Life after the oil crash
2004 02 10
Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky conclusion of a religious cult, but rather the result of diligent analysis sourced by hard data and the scientists who study global “Peak Oil” and related geo-political events.
So who are these nay-sayers who claim the sky is falling? Conspiracy fanatics? Apocalypse Bible prophesy readers? To the contrary, they are some of the most respected, highest paid geologists and experts in the world. And this is what's so scary.
The situation is so dire that even George W. Bush's Energy Adviser, Matthew Simmons, has acknowledged that "The situation is desperate. This is the world's biggest serious question."
According to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, "America faces a major energy supply crisis over the next two decades. The failure to meet this challenge will threaten our nation's economic prosperity, compromise our national security, and literally alter the way we lead our lives."
If you are like 99% of the people reading this letter, you have never heard of the term "Peak Oil." I had not heard the term until a few months ago. Since learning about Peak Oil, I have had my world view, and basic assumptions about my own individual future turned completely upside down.
A little about myself: A few months ago, I was a 25 year old law school graduate who found out he had just passed the California Bar Exam. I was excited about a potentially long and prosperous career in the legal profession, getting married, having kids, contributing to my community, and living the "American Dream."
Peak Oil has caused me to seriously question how realistic this vision of my life is.
Whether you're 25 or 75, an attorney or an auto mechanic, what you are about to read will shake the foundations of your life.
Below you find a brief explanation of Peak Oil, the ramifications, and what we can do about it. For the sake of simplicity, I have designed the following explanation for somebody unfamiliar with Peak Oil. If you would like more in depth explanations with graphs, charts, and the like, please consult the extensive interviews, articles and sites I have linked to throughout this site.
What is "Peak Oil"?
All oil production follows a bell curve, whether in an individual field or on the planet as a whole. On the upslope of the curve production costs are significantly lower than on the downslope when extra effort (expense) is required to extract oil from reservoirs that are emptying out.
Put simply: oil is abundant and cheap on the upslope, scarce and expensive on the downslope.
For the past 150 years, we have been moving up the upslope of the global oil production curve. "Peak Oil" is the industry term for the top of the curve. It's often referred to as "Hubbert's Peak" a reference to King Hubbert, the geologist who discovered that oil production follows a bell curve.
Once we pass the peak, we will go down the very steep downslope. The further we go down the slope, the more it costs to produce oil, and its cousin, natural gas.
In practical terms, this means that if 2000 was the year of Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2020 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world's population in 2020 will be both much larger (approximately twice as big) and much more industrialized than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace the worldwide production of oil by a significant margin.
The more demand for oil exceeds production of oil, the higher the price goes.
Ultimately, the question is not "When will we run out of oil?" but rather, "When will we run out of cheap oil?"
When will Peak Oil occur?
The most wildly optimistic estimates indicate 2020 will be the year in which worldwide oil production peaks. Generally, these estimates come from the government.
A more realistic estimate is between the year 2004-2010. Unfortunately, we won't know that we hit the peak until 3-4 years after we actually hit it. Even on the upslope of the curve, oil production varies a bit from year to year. It is possible that the year 2000 was the year of peak oil production, as production has dipped every year since.
The energy industry has quietly acknowledged the seriousness of the situation. For instance, the president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company, Jon Thompson, recently stated:
By 2015, we will need to find, develop and produce a volume of new oil and gas that is equal to eight out of every 10 barrels being produced today. In addition, the cost associated with providing this additional oil and gas is expected to be considerably more than what industry is now spending.
Equally daunting is the fact that many of the most promising prospects are far from major markets — some in regions that lack even basic infrastructure. Others are in extreme climates, such as the Arctic, that present extraordinary technical challenges.
If Mr. Thompson is that frank in an article posted on the Exxon Mobil webpage, you have to wonder what he says behind closed days when he talks about oil depletion. (note - if you read the link, read it in the context of what Matthew Simmons says - see below)
Even the Saudis are aware of the situation. They have a saying that goes, "My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel."
That sounds pretty bad, but if gas prices get too high, I'll just carpool or take public transportation more. Why should I be concerned?
