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Peak Oil Matters

A fresh perspective on the concept of peak oil and the challenges we face

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Tag: depletion

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One day we will run out of oil, it is not today or tomorrow, but one day we will run out of oil and we have to leave oil before oil leaves us, and we have to prepare ourselves for that day. The earlier we start, the better, because all of our economic and social system is based on oil, so to change from that will take a lot of time and a lot of money and we should take this issue very seriously. [quoting Dr Fatih Birol, at that time the chief economist and now Executive Director at the International Energy Agency (IEA)] 

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What is actually important is not the date of peak global oil production, but the decades of decline that follow

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[O]ur Peak Oil problem is a case of simple mathematics.
‘We stopped finding large oil fields 40 years ago. The production from those fields decreases every year and we simply can’t bring enough smaller fields on fast enough to offset those declines and grow daily oil production….
‘The demand side of the equation is no help either. Population grows every year. And the most populous countries in the  world grow per capita oil production every year as well. When you consider how many people are in China, India and other emerging countries and then consider how little oil each of them uses, it isn’t hard to see that changes in their lifestyle to include more oil consumption will make a big difference.’ [quoting John Hess, CEO Hess Corp]

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A moment’s pause to consider the practical realities of billions of others looking to improve their lifestyles on any scale by which we measure our own progress and achievements should realize immediately that a finite set of ever-more-challenging-to-acquire energy supplies needed to power those advances can only be spread so thin.

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Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, train tracks, water and sewer pipes, power lines, etc.) does not exist in current form without the ready availability of inexpensive conventional crude oil. Our modern society with all of its technological marvels and the wide ranging conveniences was made possible and sustained in large part because we have had the boundless opportunities this fossil fuel resource provided.

But production of that finite resource peaked a decade ago.

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If/when a petroleum shortage impacts it will concentrate minds wonderfully. But when it comes the window of opportunity could be brief and risky. If things deteriorate too far too fast there could easily be too much chaos for sense to prevail and for us to organize cooperative local alternative systems. [1]

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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. [1]

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‘[P]eak oil’ is a global issue resulting from dependency on finite oil resources and associated vulnerability to changes in supply. The global economy must engage in changes and these changes must start with our misperceptions of prosperity as synonymous with capital. If we can transition to a paradigm in which equitable distribution of resources, social justice, the environment and pacifism are valued; energy alternatives and global agreements to mitigate the effects of peak oil may actually work. Fundamentally important is a shared global commitment to these aims (links/citations in original quote). [1]

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This is a follow-up to my most recent post, in which I offered a few observations on commentary attempting to debunk the concept of peak oil courtesy of this recent article by John Kemp. [Quotes here are from the Kemp article unless noted otherwise.]  continue reading…

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This is a final look at one of this year’s better features on the subject of peak oil: an article by John Kaufmann entitled: The Energy Independence Illusion. It’s an excellent read [adapted from a presentation to the World Affairs Council of Oregon this past March] for anyone interested in this topic. [Any quotes here are from that article unless noted otherwise.]
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