Oil expert Matt Savinar writes: Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky conclusion of a religious cult, but rather the result of diligent analysis sourced by hard data and the scientists who study global Peak Oil and related geo-political events.
So who are these nay-sayers who claim the sky is falling Conspiracy fanatics Apocalypse Bible prophesy readers To the contrary, they are some of the most respected, highest paid geologists and experts in the world. And this is what's so scary.
The situation is so dire that even George W. Bush's Energy Adviser, Matthew Simmons, has acknowledged that "The situation is desperate. This is the world's biggest serious question."
According to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, "America faces a major energy supply crisis over the next two decades. The failure to meet this challenge will threaten our nation's economic prosperity, compromise our national security, and literally alter the way we lead our lives."
If you are like 99% of the people reading this letter, you have never heard of the term "Peak Oil". I had not heard the term until a few months ago. Since learning about Peak Oil, I have had my world view, and basic assumptions about my own individual future turned completely upside down.
A little about myself: A few months ago, I was a 25 year old law school graduate who found out he had just passed the California Bar Exam. I was excited about a potentially long and prosperous career in the legal profession, getting married, having kids, contributing to my community, and living the "American Dream."
Peak Oil has caused me to seriously question how realistic this vision of my life is.
Whether you're 25 or 75, an attorney or an auto mechanic, what you are about to read will shake the foundations of your life.
Below you find a brief explanation of Peak Oil, the ramifications, and what we can do about it. For the sake of simplicity, I have designed the following explanation for somebody unfamiliar with Peak Oil. If you would like more in depth explanations with graphs, charts, and the like, please consult the extensive interviews, articles and sites I have linked to throughout this site.
What is "Peak Oil"
All oil production follows a bell curve, whether in an individual field or on the planet as a whole. On the upslope of the curve production costs are significantly lower than on the downslope when extra effort (expense) is required to extract oil from reservoirs that are emptying out.
Put simply: oil is abundant and cheap on the upslope, scarce and expensive on the downslope.
For the past 150 years, we have been moving up the upslope of the global oil production curve. "Peak Oil" is the industry term for the top of the curve. It's often referred to as "Hubbert's Peak" a reference to King Hubbert, the geologist who discovered that oil production follows a bell curve.
Once we pass the peak, we will go down the very steep downslope. The further we go down the slope, the more it costs to produce oil, and its cousin, natural gas.
In practical terms, this means that if 2000 was the year of Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2020 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world's population in 2020 will be both much larger (by approximately 200%) and much more industrialized than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace the worldwide production of oil by a significant margin.
The more demand for oil exceeds production of oil, the higher the price goes.
Ultimately, the question is not "When will we run out of oil" but rather, "When will we run out of cheap oil"
When will Peak Oil occur
The most wildly optimistic estimates indicate 2020 will be the year in which worldwide oil production peaks. Generally, these estimates come from the government.
A more realistic estimate is between the year 2004-2010. Unfortunately, we won't know that we hit the peak until 3-4 years after we actually hit it. Even on the upslope of the curve, oil production varies a bit from year to year. It is possible that the year 2000 was the year of peak oil production, as production has dipped every year since.
The energy industry has quietly acknowledged the seriousness of the situation. For instance, the president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company, Jon Thompson, recently stated, "By 2015, we will need to find, develop and produce a volume of new oil and gas that is equal to eight out of every 10 barrels being produced today." In 1999, Mike Bowlin, the Chairman and CEO of ARCO stated, "We've embarked on the beginning of the last days of the age of oil."
Even the Saudis are aware of the situation. They have a saying that goes, "My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel."
That sounds pretty bad, but if gas prices get too high, I'll just carpool or take public transportation more. What's the big deal
Almost every current human endeavor from transportation, to manufacturing, to electricity to plastics, and especially food production is inextricably intertwined with oil and natural gas supplies.
Commercial food production is oil powered. Most pesticides are petroleum (oil) based, and all commercial fertilizers are ammonia based. Ammonia is produced from natural gas.
Oil based agriculture is primarily responsible for the world's population exploding from 1 billion at the middle of the 19th century to 6.3 billion at the turn of the 21st.
Oil allowed for farming implements such as tractors, food storage systems such as refrigerators, and food transport systems such as trucks.
As oil production went up, so did food production. As food production went up, so did the population. As the population went up, the demand for food went up, which increased the demand for oil.
Oil is also largely responsible for the advances in medicine that have been made in the last 150 years. Oil allowed for the mass production of pharmaceutical drugs, and the development of health care infrastructure such as hospitals, ambulances, roads, etc . . .
We are now at a point where the demand for food/oil continues to rise, while our ability to produce it in an affordable fashion is about to drop.