Almost every current human endeavor from transportation, to manufacturing, to electricity to plastics, and especially food and water production is inextricably intertwined with oil and natural gas supplies.
Food Production and Oil:
Commercial food production is oil powered. Most pesticides are petroleum (oil) based, and all commercial fertilizers are ammonia based. Ammonia is produced from natural gas.
Oil based agriculture is primarily responsible for the world's population exploding from 1 billion at the middle of the 19th century to 6.3 billion at the turn of the 21st.
Oil allowed for farming implements such as tractors, food storage systems such as refrigerators, and food transport systems such as trucks.
As oil production went up, so did food production. As food production went up, so did the population. As the population went up, the demand for food went up, which increased the demand for oil.
Within a few years of Peak Oil occurring, the price of food will skyrocket because of the cost of fertilizer will soar. The cost of storing (electricity) and transporting (gasoline) the food that is produced will also soar.
Water Supply and Oil:
Inexpensive oil is also needed to construct and maintain the massive infrastructure that delivers our fresh water.
Healthcare and Oil:
Oil is largely responsible for the advances in medicine that have been made in the last 150 years. Oil allowed for the mass production of pharmaceutical drugs, and the development of health care infrastructure such as hospitals, ambulances, roads, etc . . .
Everything Else and Oil:
Oil is required for a lot more than just food, water, medicine, and transportation. It is also required for nearly every consumer item, sewage disposal, garbage disposal, street/park maintenance, hospitals & health systems, police, fire services, and national defense.
Thus, the aftermath of Peak Oil will extend far beyond how much you will pay for gas. Simply stated, you can expect: war, starvation, economic collapse, possibly even the extinction of Homo sapiens.
This is known as the post-oil "die-off". The term "die-off" captures perfectly the nightmare that is at our doorstep.
What do you mean by "die-off"?
Exactly what it sounds like. It is estimated that the world's population will contract to 500 million during the Oil Crash. (current world population: 6 billion)
Are you serious? That's over 90% of our current population. How could that many people perish? Where does that estimate come from?
That estimate comes from biologists who have studied what happens to every species when it exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment in one life giving aspect or another.
For instance, bacteria in a petri dish will grow exponentially until they run out of resources, at which point their population will crash. Only one generation prior to the crash, the bacteria will have used up half the resources available to them. To the bacteria, there will be no hint of a problem until they starve to death.
While comparing humans to bacteria in a petri dish is a bit uncomfortable, the similarities are numerous:
The first commercial oil well was drilled in 1859. At that time, the world's population was about 1 billion. Less than 150 years later, our population has exploded to 6.3 billion. In that time, we have used up half the world's recoverable oil. Of the half that's left, most will be very expensive to extract . If the experts are correct, we are less than one generation away from a crash. Yet to most of us, there appears to be no hint of a problem.
We need not look solely to the petri dish to predict what will happen to the planet. We can look to our own history.
Take the case of the famous Irish potato famine. For well over a century, year after steady year, the British encouraged and the Irish developed a near-total dependency upon a single dietary mainstay, the potato, and the population of the island grew from 2 million people to more than 8 million.
Then suddenly in 1845, a parasitic fungus turned the potatoes into sticky, inedible, mucous globs. Within a generation the country was devastated, more than half the population died or emigrated, and those who remained were reduced to a poverty that diminished only a century later.
In some ways, planet Earth's future is likely to be worse than Ireland's past. The severity of the potato famine was offset by the fact that many of the Irish could emigrate to the land of plenty: America. This allowed those who remained to make the most of what little resources were left.
Unlike the Irish, we have nowhere else to go. But we do have lots of WMD's to toss at each other.
Oh, by the way: you want to know what the bacteria do as their population crashes?
They eat each other.
I still can't imagine that number of deaths. It's just too ghastly to imagine. Only 10% of us are going to make it? How can that possibly be?
I know how you feel. This is all very difficult to handle, both emotionally and intellectually. As former UK environmental minister Michael Meacher recently wrote, "It's hard to envisage the effects of a radically reduced oil supply on a modern economy or society. The implications are mindblowing."
