[saymaListserv] Peak Oil
earthsteward at urisp.net
Thu Mar 3 11:30:17 JEST 2005
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
The questions are: When will the peak occur? What does this mean? What
can we do?
WHEN WILL THE PEAK OCCUR?
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
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.
WHAT THIS MEANS:
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
The world's supply and therefore, consumption of oil will soon be
WHAT WE CAN DO:
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
HOW WE DO THIS:
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
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,
Earth Steward Consulting
442 Red Maple Road, Blountsville, AL 35051
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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