Within a few years of Peak Oil occurring, the price of food will skyrocket because of the cost of fertilizer will soar. The cost of storing (electricity) and transporting (gasoline) the food that is produced will also soar.
Oil is required for a lot more than just food, medicine, and transportation. It is also required for nearly every consumer item, water supply pumping, sewage disposal, garbage disposal, street/park maintenance, hospitals & health systems, police, fire services, and national defense.
Additionally, as you are probably already aware, wars are often fought over oil.
Thus, the aftermath of Peak Oil will extend far beyond how much you will pay for gas. Simply stated, you can expect: war, starvation, economic collapse, possibly even the extinction of Homo sapiens.
This is known as the post-oil "die-off". The term "die-off" captures perfectly the nightmare that is at our doorstep
What do you mean by "die-off"
Exactly what it sounds like. It is estimated that the world's population will contract to 500 million during the Oil Crash. (current world population: 6 billion)
5.5 billion deaths That is ridiculous. I could see that things might get pretty bad, but the idea that 90% of the world's population could die is ludicrous! Did you just pull that number out of your ass
Far from it. That estimate comes from biologists who have studied what happens to every species when it exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment in one life giving aspect or another.
For instance, bacteria in a petri dish will grow exponentially until they run out of resources, at which point their population will crash. Only one generation prior to the crash, the bacteria will have used up half the resources available to them. To the bacteria, there will be no hint of a problem until they starve to death.
While comparing humans to bacteria in a petri dish is a bit uncomfortable, the similarities are numerous:
The first commercial oil well was drilled in 1859. At that time, the world's population was about 1 billion. Less than 150 years later, our population has exploded to 6.3 billion. In that time, we have used up half the world's recoverable oil. Of the half that's left, most will be very expensive to extract . If the experts are correct, we are less than one generation away from a crash. Yet to most of us, there appears to be no hint of a problem.
We need not look solely to the petri dish to predict what will happen to the planet. We can look to our own history.
Take the case of the famous Irish potato famine. For well over a century, year after steady year, the British encouraged and the Irish developed a near-total dependency upon a single dietary mainstay, the potato, and the population of the island grew from 2 million people to more than 8 million.
Then suddenly in 1845, a parasitic fungus turned the potatoes into sticky, inedible, mucous globs. Within a generation the country was devastated, more than half the population died or emigrated, and those who remained were reduced to a poverty that diminished only a century later.
In some ways, our situation is more like that of the bacteria than that of the Irish. The severity of the potato famine was offset by the fact that many of the Irish could emigrate to the land of plenty: America. This allowed those who remained to make the most of what little resources were left.
Like the bacteria in the petri dish, we have nowhere else to go.
But we do have WMD to toss at each other.
After we hit the peak, how are things likely to progress
According to Professor Richard Heinberg:
1. Rising petrol prices.
2. Increase in cost of living.
3. Increase in death due to starvation (most likely to be seen in the 3rd world first).
4. War (pre-emptive) for resource rich areas.
5. Economic collapse and further chaos (mass scale starvation affecting the globe, increasing war, and potentially cannibalism due to food shortages and all that fresh meat laying around).
6. Restablization resulting from reduced numbers of humans and conservation of remaining resources (enough to potentially last another 100 years).
How will this compare to past events like the Great Depression
If you'd like to use history as a guide, I feel the following timeline is a reasonable approximation of what to expect in developed nations such as the United States:
1-5 years post-peak: Major recession comparable to those experienced during the artificially created oil shortages of the 1970's.
5-15 years post-peak: Recession worsens into a second Great Depression.
15-25 years post-peak: Society begins to collapse. Conditions in the United States begin to resemble those in the modern day former U.S.S.R.
25-50 years post-peak: Societal collapse worsens. Conditions in the United States begin to resemble those in modern day Iraq: electrical grid collapse, clean water shortages, super high unemployment, military police state.
50-100 years post-peak: Society begins to stabilize, albeit in a form drastically different than anything most of us have imagined.
Is it possible that we have already hit Peak Oil and are now in the first stages of the Oil Crash
Yes. As stated above, we won't know we have hit the Peak until a few years after we hit it. Global oil production has dipped every year since 2000, so it is quite possible we've hit the peak.
Ample evidence exists that we are in the first stages of the Oil Crash. In the last year (2003), the cost of food has risen 16%-25%. Health care costs have risen 15%. Education costs have risen 20%. These are often excluded from measures of inflation because they are considered "volatile".
As of 12/03 the "adjusted" unemployment, which has been squeezed out of as much meaning as conceivably possible, still hovers in the 6% range. However, if you factor in the quality of employment, then the real numbers are closer to 12%-15%.