Perhaps the following explanation, while a bit over simplified, will help to illustrate the situation:
As explained above, oil production follows a bell curve. Thus, if the year 2000 was the year of peak production, then oil production in the year 2025 will be about the same as it was in the year 1975.
The population in the year 2025 is projected to be roughly 10 billion. The population in 1975 was roughly 4 billion.
Since oil production essentially equals food production, this means that we will have 10 billion people on the planet but only enough food for 4 billion or less, since even in 1975 we were unable to feed everybody.
Now think about it this way: say you, me, and 8 other people were locked in a room, with only enough food for 4 of us. At least 6 of us will die from starvation. Another one or two will likely die as we all fight each other for what little food we have.
That's what will happen if we are fighting with just our fists. Give each of us weapons, and you can imagine what that room will look like when were done with each other.
If you're asking, "What about switching to renewable energy to keep the food production up?" - just keep reading - we'll get to that in a few questions.
Where are you getting this information from? Who else is talking about Peak Oil? What type of backgrounds do they have?
When you're done reading through this site, take a look at this page. It has links to over 50 news articles about Peak Oil, all are from highly reputable sources. You will find, much to your dismay as well as my own, that everything on this site is supported by facts.
For the sake of brevity, here is what just two highly credible individuals have to say about Peak Oil:
Dr. David Goodstein, Professor of Physics and Vice Provost of Cal Tech University:
In his just-released book, Out of Gas: The End of Oil, Dr. Goodstein argues forcefully that the worldwide production of oil will peak soon, possibly within this decade. That will be followed by declining availability of fossil fuels that could plunge the world into global conflicts as nations struggle to capture their piece of a shrinking pie.
In a recent article on ABC, Dr. Goodstein had this to say about Peak Oil:
Worst case: After Hubbert's peak, all efforts to produce, distribute, and consume alternative fuels fast enough to fill the gap between falling supplies and rising demand fail. Runaway inflation and worldwide depression leave many billions of people with no alternative but to burn coal in vast quantities for warmth, cooking, and primitive industry. The change in the greenhouse effect that results eventually tips Earth's climate into a new state hostile to life. End of story.
Matthew Simmons, Energy Advisor to George W. Bush
In a recent interview, Matthew Simmons largely echoed Dr. Goodstein's sentiments. When asked if it was time for Peak Oil to become part of the public policy debate, Simmons responded:
It is past time. As I have said, the experts and politicians have no Plan B to fall back on. If energy peaks, particularly while 5 of the world’s 6.5 billion people have little or no use of modern energy, it will be a tremendous jolt to our economic well-being and to our health — greater than anyone could ever imagine.
When asked if there is a solution, Simmons responded:
I don’t think there is one. The solution is to pray. Under the best of circumstances, if all prayers are answered there will be no crisis for maybe two years. After that it’s a certainty.
Other than Simmons, has anybody else in the Bush administration mentioned Peak Oil?
Here is what Dick Cheney said in late 1999:
By some estimates, there will be an average of two percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three percent natural decline in production from existing reserves.
Cheney ended on an alarming note, "That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day."
This is equivalent to more than six Saudi Arabia's of today's size.
I'm not so sure I trust anybody in the Bush administration. Who else thinks this is a serious issue?
In 1980, Jimmy Carter told the American public that we needed to prepare in 1980 for the end of the oil age in 2005.
More recently, Michael Moore dedicated an entire chapter "Oils Well That Ends Well" in his book Dude, Where's My Country? to the end of the oil age and subsequent die off.
How will things progress once production peaks?
If you'd like to use history as a guide, I feel the following timeline is a reasonable approximation of what to expect in developed nations such as the United States:
1-5 years post-peak: Major recession comparable to those experienced during the artificially created oil shortages of the 1970's.
5-15 years post-peak: Recession worsens into a second Great Depression.
15-25 years post-peak: Society begins to collapse. Conditions in the United States begin to resemble those in the modern day former U.S.S.R.
