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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: oil production

 

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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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By 2035, the global population is expected to reach nearly 8.8 billion, meaning an additional 1.5 billion people will need energy, according to BP’s annual world energy forecasts, and based on current forecasts it won’t be sourced from renewables.

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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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Research has powerfully illustrated that a lack of knowledge in domains such as energy and the environment can lead to bad decisions and erroneous beliefs that hinder a society’s ability to create change in domains that require it

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It’s just not that difficult to understand. But if your interests depend on a narrative contradicted by facts and reality, then telling only part of the story to unsuspecting others is the way to go….

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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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We remain free as always to choose to fear the consequences of a permanent decline in the availability of affordable and accessible fossil fuel supplies. The enduring impact on our society and our ways of life as a result of a diminished supply of our primary energy supply is no small matter. So fear is certainly an option.

We can also rely on those disinclined to examine the majority of production realities, offering instead a steady diet of optimistic statements and light-on-fact assurances.

Very few of us who are concerned with the full range of oil production issues and challenges find anything about the widespread future impact of peak oil to be other than a somber realization on our best days.

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I ended last week’s post by explaining the significance of getting all of the facts about our energy supply future as a first step.

Before deciding whether or not to accept the realities of a depleting finite resource and the impact this will have on our society—or ignoring it for whatever comforting alternative explanations suit one’s needs—understanding the implications and those realities is a more beneficial approach.

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As cognitive dissonance theory would predict, people tend to avoid information that is dissonant with their current beliefs and seek consonant information, especially when they are already committed to a particular position [citations in original pdf]

I’ll conclude this portion of the series with some unedited comments about President Obama by anonymous readers of the American Thinker article discussed in prior posts. It’s a remarkable but unfortunately not uncommon sampling of what passes for reasoned responses—at least for those having any relevance at all to the article about our future energy supply and its dismissive treatment of any concerns about fossil fuel production—from a too-large segment of the far Right on almost any issue dividing Left from Right. That’s not to say those on the Left don’t contribute their share of discord, but from my very unscientific observations over a numbers of years, the personal attacks are far fewer; and one finds more substantiation of the positions taken.

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The unpleasant truth now and soon is that the ready supply of oil and gas which we almost always take for granted [the occasional price spike notwithstanding] is on its way to becoming not-so-ready. A host of factors now in place are steadily converting possibility into likelihood. Thinking that we’ll just implement a few crash programs to straighten out that potential mess is a nice thought, but 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.

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