Peak Oil: a brief introduction
Please view the following valuable links for more information on peak oil:
- new Peak Oil Petition - sign up by 29th July 2008
- My petition (now closed) - Gordon Brown pretty much just ignored it
- The Oil Drum - intelligent discussion about peak oil and energy
- GlobalPublicMedia.com - audio and video downloads relating to peak oil
- PeakOil.com - peak oil news and discussion boards
- Power Switch UK - raising awareness of Britain's energy future
- All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil & Gas - over 25 MPs and 7 Lords who understand peak oil
In early 2004 I heard about peak oil and have been researching the issue since. My dissertation for my sociology degree can be read online, with the title No Jobs & No Oil: the unsustainability of full employment and cheap energy.
Peak oil is a phrase often used to describe the situation when global oil supplies reach a peak. Following this peak, oil supplies decrease and never rise again. Leading geophysicists predict that peak is either currently occuring, or will have occured by 2015. Meanwhile, demand for oil continues to increase at an extraordinairy rate.
Peak oil will force us to look at the world differently. We will have to reduce our consumption because prices will force us to and not because of attempts to be green and environmentally friendly. Fossil fuels provide us with an enormous amount of energy, and there are no equally cheap, useful and abundant alternatives. We rely primarily on fossil fuels for our food, our transportation, our heating, our lighting and all our electronic gadgetry. Because of the energy required to produce any good or service, we need energy prices to remain low in order for all other prices to remain low. With oil depletion, energy prices will rise as supply fails to keep up with rampant demand.
Following peak oil the world will enter a new phase. The globalization of production will end with global relocalization replacing it. Industrialism - whether communist or capitalist - will cease to be viable, and consumer-focused societies will become redundant. Suburbia will fail spectacularly as soaring petrol prices make the long distances required to travel between work, home and leisure unviable. The entire economy will change - many people will likely work the land as they did in the past, with 'own-work' replacing paid employment across the board.
Peak oil is not an Internet conspiracy theory or an urban legend or myth. It is fact. If one accepts that oil is a finite resource - that there is a certain amount of it in the earth, and more cannot be produced without millions of years - then it follows that one must also accept that the production of oil will peak at some point. All that is therefore questionable is the date when oil will peak and whether or not alternatives are possible. Oil geologists predict a peak before 2015, possibly sooner; scientists are currently failing to find a viable alternative, or even something close. It is quite possible - given the nature of energy - that an alternative does not exist.
I strongly encourage all readers to research peak oil and make preparations for it. The population of the world is living in a dangerous consensus trance: a wake up call is urgently needed.
Jake Gordon (November 2004: Nottingham, England)