25-50 years post-peak: Societal collapse worsens. Conditions in the United States begin to resemble those in modern day Iraq: electrical grid collapse, clean water shortages, super high unemployment, military police state. Many localities begin to resemble modern day third world countries such as Liberia.
50-100 years post-peak: Society begins to stabilize, albeit in a form drastically different than anything most of us have imagined.
If you want an in depth look at how things are likely to progress, read this when you get the chance.
Is it possible that we have already hit Peak Oil and are now in the first stages of the Oil Crash?
Yes. As stated above, we won't know we have hit the Peak until a few years after we hit it. Global oil production has dipped every year since 2000, so it is quite possible we've hit the peak.
Ample evidence exists that we are in the first stages of the Oil Crash. As of 12/03 the "adjusted" unemployment, which has been squeezed out of as much meaning as conceivably possible, still hovers in the 6% range. However, if you factor in the quality of employment, then the real numbers are closer to 12%-15%.
The rolling blackouts experienced in California during Fall 2000, the massive East Coast blackout of August, 2003 and the various other massive blackouts that occurred throughout the world during late summer of 2003, are simply a sign of things to come.
At te Paris Peak Oil Conference in May, 2003, Princeton Professor Kenneth Deffeyes, author of Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, explained that Peak Oil actually arrived in 2000 by noting that production has actually been declining since that time.
As further evidence of the production peak, Deffeyes noted that since 2000, there has been a 30% drop in stock values, interest rate cuts have not helped, 2.5 million have become unemployed and the employed have been unable to retire, budget surpluses have vanished, the middle class has vanished, and the World Trade Center has vanished.
What about alternatives like solar, wind, hydrogen etc?
Unfortunately, the ability of these alternatives to replace fossil fuels is based more in myth than in reality.
Fossil fuels account for more than 65% of our current global energy supply. None of the traditional alternatives to oil can supply anywhere near this much energy, let alone the amount we will need in the future as our population continues to grow and industrialize.
Let's briefly examine the various shortcomings of the more popular oil alternatives:
(The following data has been extensively researched by Bruce Thompson, moderator of the Yahoo Group, Running on Empty)
Natural Gas currently supplies 20% of global energy supply. It is not a sufficient replacement for fossil fuels for the following reasons:
1. Gas itself will start running out from 2020 on. Demand for natural gas in North America is already outstripping supply, especially as power utilities take the remaining gas to generate electricity.
2. Gas is not suited for existing jet aircraft, ships, vehicles, and equipment for agriculture and other products.
3. Conversion consumes large amounts of energy as well as money.
4. Natural gas also does not provide the huge array of chemical by-products that we depend on oil for.
Hydro-Electric power currently supplies 2.3% of global energy supply. It is not a sufficient replacement for fossil fuels for the following reasons:
1. It is unsuitable for aircrafts and the present 800 million existing vehicles.
2. It cannot be adapted to produce pesticides, fertilizer, or plastics.
Solar power currently supplies .006% of global energy supply. As a replacement for fossil fuels, it suffers from several deficiencies:
1. Energy from solar power varies constantly with weather or day/night.
2. Not practical for transportation needs. While a handful of small, experimental, solar powered vehicles have been built, solar power is unsuited for planes, boats, cars, tanks, etc. . .
3. Solar cannot be adapted to produce pesticides, fertilizer, or plastics.
4. Solar is susceptible to the effects of global climate change.
A typical solar water panel array can deliver 50% to 85% of a home’s hot water though. Using some of our precious remaining crude oil as fuel for manufacturing solar equipment may be wise.
Wind power accounts for .07% of global energy supply. As a replacement for fossil fuels, its problems are:
1. As with solar, energy from wind varies greatly with weather, and is not portable or storable like oil and gas.
2. Wind cannot be adapted to produce pesticides, fertilizer or plastics.
3. Like solar, wind is susceptible to the effects of global climate change.
Hydrogen accounts for 0.01% of global energy. It is not a true replacement for fossil fuels for the following reasons:
1. Hydrogen is currently manufactured from methane gas. It takes more energy to create it than the hydrogen actually provides. It is therefore an energy “carrier” not a source.
