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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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."
Oil has caused me to seriously question how realistic this vision
of my life is.
you're 25 or 75, an attorney or an auto mechanic, what you are
about to read will shake the foundations of your life.
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.
is "Peak Oil"?
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.
simply: oil is abundant and cheap on the upslope, scarce and expensive
on the downslope.
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.
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.
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 (appoximately 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
more demand for oil exceeds production of oil, the higher the
the question is not "When will we run out of oil?" but
rather, "When will we run out of cheap oil?"
will Peak Oil occur?
most wildly optimistic estimates indicate 2020 will be the year
in which worldwide oil production peaks. Generally, these estimates
come from the government.
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
energy industry has quietly acknowledged the seriousness of the
situation. For instance, the president of Exxon Mobil Exploration
Company, Jon Thompson, recently stated:
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.
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.
Mr. Thompson is that frankin 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)
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."
sounds pretty bad, but if gas prices get too high, I'll just carpool
or take public transportation more. What's the big deal?
every current human endeavor from transportation, to manufacturing,
to electricity to plastics, and especially food production is
inextricably intertwined with oil and natural gas supplies.
food production is oil powered. Most pesticides are petroleum
(oil) based, and all commercial fertilizers are ammonia based.
Ammonia is produced from natural gas.
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.
allowed for farming implements such as tractors, food storage
systems such as refrigerators, and food transport systems such
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.
is also 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
. . .
are now at a point where the demand for food/oil continues to
rise, while our ability to produce it in an affordable fashion
is about to drop.
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.
is required for a lot more than just food, medicine, and transportation.
It is also required for nearly every consumer item, water supply
pumping, sewage disposal, garbage disposal, street/park maintenance,
hospitals & health systems, police, fire services, and national
as you are probably already aware, wars are often fought over
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.
is known as the post-oil "die-off". The term "die-off"
captures perfectly the nightmare that is at our doorstep
do you mean by "die-off"?
the full article here.