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Peak Oil Matters

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


Tag: oil demand

July 25 2011 001








An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Tom Whipple:

Our society cannot sustain itself with energy returns in the 5-7 range without drastic reduction in our overall energy continue reading…









[W]hy are petroleum prices so high? Although some commentators are quick to blame oil companies or speculators, the main factor keeping the price of oil above $100 a barrel is supply. Yes, OPEC frequently reminds us that the oil market is continue reading…

I’m passing along some useful/informative Peak Oil-related articles of note which crossed my desk this past week… in case you missed them! continue reading…

If you read nothing else about peak oil in these next few days, this is the one: continue reading…

If you read nothing else about peak oil in these next few days, this terrific overview is the one: continue reading…









We don’t like bad news, particularly when it has very long term implications. Individually and collectively we tend to slip into denial mode, focus on diversions, become numbed to the reality of the situation, cling to anyone willing to assure us it just ain’t so, that things are going to get better. You can’t live your life in crisis mode. continue reading…







An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Peter C. Glover:

Contrary to popular belief, peak oil alarmists and Greenpeace propaganda, the world is still and will continue to be for at least a century, largely powered by oil. And not just for transport. An endless number of consumer goods depend on a continue reading…

I’m passing along some useful/informative Peak Oil-related articles of note which crossed my desk this past week… in case you missed them!

Enjoy. continue reading…







Oil plays an essential role in almost everything that touches our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the means by which we transport ourselves, our goods, and our services, to what we grow, build, have, own, need, and do, oil is almost always an important element. But the painful truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas that we almost always take for granted is on its way to becoming not-so-ready—recent production increases notwithstanding.

What happens when there’s not enough to meet all of our demands, to say nothing of those of every other nation—including the many countries seeking more growth and prosperity? What sacrifices will we be called upon to make? Which products will no longer be as readily available? Which services? Who decides? What will be decided? Who delivers that message to the designers and producers and shippers and end users? What’s their Plan B? And how will we respond when decisions are taken out of our hands? Where exactly will the dominoes tumble?

There is nothing on the horizon that will work as an adequate substitute for the efficiencies and low cost and ease of accessibility that oil has provided us. We simply do not have the means to make that happen—not the technological capabilities, not the personnel, not the industries, not the leadership … yet. Clearly, we do not have enough time to do it all with effortless ease and minimal disruptions.

Piecemeal approaches that address some small aspect of need for some short period of time in some limited geographical area for just a few consumers is in the end a monumental waste of limited resources, time, and effort. We can’t wait until we’re up to our eyeballs in Peak Oil’s impact to start figuring out what to do. We’re too close as it is. We’re going to have to be much better, much wiser, and much more focused. **

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. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable. A little food for thought….

For those of us in northern climes, winter’s cold and its effects must be addressed in a variety of ways. It’s not always just us and family members who require adaptation when the temperatures plummet. Ignoring basic auto maintenance can prove to be costly—and a serious inconvenience.

Science lesson: water freezes when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. You’re welcome. Internal combustion engines (i.e., your cars) require water in the cooling system to keep the engine from … bursting into flames and other annoying behaviors. (Antifreeze of course also allows for water to reach temperatures above the normal point of boiling.) But if we recall our science lesson, in winter water freezes. And that’s why we have antifreeze, and why we need to purchase a container or two and have it on hand during the winter. Antifreeze + water = no freezing of said water.

Also worth noting is that antifreeze’s usefulness is not limited to automobile engines.

According to the EPA: “Ethylene glycol is the most widely used automotive cooling-system antifreeze, although methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and propylene glycol* are also used. In automotive windshield-washer fluids, an alcohol (e.g., methanol) is usually added to keep the mixture from freezing; it also acts as a solvent to help clean the glass. The brine used in some commercial refrigeration systems is an antifreeze mixture.”

* Antifreeze is also quite toxic, and disposal is typically regulated by state laws. The good news, as Wikipedia adds, is that propylene glycol, much less toxic than ethylene glycol, is gradually replacing the ethylene. “As confirmation of its relative non-toxicity, the FDA allows propylene glycol to be added to a large number of processed foods, including ice cream, frozen custard, and baked goods.” Yum!

As the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry helpfully informs us: “Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for deicing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products. It is a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in the paint and plastics industries. Propylene glycol is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions. Other names for propylene glycol are 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, and trimethyl glycol. Propylene glycol is clear, colorless, slightly syrupy liquid at room temperature. It may exist in air in the vapor form, although propylene glycol must be heated or briskly shaken to produce a vapor. Propylene glycol is practically odorless and tasteless.”

If you follow Wikipedia’s links, it’s only a few clicks away from learning that the propylene glycol is derived from Propylene oxide which in turn is derived from Propene. “Propene is produced from fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and, to a much lesser extent, coal. Propene is a byproduct of oil refining and natural gas processing. During oil refining, ethylene, propene, and other compounds are produced as a result of cracking larger hydrocarbon molecules to produce hydrocarbons more in demand.”

And so once again I ask the very same question I’ve asked before: When the supply of depleting conventional crude oil continues to decline, and reliance turns to the inadequate supply of inferior quality, more expensive, harder to come by unconventional sources such as the tight shale formations in the U.S. and the Canadian tar sands cheered on by certain factions of the energy and media industries, what gets prioritized in such a way that every cog of these multiple supply chains are still supplied at current levels and relative costs?

If that does happen, what gets sacrificed as a result?

How much more difficult is it going to be in the years to come to sort all of this out and develop alternative means of providing these goods and services if we’re not having the conversations now with real-life facts to guide us—before we’re having serious problems? Waiting is a strategy, but it’s usually not a very good one.

 ~ My Photo: A 1952 Packard which the owner won on a $2.00 raffle ticket

** Opening paragraphs adapted from prior posts:








Two observations worth noting … and pondering, from another terrific report by J. David Hughes/Post Carbon Institute. [1]

Just think about these for a moment, and the implications….

In the next 24 years world consumption is forecast to grow by a further 44 percent—and U.S. consumption a further 7 percent—with fossil fuels continuing to provide around 80 percent of total demand. Fueling this growth will require the equivalent of 71 percent of all fossil fuels consumed since 1850—in just 24 years. [From the Introduction]

Each human inhabiting this planet now consumes on average nearly nine times as much energy as individuals in 1850 did, and more than 80 percent of this energy is provided by fossil fuels. Given that fossil fuels are non-renewable and hence finite, two critical questions arise: To what extent and on what timeframes can these rates of energy throughput be maintained? And what are the implications if they cannot? [From Production and Consumption: Key Takeaways]

Actually, might be worth more than a moment or two of consideration….

~ My Photo: Gloucester, MA – 09.01.08


[1]; Drill, Baby, Drill: Can Unconventional Fuels Usher in a New Era of Energy Abundance? by J. David Hughes [Feb. 2013]
© 2013 by Post Carbon Institute [Santa Rosa, CA]