2. Liquid hydrogen occupies four to eleven times the bulk of equivalent gasoline or diesel.
3. Existing vehicles and aircraft and existing distribution systems are not suited to it.
4. Hydrogen cannot be used to manufacture plastics or fertilizer.
"Hydrogen Fuel Cells" should be called "Hydrogen Fool Cells." Dr. Jorg Wing, a representative of the auto giant Daimler/Chrysler made this clear at the Paris Peak Oil Conference when he explained that his company did not view hydrogen as a viable alternative to petroleum-based engines.
He stated that fuel cell vehicles would never amount to significant market share. Hydrogen was ruled out as a solution because of intensive costs of production, inherent energy inefficiencies, lack of infrastructure, and practical difficulties such as the extreme cost and difficulty of storage.
Nuclear is currently being abandoned globally. Its ability to soften the oil crash is very problematic due to several factors:
1. Possibility of accidents and terrorism.
2. Cost: one reactor costs about 3 billion dollars, and requires massive amounts of oil to construct.
3. Number of reactors needed: 800-1000 for the U.S. alone.
4. Not directly suited for transportation or agriculture.
5. Uranium requires energy from oil from in order to be mined.
6. All abandoned reactors are radioactive for decades or millennia.
7. Even if we were to overlook these problems, nuclear power is only a short-term solution. Uranium, too, has a Hubbert's peak, and the current known reserves can supply the earth's energy needs for only 25 years at best.
Coal accounts for 24% of current global energy supply. As a replacement for oil, it is unsuitable due to the following reasons:
1. It is 50% to 200% heavier than oil per energy unit.
2. Substituting coal for oil would require expansion of coal mining, leading to land ruin and increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
3. In contrast to oil and gas fuels, fine-tuning the rate at which coal burns is difficult. It is therefore used in power stations to make electricity, wasting half of its energy content.
4. Coal mining operations run on oil fuels as do coal-mining machinery and transportation.
5. Pollution is also a major problem. A single coal-fired station can produce a million tons of solid waste each year. Burning coal in homes pollutes air with acrid smog containing acid gases and particles. Finally, liquid fuels from coal are very inefficient, and huge amounts of water required.
Non-Conventional Sources Such as Shale, Tar Sand, & Coalbed Methane
These non-conventional sources currently account for 6% of US gas supply. Each of these alternatives would require a huge investment in research and infrastructure to exploit them, plus large amounts of now-expiring oil, before they could be brought online.
For example, in Canada about 200 thousand barrels a day are being produced in Alberta of non-conventional oil, but it takes about 2 barrels of oil in energy investment to produce 3 barrels of oil equivalent from those resources. Additionally, the environmental costs are horrendous and the process uses a tremendous amount of fresh water and also natural gas, both of which are in limited supply.
The major problem with non-conventional oil is that they cannot be exploited before the oil shocks cripple attempts to bring them on line, and the rate of extraction is far too slow to meet the huge global energy demand.
You're forgetting about biomass and ethanol. Can't we just grow our fuel?
In an article entitled The Post Petroleum Paradigm, retired Professor of Geology at the University of Oregon, Dr. Walter Youngquist addresses the severe limitations of biomass and ethanol. The following is an excerpt from that article:
Oil derived from plants is sometimes promoted as a fuel source to replace petroleum.
The facts and experience with ethanol are an example. Ethanol is a plant-derived alcohol (usually from corn) which is used today, chiefly in the form of gasohol, a mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. Because it is used to some extent,it is commonly thought that ethanol is a partially acceptable solution to the fuel problem for machines.
However, ethanol is an energy negative – it takes more energy to produce it than is obtained from ethanol.
Ethanol production is wasteful of fossil energy resources. About 71% more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy contained in a gallon of ethanol.
Ethanol production survives by the grace of a subsidy by the U.S. government from taxpayer dollars. Continuing the production of ethanol is purely a device for buying the Midwest U.S. farm vote, and may also be related to the fact that the company which makes 60% of U.S. ethanol is also one of the largest contributors of campaign money to the Congress – a distressing example of politics overriding logic.