The rolling blackouts experienced in California during Fall 2000, the massive East Coast blackout of August, 2003 and the various other massive blackouts that occurred throughout the world during late summer of 2003, while not directly related to Peak Oil, are simply a sign of things to come.
At the Paris Peak Oil Conference in May, 2003, Princeton Professor Kenneth Deffeyes, author of Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, explained that Peak Oil actually arrived in 2000 by noting that production has actually been declining since that time.
As further evidence of the production peak, Deffeyes noted that since 2000, there has been a 30% drop in stock values, interest rate cuts have not helped, 2.5 million have become unemployed and the employed have been unable to retire, budget surpluses have vanished, the middle class has vanished, and the World Trade Center has vanished.
What about alternatives like solar, wind, hydrogen etc
Unfortunately, the ability of these alternatives to replace fossil fuels is based more in myth than reality.
Fossil fuels account for 65% of our current global energy supply. None of the traditional alternatives can supply anywhere near this much energy, let alone the amount we will need in the future as our population continues to grow and industrialize.
Let's briefly examine the commonly proposed oil alternatives:
(The following data has been extensively researched by Bruce Thompson, moderator of the Yahoo Group, Running on Empty)
Natural Gas: Natural Gas currently supplies 20% of global energy supply. Gas itself will start running out from 2020 on. Demand for natural gas in North America is already outstripping supply, especially as power utilities take the remaining gas to generate electricity. Gas is not suited for existing jet aircraft, ships, vehicles, and equipment for agriculture and other products. Conversion consumes large amounts of energy as well as money. Natural gas also does not provide the huge array of chemical by-products that we depend on oil for.
Hydro-Electric: Hydro-Electric power currently accounts for 2.3% of global energy supply, compared with the 40% provided by oil. It is unsuitable for aircrafts and the present 800 million existing vehicles.
Solar: Solar power accounts for .006% of global energy supply. Energy varies constantly with weather or day/night. Not storable or portable energy like oil or natural gas so unsuited for present vehicles and industry. Batteries bulky, expensive, wear out in 5-10 years.
A typical solar water panel array can deliver 50% to 85% of a homes hot water though. Using some of our precious remaining crude oil as fuel for manufacturing solar equipment may be wise.
Wind: Wind power accounts for .07% of global energy supply. As with solar, energy varies greatly with weather, and is not portable or storable like oil and gas. Wind can not supply oil derivatives such as fertilizer or plastics.
Hydrogen: Hydrogen accounts for 0.01% of global energy. Hydrogen is currently manufactured from methane gas. It takes more energy to create it than the hydrogen actually provides. It is therefore an energy carrier not a source. Liquid hydrogen occupies four to eleven times the bulk of equivalent gasoline or diesel. Existing vehicles and aircraft and existing distribution systems are not suited to it. Solar hydrogen might be an option in some of the hot countries.
Nuclear: Nuclear is currently being abandoned globally. Its ability to soften the oil crash is very problematic due to several factors:
1. Possibility of accidents and terrorism.
2. Cost: one reactor costs about 13 billion dollars.
3. Number of reactors needed: 1,000's
4. Not directly suited for transportation or agriculture.
5. Uranium requires energy from oil from in order to be mined.
6. All abandoned reactors are radioactive for decades or millennia.
7. Even if we were to overlook these problems, nuclear power is only a short-term solution. Uranium, too, has a Hubbert's peak, and the current known reserves can supply the earth's energy needs for only 25 years at best.
Coal: Coal accounts for 24% of current global energy supply. As a replacement for oil, it is unsuitable due to the fact that it is 50% to 200% heavier than oil per energy unit. Substituting coal for oil would require expansion of coal mining, leading to land ruin and increase in greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast to oil and gas fuels, fine-tuning the rate at which coal burns is difficult. It is therefore used in power stations to make electricity, wasting half of its energy content.
Coal mining operations run on oil fuels as do coal-mining machinery and transportation. Pollution is also a major problem. A single coal-fired station can produce a million tons of solid waste each year. Burning coal in homes pollutes air with acrid smog containing acid gases and particles. Large pollution & environmental problems: (Smog, greenhouse gases, and acid rain). Finally, liquid fuels from coal are very inefficient, and huge amounts of water required.
Non-Conventional Sources Such as Shale, Tar Sand, & Coalbed Methane:
These non-conventional sources currently account for 6% of US gas supply. Each of these alternatives would require a huge investment in research and infrastructure to exploit them, plus large amounts of now-expiring oil, before they could be brought online.
For example, in Canada about 200 thousand barrels a day are being produced in Alberta of non-conventional oil, but it takes about 2 barrels of oil in energy investment to produce 3 barrels of oil equivalent from those resources. Additionally, the environmental costs are horrendous and the process uses a tremendous amount of fresh water and also natural gas, both of which are in limited supply.
