Imagine, if you can, that there is a resource everyone likes to use. They like to use it for convenience: it lets them go places, have neat things, eat the foods they want no matter what time of year it is….
Now imagine, if you can, that this resource begins to become scarce. Imagine that the world could not discover any new supplies of this resource, nor could they produce it any faster. Imagine this was because the ‘easy’ supplies had already been used, and now the more difficult to reach supplies were economically disadvantageous to access… What would happen to the supply of this resource? It would dwindle. And what would happen to all the items that were made from it? They would rise in price. And what would happen if the resource became so scarce that not everyone could have it? How would people react? 
While it would be so much easier and better if we only had to imagine this scenario, Reality is telling us a different story—magical technology and bazillions of barrels of shale oil and tar sands underground notwithstanding. Likely consequences are certainly unpleasant, enduring, and far-reaching—all the more so if we aren’t planning to do much about it in advance, as seems clear.
Given that there are almost no aspects of everyday living and producing which are not dependent in large or small part on the ready availability of affordable, high-quality conventional crude oil, Peak Oil will leave few aspects of life-as-we-know-it untouched. It’s all the more important we recognize that the various “Plan B” substitutes/alternatives don’t provide us with the same combination of energy efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and supply. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable.
A little foresight will go a long way. A lot more foresight would be better.
With that in mind, here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. A little food for thought….[A follow-up to last week’s post on the U.S. Olympic Training Centers]
~ ~ ~
The Olympic Games are now underway. It remains one of our great cultural and athletic events—a spectacle unlike any other.
Two hundred-plus nations. Hundreds of events. More than ten thousand athletes. Hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of British citizens and visitors and volunteers and workers and trainers and broadcasters and chefs and hotel staffers and providers of transportation and a near-endless list of others. An amazing undertaking by any measure.
A Few Considerations….
Different venue, but still wondering….
How do teams [and/or individual athletes] … deal with travel issues and schedules when gas is much too expensive … or when air travel is severely curtailed and wildly expensive because not enough jet fuel is being processed to meet demand (and airports are shuttered because air travel has diminished markedly), or when the fans cannot afford to put the gasoline in their vehicles that in the past allowed them to attend the games without a second thought?
What happens when half, or a third, or one-tenth the number of fans can afford to attend because budgeting all that money to drive [or fly] to an in- or out-of-state stadium no longer makes financial sense…?
What happens to the vendors and other suppliers when the majority of fans just stop attending…? 
And what of all the related transportation services dependent on all these flights: rental cars, limos, taxis, hotels, restaurants, airport gift shops and the like? What happens to them, and their employees, and their suppliers? What kind of plans have been discussed in the boardrooms?
How many employees in each of those industries, each individual business establishment, and each spouse or partner or child dependent on each one of those countless employees might be adversely impacted when those businesses start to feel the serious pinch of declining energy supplies…?
And what of the ripple effect?
What happens when this air travel decline is extended to hotels and rental cars and all the rest; when rental cars are either much more costly and/or there are less of them to begin with? What happens when the preferred hotels have downsized because business and tourist travel has declined? 
What happens when the mind-boggling efforts in planning, preparing, transporting, supplying, delivering, etc., etc. needed to stage this incredible event by countless thousands of individuals and merchants and organizations and government officials are simply no longer feasible because every single entity up and down the supply and service chain is faced with the reality of insufficient availability of “affordable”, quality, energy supply to make this extravaganza happen?
How many economic dominoes tumble as a result? How many businesses lose out? How many employees? 
And A Few Details
A fascinating story about the construction of London’s Olympic Stadium is just one account of the awe-inspiring levels of planning and preparation and work required by countless tens of thousands to stage this great event.
An entry in Wikipedia details the incredible breadth of plans and preparations and considerations and activities engaged in by London officials and others in the years leading up to these 2012 London Games. Construction; redevelopment; addressing and adapting to citizen concerns and opposition; funding (billions of dollars); security concerns; private and public transportation (including new high-speed rail service and the construction of a cable car system); lodging, meals, and the staffing of and supplying for same; marketing; broadcasting; entertainment; and last but not least: the creation of needed facilities, supplies for same, and services for and on behalf of the athletes, their families, and assorted staff serve as an overview of the countless details attended to in advance of the Games.
Aside from the obvious costs, manpower, effort, and time, all of the above and the myriad assortment of other preparations each and all require energy … a LOT of energy, and of necessity a LOT of fossil-fuel derived energy to meet and plan and travel to and construct and implement and coordinate and oversee and experience.
I’m not anticipating that the Olympic Games and the years of preparation required will cease to be anytime in the near future, but the reality of Peak Oil will affect this event just as it will every other commercial enterprise.
What happens when there simply isn’t enough energy to make all of this happen as smoothly and effortlessly (I use those terms loosely) as has been the case to this point? How high a priority do we—and every other nation—assign to our Olympic athletes and the stupendous amount of resources and plans and preparations they need when we’re no longer dealing with the same quantities and quality of affordable and accessible energy supplies?
How much magic does “human ingenuity” and the Technology Fairy have at the ready for just this one spectacle?
It will take an incredible amount of planning and thought to figure out an appropriate Plan B just for this one event … how much more planning and thought will be needed for everything else? 
* My Photo: Fenway Park, Boston – June 1, 2010
 http://americanendgame.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/peak-oil/; Peak Oil: Why Gas Prices are Never Coming Down by Dark Smith [“a former liberal … now firmly planted in the independent libertarian camp”] – 02.25.12
 http://peakoilmatters.com/2010/06/09/peak-oils-impact-1/; Peak Oil’s Impact # 1
 http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/02/02/peak-oils-impact-winter-travel/; Peak Oil’s Impact: Winter Travel
 &  http://peakoilmatters.com/2012/02/16/peak-oils-impact-the-super-bowl/; Peak Oil’s Impact: The Super Bowl