Has the World Reached Peak Oil Production?
I've decided to do a blog on "Peak Oil". This subject reached my attention when I read a brief article about it, so I decided to do a little independent research and I was startled by what I found.
Just in case you're not familiar with the term "peak oil", what it refers to is the point in history where the world has reach it's peak of oil production- a good part of the easily pump-able oil has been pumped, and of course we still have the oil that is locked in shale and sand, but it is difficult and expensive to extract. It means that the world's oil production will start a gradual decline and oil prices will begin to creep up.
Now, mind you, everything that I post here comes from my recent readings on the subject, so this is not a scientific study, and I'm putting this up strictly as my humble opinion based on what I learned. I read about 20 articles and reports, many from the USA, but some translated from other countries such as Japan, India, England and Germany.
This all got started after I saw a brief blurb about "peak oil" and I thought to myself; "Hmm! I remember reading about that when I was in school during the 70's, but I haven't heard it mentioned since- I'll have to look into it some more and refresh my memory." The initial article painted a rather grim picture of what the world was going to face over the coming decades and I wondered if this was another Chicken Little scheme that was being trotted out before the public like the acid rain scares we had years ago. I was surprised to find that just about every source I read agrees that if we haven't reached peak oil production yet, that we are just about to.
Hubbert curve graph for world oil production.
Most studies dating back to the 1950's all the way to more recent times have speculated that we would reach peak oil production around 2000 to 2020. They said that oil prices would start to climb and the housing and job markets would begin to suffer. So far, they're right on the money. Of course, there are several variables thrown into the mix that would affect the housing and job markets, and, the older studies did not foresee that China and India would increase their energy demands so rapidly, which could cause oil production to peak earlier than was originally estimated. Japan and India are both starting to plan for peak oil by building more coal fueled power plants, and my cousin recently returned from China (his wife is Chinese, so they went to visit her homeland) and he sent this in an email: "It's pretty scary how quickly they are developing. There is construction going on all over the place. Even before I left for China, I knew they are putting up one coal-based power plant every week! If they don't address their pollution, they will start having serious health issues, and they will soon be the world's largest polluting country..." He was more interested in the polluting aspects of what he was seeing, but I had to wonder if the "One coal-based power plant a week" was also part of the Chinese plan to meet their energy demands in the face of possible soon-to-be declining oil production.
No one will know for sure if we have reached peak oil production until after it happens, when we see that the amount of oil produced is actually in a definite fall. It will take a long time before we actually run out of oil (20 to 30 years by some estimates) so we do have time to prepare so we can avoid being thrown into chaos- especially if we plan for the future and start making subtle changes in our life styles that will help us adjust to this new chapter in world history.
Every article that mentions the aftermath of life in the decades after peak oil says that people will have to learn to live differently and have different expectations of how much energy they will have to use. There are a number of sources of energy that we will be able to tap into, such as solar, wind, hydro, etc., but there aren't enough materials in the world for those natural forces to be harnessed to keep up with our current rate of consumption; mostly, we lack the metals to make the components that transforms the raw energy into electricity that will power our homes and businesses. Bio-fuels are not apt to be used to any great extent because we'll need most of our farm land to produce food, not fuel our vehicles. Also, there isn't enough uranium to consider building more nuclear power plants.
The articles go on to say that the railroads are the most efficient form of transport and most likely will become the most common way of moving people and freight again. They expect that people will start dealing with small mom & pop types of businesses again and eating more locally grown food. More people will be living with extended family (think The Walton's, Grandma & Grandpa, Mom & Dad and all the kids in one house) and many will have their own back yard gardens and chicken coops, etc, who never would have considered such things before. People will have less 'stuff' and there will be fewer things to purchase in the stores. They probably will not have hair dryers and Cuisinarts and other things like that and will save what electricity they can produce for refrigeration and other necessities.
I hope I'm not coming off as a hand-wringer here, as that is not my intention. This will be a challenge that we can rise to and not only survive but we can persevere. Who knows how far into the future we are talking about, but there's no doubt that the day will come. I encourage everyone to do their own research into this and decide for themselves if it is time to begin to plan for what will eventually happen and act on it.
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Updated: 11:17 AM GMT on June 09, 2008
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Remembering to honor on Memorial Day / The Penny-pincher's Blog!
5/23/08 Memorial Day Weekend Update:
Hello Fellow Bloggers!
I haven't been around the blogs much lately; Lorne & I have been going through some tough times and we're just trying to hang tight together until happier days return. As always, we are a strong team and we know we will survive these months that are trying to even the most dedicated penny-pincher's, but i just haven't felt like being all that upbeat and social so I've been keeping a low profile.
That said, I still wanted to put something up on my blog in honor of our Country's heroes in time for the Memorial Day Weekend. It is a sad day of remembrance but also a good time to thank our Vets and those currently serving in our military. THANK YOU ALL!
I see that there are numerous blogs out about the general concern regarding finances as we all worry about how we're going to continue to deal with the steep increase of the cost of living while jobs become scarcer and those available pay less and less. Hubby Lorne & I have been caught in the crunch right along with everyone else, so I think it's time to bring back the Penny-pincher's Blog, originally posted by me a few years ago. Many of you had great suggestions on how to save money and it's my hope that we may be able to help one another come up with some new ideas!
Come on, Folks! What do you do to make your dollars stretch farther these day?
Buy a goat or two? (These girls are a few of the goats I used to have in my homesteading days.)
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Updated: 5:24 PM GMT on May 23, 2008
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