We will have to transition to a post-fossil-fuel economy eventually, either out of wisdom or chaos [1]

Discussions about the future of fossil fuel production and supply have to become more than a matter of which side is reporting the facts—or absence of same—accurately. Peak oil’s message is rather simple once all of the fluff and distractions are set aside. It’s about a recognition that we are dealing with a finite resource used extensively for decades upon decades by ever-increasing numbers for ever-increasing needs.

Finite anything has built-in limitations. With respect to the primary resource responsible for the magnificent technologies and astounding levels of progress mankind has experienced over the course of more than a century, it’s critical to keep that limitation in mind. Fossil fuels—oil, primarily—are now being called upon to do more, for more people, in more ways, and in more areas of the world [current decline in demand and oversupply duly acknowledged].

This finite resource is not replenishing itself, notwithstanding the goofy outlier assertions to the contrary. Likewise, the current economic and corporate conditions are hardly conducive to finding and producing it inexpensively, or quickly, or in abundance.

But all is not well with the oil sector.  Between 2000 and 2012, $2.6 Trillion USD was invested in oil infrastructure CAPEX, with no gain in oil production (this data includes shale oil production in USA).¹  Global crude and condensate production has plateaued since approximately 2005. The problem with this is world population is 13.8% larger now than in 2005 (7.4 billion people 5/2/2016 vs 6.5 billion in 2005). Increasingly unconventional sources of oil are being used to meet demand, where these sources are expensive to extract and struggle to meet the desired quantities. [2]

For all the legitimate accolades directed to the production gains generated by hydraulic fracturing and the increased supply courtesy of tight oil, limitations are baked into that cake as well. There’s no question that the technological advances have been both astounding and vital to oil exploration and production efforts. That’s clearly evident in the results produced from shale formations here in the United States.

Ticking off the list of drawbacks, however—rapid decline rates; fewer production “sweet spots”; water usage concerns; environmental hazards; damage to infrastructure, etc., etc.—may spoil the Happy Talk messages conveyed to an unsuspecting public, but ignoring them certainly isn’t benefiting the public, either. More information is a good thing….

[W]e have no replacement energy source that is as calorically dense as oil. It is simply not practical to replace oil as an energy source and maintain current energy demands. [3]

So now what?

Shall we continue to barrel full-steam ahead arguing with/over/past one another on talking points which in the end amount to little more than distractions and irrelevancies? Or do we collectively come to a recognition that despite the rhetoric, oil is still a finite resource? Statements supporting ideologies are not facts, and avoiding those facts out of fear or personality inclinations or in support of one’s “tribe”—political or otherwise—will not change the reality of what happens to a finite resource called upon to do more, more often, in greater quantities, for more people. Something will have to give.

That’s not liberal orthodoxy. It’s math supported by the realities of oil production.

So for all the chatter about trillions of barrels here, there, and everywhere, unless advocates of that argument are prepared [finally] to explain the details about how; when; how much; how expensive; how soon; how easy and a host of related considerations, it’s not much more than mindless chatter intended to appease and/or close off discussion. Convenient, but it solves nothing; it proves nothing, it answers nothing.

We need to move past that. We have a choice to make our future at least a bit easier [a lot is the goal, of course]. We can also choose to make it more difficult by failing to deal with the unpleasant facts and then foregoing opportunities to make the invaluable contributions both sides are equipped to do.

Worth at least considering before we resume the Left-Right wars?

NOTE: This series will run on Fridays through June 17


~ My Photo: Good Harbor Beach, MA sunrise – 09.12.15



[1]; The Hidden, Very Good Reason for the $10 Oil Tax by Arun Gupta – 02.18.16
[2]; The implications of peak energy by Simon Michaux – 03.02.16
[3] Ibid.


We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. Michael Brownlee

Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas,
Envisioning Better Tomorrows


Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being


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