[saymaListserv] Peak Oil

Daryl Bergquist earthsteward at urisp.net
Thu Mar 3 11:30:17 JEST 2005

Dear Friends,

Through my work as a solar and energy efficiency consultant, I have been 
introduced to and found useful, the concepts of Peak Oil.  In the 
context of unfolding world events such as the rising price of oil,  I 
have become clear that it is time to share these concepts so that you my 
friends, and others, may use them to help understand our current 
situation. It is my hope that these understandings can aid and empower 
us to act constructively for our collective future.

_Peak Oil is the understanding that:_
Oil (and natural gas) are limited resources.
We are extracting and consuming them at an ever increasing rates.
This rate is orders of magnitude greater than they being replenished.
Therefore, at some point the rate at which we extract and consume them 
will stop increasing and begin to decline.
This point is referred  to as the Peak.

_There are several corollaries to Peak Oil:_
The peak can only be determined in retrospect.
The peak occurs when approximately half of the resource has been extracted.
Through major effort and expense, the peak can be slightly postponed, 
and the resultant decline will be sharper and more problematic.
The peak marks the end of the era of abundant cheap oil, after that oil 
will become increasingly more scarce and the price will continue to rise.

The peak will come, extraction and consumption of oil and natural gas 
will decline.
The questions are: When will the peak occur? What does this mean? What 
can we do?

This is the big question.
The longest predicted time is a couple of decades from now.
Many sources indicate that the peak is imminent or has already occurred.

Some relevant information:

According to the US Census Bureau and the U.S. Energy Information 
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/petroleu.html#IntlConsumption ,
the current resident U.S. population is 4.6% of the world's population and
we consume just over 25% of the world's oil consumption.
This is 5.4 times our share.
The U.S. has used exponentially more oil each year since 2001.

China, and to a lesser extent India, are rapidly increasing their demand 
for oil as they industrialize.

The International Energy Agency in its  2/10/05  Oil Market Report  
predicts that  world demand for oil will exceed world supply in the 
first quarter of 2005.   http://omrpublic.iea.org/

The Senior Vice President of Exxon Mobile recently stated that due to 
the 4% to 6% declining output of existing fields,  meeting expected 
world oil demand for 2020  is nearly equivalent to replacing all of 
today's daily production. 

Many financial analysts are speculating that soon supplies for oil will 
be inadequate for demand. They speak of declining fields, oil companies 
not replacing the oil they extract with new reserves, and oil exporting 
countries (like Indonesia, currently a member of OPEC) becoming oil 
importers.   A Google search of  "oil prices"  has found such articles 

Some countries are preparing for a transition to alternatives.  
Governments in Japan and several European countries are encouraging wind 
and photovoltaic (solar) electricity generation. Germany purchased half 
of the world's production of photovoltaic (solar electric) modules last 
year. Due to the increased demand, photovoltaic modules are increasing 
in price and lead time for delivery.

There will be less and less oil and we will be paying more and more for it.
This is significant because:
The majority of the worlds energy and the feedstock for many materials 
comes from oil and gas.
The world's finances are based on an economy that must expand to remain 
Over the past century, an ever increasing consumption of oil has fed 
this expansion.
The world's supply and therefore, consumption of oil will soon be 

Reduce our consumption of oil and gas for the following activities:
Transportation (including for food and supplies).
Heating and cooling.
Lighting, appliances and water heating.
Agriculture and manufacturing

Cooperate - use the same energy for several people (like sharing rides)
Energy efficiency - use less energy to accomplish the same tasks
Conservation - doing less and wasting less
Co-generation - use the same energy to accomplish multiple tasks
Renewable energy - sun, wind, small-scale hydro, bio fuels
Growing food and providing other needs locally
Integrated whole systems design (including design of communities)

Useful knowledge and technologies exist (and more are being developed 
every day).
We need to apply them wisely.
This means a change in how we, as a society, live.
 From my own experience, it can be a change for the better.

Toward a world that works for all,

Daryl Bergquist

Earth Steward Consulting
442 Red Maple Road, Blountsville, AL 35051
(205) 429-3088
earthsteward at urisp.net <mailto:earthsteward at urisp.net>


The best overview article I've found on Peak Oil. Includes a description 
of Marion Hubbert's successful prediction in the 1950s of the peak and 
subsequent decline of oil extraction in the continental U.S. which 
occurred in the early 1970s. Discusses implications and alternatives for 
today and for the future. From the newsletter of California Institute of 

The Oil Depletion Analysis Center provides links to many articles on 
Peak Oil,   http://www.odac-info.org/

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas provides analysis and 
predictions regarding Peak Oil.  They currently predict that world oil 
production will peak in 2006.   http://www.peakoil.net/

Community Solutions promotes small local self reliant communities as a 
solution to Peak Oil.   http://www.communitysolution.org/

"Winning the Oil Endgame" is a book from the Rocky Mountain Institute.  
It promotes a business solution to dwindling oil that relies on 
increased efficiency, lighter weight cars, biofuels, fuel cells and 
renewable energy.   http://www.oilendgame.org/

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