I just read an article about some scientists who developed a new reactor that can turn ethanol into hydrogen. What do you have to say about that?
Here's the article.
1. See the above question on why ethanol isn't a true substitute for oil.
2. See the above question on why hydrogen isn't a true substitute for oil.
3. Ask yourself: How long would it take for this prototype to being implemented on a wide scale? How much would that cost? Can it be used to fuel airplanes, tanks, cargo ships, large trucks, construction equipment, manufacturing plants? Can it be used to produce fertilizer or plastics?
I think you know the answers.
What about that new technology that can turn anything into oil?
"Thermal depolymerization" which can transform many kinds of waste into oil, could help us raise our energy efficiency as we lose power due to oil depletion. While it could help us ameliorate the crash, it is not a true solution.
Like all other forms of alternative energy, we have run out of time to implement it before the crash. Currently, only one thermal depolymerization plant is operational. Thousands of such plants would need to come online before this technology would make even a small difference in our situation.
Furthermore, whatever comes out of the process must carry less useful energy than what went into the process, as required by the laws of thermodynamics. Finally, most of the waste input (such as plastics and tires) requires high grade oil to make in the first place.
The biggest problem with thermal depolymerization is that it is being advertised as a means to maintain business as usual. Such advertising promotes further consumption, provides us with a dangerously false sense of security, and encourages us to continue thinking that we don't need to make this issue a priority.
What about the "invisible hand" of the market and the laws of supply and demand? When oil gets too expensive, it will become more profitable to invest in renewables. At that point, we will just switch.
If the previous three questions have not made it perfectly clear that no alternative sources of energy currently exist that can replace oil and gas, then perhaps this quote from Michael Ruppert will help clarify the situation for you:
For all of the Pollyanna advocates of alternative energy who assure us that there is nothing to worry about, I suggest that they go and live in the northeast today and see how warm their windmills, solar panels, biomass and hydrogen myths keep them.
Where is the infrastructure to employ even the pitiful solutions that solar, wind and biomass might provide?
Furthermore, market indicators will likely come too late for us to implement whatever alternatives we have available. Once the price of oil gets high enough that people begin to seriously consider alternatives, those alternatives will become too expensive to implement on a wide scale. Reason: Oil is required to develop, manufacture, transport and implement oil alternatives such as solar panels, biomass and windmills.
There are many examples in history where a resource shortage spurned the development of alternative resources. Oil, however, is not just any resource. In our current world, it is the precondition for all other resources, including alternative ones.
Right now, a barrel of oil costs $30. It would cost between $100-$250 to get the amount of energy in that barrel of oil from renewable sources.
This means that an energy company won't be motivated to aggressively pursue renewable energy until the cost of oil double, triples, or quadruples.
At that point, our economy will be close to devastated. Our ability to implement renewables will be completely crippled.
In pragmatic terms, this means that if you want your home powered by solar panels or windmills, you had better do it soon. If you don't have these alternatives in place when the lights go out, they're going to stay out.
So are these alternatives useless?
No, not at all. Whatever civilization emerges after the crash will likely derive a good deal of their energy from these technologies.
While traditional alternatives such as solar and wind are certainly worth investing in, they are in no way the magic bullets they are so often advertised as.
The following is an excerpt from Professor Richard Heinberg's book, The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Civilizations, in which he explains why the notion that "All we have to do is switch to solar, wind., etc . . ." is delusional in its' simplicity:
Clearly, we will need to find substitutes for oil. But an analysis of the current energy alternatives is not reassuring.
The hard math of energy resource analysis yields an uncomfortable but unavoidable prospect: even if efforts are intensified now to switch to alternative energy sources, after the oil peak industrial nations will have less energy available to do useful work - including the manufacturing and transporting of goods, the growing of food, and the heating of homes.
To be sure, we should be investing in alternatives and converting our industrial infrastructure to use them. If there is any solution to industrial societies' approaching energy crises, renewables plus conservation will provide it. Yet in order to achieve a smooth transition from non-renewables to renewables, decades will be needed - and we do not have decades before the peaks in the extraction rates of oil and natural gas occur.
