said that we should have begun preparing for the end of cheap oil in the 1970’s, but we did not.  Some have, but most have not.  I too am addicted to oil, and I know I am not alone.  The entire human race is addicted to oil in some form or another.

We are sleepwalking into a train wreck and we need to educate our young people on what peak oil is really all about. As the Arabic saying goes ‘my father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flies an airplane, his son will ride a camel’.  Never a truer statement has been written.  That is about the state of it.

Tomorrow I will write about some solutions that are being worked on right now without government assistance and may be models for the future.  There is hope!


  1. says

    We’re seeing it right here – I live at the top edge of the Marcellus shale formation in NY State, where it overlaps the Utica shale formation. The frackers are poised to invade our beautiful state the minute the DEC starts issuing permits which could happen late this year or next. Estimates are for 80,000 – 200,000 wells to be drilled in the next 10 to 20 years. Of course, NYS is broke so all our elected “representatives” (ha!) are just drooling over the money to be made. And many of our neighbors can’t wait to throw us under the fracking bus either, as long as they can line their pockets in the process. Nothing is being said about moving to cleaner sources of energy. We have to stick to our stupid 19th & 20th century fuels until every dollar has been made. If they turn our state into an industrial wasteland, oh well – they’ll just leave. Who cares about the rest of us? Word is, most of the gas will be shipped overseas ’cause they can get a better price for it. And the gas companies will mostly bring in their own workers from outside the area, so it won’t improve the job picture either. A lot of good people are working very very hard to stop it, but it’s David vs. Goliath.

  2. says

    @ Frogdancer. My bad. I misconfigured the ads for feed in adsense. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I have blocked them, and totally agree with you. It kind of taints the message.

    @ DoH, Well done on engaging others about those subjects. We do need more people talking about these things. Like it or not, it will affect them.

    Gav x

  3. says

    Such a timely post! I’m in the middle of a big debate with my friends about climate change, the carbon tax and energy decent. Their argument goes something along the lines of ‘it would be uncomfortable to change, so therefore I don’t have to do it or worry about it’. Peak Oil means that, like it or not, our future is set to look very different from the life we know today. Love the camel quote! I wonder where I can get one from… 😉

  4. says

    Why is there an ad for credit cards at the beginning of your blog? It was on my Google Reader.

    I was pretty sure you wouldn’t be happy about it because it takes away slightly from the message you’re saying.

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