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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: lifestyle

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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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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 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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Of course it’s threatening to think that our lifestyles, systems of governing, and capitalist processes themselves may all face drastic changes in the not-too-distant future because of the facts and reality of Peak Oil and climate change! I’m certainly not the poster-child for Peak Oil advocacy and lifestyles. I have a very nice, capitalist, well-to-do lifestyle. To hell with all of you, I don’t want MY life to change!

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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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The essential problem is not just that we are tapping the wrong energy sources (though we are), or that we are wasteful and inefficient (though we are), but that we are overpowered, and we are overpowering nature – Richard Heinberg, from the Introduction to ENERGY

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The painful truth is that with a decline in oil production in the years to come—coupled with increased demand once/if it does in fact increase again—as we’d like to think [hope?], with the realities of reduced investment and research in alternatives tossed into the mix, we’re rendering any prospects for growth and improved well-being nothing but delusional aspirations.

When will there be a pause in denial and the flow of misleading half-truths so that all of us can begin the complex, years-in-the-making processes of adaptation to a world where fossil fuels are not the immediately available source of energy?

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Bear in mind the huge scale of the industry and the production infrastructure required. The vast bulk of production is coming from conventional oilfields, the majority of which are past peak and whose production is in decline. A consideration of the discoveries waiting to be developed and the timescale to put them into production reveals a significant gap, apparent even on close consideration of the work of the IEA, which masks this gap as production that will come from as yet unidentified, undiscovered fields. It is totally unrealistic to anticipate future discoveries on the scale required to fill this gap, given the historical record (especially this century) and the fact that most promising oil provinces have already been well explored and developed.

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It has been a main theme of mine—given the impact peak oil will eventually have on all of us—that small changes here and there, every now and then, by a few of us when we can spare the time, are not the optimal strategies for us to pursue. Conventional crude oil has been in many ways the most astonishing discovery in our history—all the more significant given how its many benefits have extended in so many directions.

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