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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: finite

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Democracy holds out a promise that we will get to make choices about what we will do in our community. But each time we choose to ignore the factual truths staring right at us, we ensure that future generations will have fewer and fewer choices.

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America’s tradition of anti-intellectualism puts a low premium on careful thinking, allowing the substitution of slogans for analysis. The current presidential campaign should be evidence enough of how true this is.
But there is another reason for resistance to careful thinking; it can be difficult and distressing, especially if it leads to conclusions that are uncomfortable or contrary to our current beliefs.

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Without a serious revisiting of the questionable optimism that dominates any dialogue related to longer-term world oil supplies, without a harshly realistic scrub of the facts, we face unnecessarily large energy policy risks.

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Given what’s been happening with oil production in the past 18 months or so [duly acknowledging the impressive production gains leading up to that period], I find myself thinking that the near-total lack of preparation for a major energy upheaval is beyond surreal. It’s no different than reading the climate change assessments from scientists worldwide and then observing a collection of fact-averse “leaders” contorting reason and common sense into ideological fluff to avoid the psychological disruption of cognitive dissonance.

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One might argue that statistics nearly two years old don’t tell much of a story, but it’s not the numbers in the following quote which matter so much as it is the underlying context and concerns. Those consideration won’t go away. [Production issues since this article was first published aren’t exactly changing the facts much, either.]

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U.S. crude oil production is falling because investments into shale oil production dried up as the price of crude oil fell below $60/bbl. Companies aren’t interested in putting new capital to work, and because these oil fields deplete, that means crude production is falling. Why is that significant? Because most of the world’s new oil production in the past 6 years has come from U.S. shale oil fields. It is hard to overstate the global importance of the new crude supply that came online in the U.S. since 2008

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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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We have a problem with oil production now—not just here in the United States—and it is not going to get better. The cancellation of exploration and production projects does not occur in a parallel universe! If production is being curtailed, that we have enough today to meet demand is not the beginning and end of supply concerns

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[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.

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[S]o we have this physical constraint that’s coming because of Peak Oil. There’s nothing we’re going to do about it. We can’t out-clever that. It’s just a constraint, it’s a limitation, there it is. We could manage it well or we can manage it poorly, but it’s there. We have a political system that’s not really geared for the magnitude of the change that we’re seeing, so the most likely outcome is that we’re going to wait, we as a culture are going to wait until we’re forced to deal with this. That’s probably going to come with  disruptions….

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