Moreover, even in the best case, the transition will require the massive shifting of investment from other sectors of the economy (such as the military) toward energy research and conservation. And the available alternatives will likely be unable to support the kinds of transportation, food, and dwelling infrastructure we now have; thus the transition will entail an almost complete redesign of industrial societies.
I just read an article that states that known oil reserves keep growing.
That article is most likely citing the U.S. government agency such as the United States Geological Survey or the Energy Information Agency (EIA). While USGS and EIA reports on past production are largely reliable, their predictions for the future are largely propaganda.
They admit this themselves. For instance, after recently revising oil supply projections upward, the EIA stated:
These adjustments to the estimates are based on non-technical considerations that support domestic supply growth to the levels necessary to meet projected demand levels.
In other words, they predict how much they think we're going to use, and then tell us, "Guess what, nothing to worry about - that is how much we've got!"
The oil companies are so greedy that they will come up with an alternative to keep making money, right?
Expecting the oil companies to save you from the oil crash is about as wise as expecting the tobacco companies to save you from lung cancer.
As explained above, corporate officers are bound by law to do what is in the best interests of the corporation, so long as their actions are legal. Their legal obligation is to make money for the company, not to save the world.
None of the currently available alternatives have anywhere near the profit margin that oil does. Thus, even if an oil executive wanted to "do the right thing" and pursue oil alternatives, it is illegal for her to do so if it is not in the best interests of the company.
At the Paris Peak Oil Conference, Dutch economist Maarten Van Mourik of the Netherlands Economic Institute explained that because of the financial shortcomings of all currently available forms of alternative energy, a sudden crash is the profitable solution for the oil companies.
Furthermore, according to Dr. Colin Campbell:
"The major oil companies are merging and downsizing and outsourcing and not investing in new refineries because they know full well that production is set to decline and that the exploration opportunities are getting less and less.
The companies have to sing to the stock market, and merger hides the collapse of the weaker brethren. The staff is purged on merger and the combined budget ends up much less than the sum of the previous components. Besides, a lot of the executives and bankers make a lot of money from the merger."
Expecting the oil companies, the government, or anybody else to solve this problem for us is simply suicidal. You, me, and every other "regular person" needs to be actively engaged in addressing this issue if there is to be any hope for humanity.
Didn't the Club of Rome make this exact same prediction back in the 70's?
Unfortunately, the Club of Rome turned out to be correct.
Says who? None other than Matthew Simmons, who stated in 2000, "In hindsight, The Club of Rome turned out to be right. We simply wasted 30 important years by ignoring this work."
(scroll down to "Simmons")
I think you are underestimating the human spirit. Humanity always adapts to challenges. We will just adapt to this too.
Absolutely, we will adapt. Part of that adaptation process will include most of us dying if we don't take massive action right now.
The human spirit is capable of some miraculous things. We need a miracle right now, so the human spirit had better get its' ass in gear, pronto.
Unfortunately, there is no law that says when humanity adapts to a resource shortage, everybody gets to survive. Think of any mass tragedy connected to resources such as oil, land, food, labor (slaves) buffalo, etc. . The societies affected usually survive, but in a drastically different and often unrecognizable form.
We'll think of something. We always do. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Yes, and lots of cheap oil has been the father of invention for the past 150 years. No invention has been mass produced without it.
The end of the oil age is a life and death game. If you want to live, you cannot just dismiss this issue with a cavalier, "Oh, somebody will think of something."
What about "New" energy. Didn't Nikola Tesla invent some machine that produced lots of energy?
Compared to traditional alternatives such as solar and wind, "New Energy" has both advantages and disadvantages in terms of helping us cope with the crisis.
1. Potential to produce enough energy to make a real difference.
2. Compact and portable.
1. We get absolutely zero percent of our current energy from New Energy.
2. No functional prototypes as of 2/2004.
If you would like to know more, look through Infinite Energy Magazine or read Dr. Eugene Mallove's article, Universal Appeal for Support for New Energy Science.
Article From: http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net