It is emerging that world oil stocks are far lower than previously thought, and affordable oil may not even last until the end of the decade. This explains the US government’s sudden interest in renewable energy and of course their foray into Iraq. It also means that off-grid energy solutions are going to become much more popular as the news seeps through.
Matthew Simmons, a former adviser to President Bush’s administration was recently reported as saying: “Any serious analysis now shows solid evidence that the non-FSU [former Soviet Union], non-Opec [Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries] oil has certainly petered out…”
No cheap oil, no cheap food.
“From The Wilderness” reported Simmons saying: “I think basically that peaking of oil will never be accurately predicted until after the fact. But the event will occur, and my analysis is… that peaking is at hand, not years away. “If I’m right, the unforeseen consequences are devastating… If the world’s oil supply does peak, the world’s issues start to look very different. “
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“There really aren’t any good energy solutions for bridges, to buy some time, from oil and gas to the alternatives. The only alternative right now is to shrink our economies.”
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Aspo suggests the key date is not when the oil runs out, but when production peaks, meaning supplies decline. It believes the peak may come by about 2010.
Fundamental change may be closing on us fast. And even if the oil is there, we may do better to leave it untouched.
Many scientists are arguing for cuts in emissions of the main greenhouse gas we produce, carbon dioxide, by at least 60% by mid-century, to try to avoid runaway climate change.
That would mean burning far less oil than today, not looking for more. There are other forms of energy, and many are falling fast in price and will soon compete with oil on cost, if not for convenience.
So there is every reason to plan for the post-oil age. Does it have to be devastating? Different, yes – but our forebears lived without oil and thought themselves none the worse.
We shall have to do the same, so we might as well make the best of it. And the best might even be an improvement on today.