Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Peak oil

Posted by alifinmath on April 13, 2008

This is a piece by a prof of conservation biology:

Most of the world’s oil pumps are about to shut down.

We have sufficient supply to keep the world running for 30 years or so, at the current level of demand. But that’s irrelevant because the days of inexpensive oil are behind us. And the American Empire absolutely demands cheap oil.

We passed the world oil peak in 2005, and we’ve been easing down the other side by acquiring oil at the point of a gun – actually, guns are the smallest of the many weapons we’re using – paying more for oil and destroying one culture after another as the high price of crude oil forces supply disruptions and power outages in Third World countries.

The world peaked at 74.3 million barrels per day in May 2005. The two-year decline to 73.2 million barrels per day produced a doubling of the price of crude. Later this year, we fall off the oil-supply cliff, with global supply plummeting below 70 million barrels/day. Oil at merely $100 per barrel will seem like the good old days.

Within a decade, we’ll be staring down the barrel of a crisis: Oil at $400 per barrel brings down the American Empire, the project of globalization and water coming through the taps. Never mind happy motoring through the never-ending suburbs in the Valley of the Sun. In a decade, unemployment will be approaching 100 percent, inflation will be running at 1,000 percent and central heating will be a pipe dream.

In short, this country will be well on its way to the post-industrial Stone Age.

Ninety percent of the oil consumed in this country is burned by airplanes, ships, trains and automobiles. You can kiss goodbye groceries at the local big-box grocery store: Our entire system of food production and delivery depends on cheap oil.

If you’re alive in a decade, it will be because you’ve figured out how to forage locally.

For individuals interested in making other arrangements, it’s time to start acquiring myriad requisite skills.

Painful though it might be, it’s time to abandon the cruise ship of empire in exchange for a lifeboat.

He may have a point. When the Soviet empire came down, a lot of Russians stayed alive simply because they grew veggies on their small allotments to supplement other sources of income (if any). An American observer in St. Petersburg in the late ’90s observed all the cats had vanished: they’d all been eaten. It’s plausible that the energy-intensive USA could come tumbling down in like manner (maybe even more apocalyptically). As for myself, I’ve always lived (relatively) frugally. Bought my first car when I was 44 (needed it to drive to work) and sold it a couple of years later.

 

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