The major problem with non-conventional oil is that they cannot be exploited before the oil shocks cripple attempts to bring them on line, and the rate of extraction is far too slow to meet the huge global energy demand.
You're forgetting about biomass and ethanol. We can just grow our fuel:
In an article entitled The Post Petroleum Paradigm, retired Professor of Geology at the University of Oregon, Dr. Walter Youngquist addresses the severe limitations of biomass and ethanol. The following is an excerpt from that article:
Oil derived from plants is sometimes promoted as a fuel source to replace petroleum.
The facts and experience with ethanol are an example. Ethanol is a plant-derived alcohol (usually from corn) which is used today, chiefly in the form of gasohol, a mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. Because it is used to some extent,it is commonly thought that ethanol is a partially acceptable solution to the fuel problem for machines. However, ethanol is an energy negative it takes more energy to produce it than is obtained from ethanol. Ethanol production is wasteful of fossil energy resources. About 71% more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy contained in a gallon of ethanol.
Ethanol production survives by the grace of a subsidy by the U.S. government from taxpayer dollars. Continuing the production of ethanol is purely a device for buying the Midwest U.S. farm vote, and may also be related to the fact that the company which makes 60% of U.S. ethanol is also one of the largest contributors of campaign money to the Congress a distressing example of politics overriding logic.
What about that new technology that can turn anything into oil "Thermal depolymerization" which can transform many kinds of waste into oil, could help us raise our energy efficiency as we lose power due to oil depletion. While it could help us ameliorate the crash, it is not a true solution.
Like all other forms of alternative energy, we have run out of time to implement it before the crash. Currently, only one thermal depolymerization plant is operational. Thousands of such plants would need to come online before this technology would make even a small difference in our situation.
Furthermore, whatever comes out of the process must carry less useful energy than what went into the process, as required by the laws of thermodynamics. Finally, most of the waste input (such as plastics and tires) requires high grade oil to make in the first place.
The biggest problem with thermal depolymerization is that it is being advertised as a means to maintain business as usual. Such advertising promotes further consumption, provides us with a dangerously false sense of security, and encourages us to continue thinking that we don't need to make this issue a priority.
There is nothing to worry about. When the price of oil gets too high, the "invisible hand" of the market and the laws of supply and demand will force us to switch to alternative sources of energy before things get out of hand.
If the previous three questions have not made it perfectly clear that no alternative sources of energy currently exist that can replace oil and gas, then perhaps this quote from Michael Ruppert will help clarify the situation for you:
For all of the Pollyanna advocates of alternative energy who assure us that there is nothing to worry about, I suggest that they go and live in the northeast today and see how warm their windmills, solar panels, biomass and hydrogen myths keep them.
Where is the infrastructure to employ even the pitiful solutions that solar, wind and biomass might provide
Furthermore, market indicators will likely come too late for us to implement whatever alternatives we have available. Once the price of oil gets high enough that people begin to seriously consider alternatives, those alternatives will become too expensive to implement on a wide scale. Reason: Oil is required to develop, manufacture, transport and implement oil alternatives such as solar panels, biomass and windmills.
There are many examples in history where a resource shortage spurned the development of alternative resources. Oil, however, is not just any resource. In our current world, it is the precondition for all other resources, including alternative ones.
In pragmatic terms, this means that if you want your home powered by solar panels or windmills, you had better do it soon. If you don't have these alternatives in place when the lights go out, they're going to stay out.
So are these alternatives useless No, not at all. Whatever civilization emerges after the crash will likely derive a good deal of their energy from these technologies.
While traditional alternatives such as solar and wind are certainly worth investing in they are in no way the magic bullets they are so often advertised as.
The following is an excerpt from Professor Richard Heinberg's book, The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Civilizations., in which he explains why the notion that "All we have to do is switch to solar, wind., etc . . ." is delusional in its' simplicity:
Clearly, we will need to find substitutes for oil. But an analysis of the current energy alternatives is not reassuring.
The hard math of energy resource analysis yields an uncomfortable but unavoidable prospect: even if efforts are intensified now to switch to alternative energy sources, after the oil peak industrial nations will have less energy available to do useful work - including the manufacturing and transporting of goods, the growing of food, and the heating of homes.
To be sure, we should be investing in alternatives and converting our industrial infrastructure to use them. If there is any solution to industrial societies' approaching energy crises, renewables plus conservation will provide it. Yet in order to achieve a smooth transition from non-renewables to renewables, decades will be needed - and we do not have decades before the peaks in the extraction rates of oil and natural gas occur.
Moreover, even in the best case, the transition will require the massive shifting of investment from other sectors of the economy (such as the military) toward energy research and conservation. And the available alternatives will likely be unable to support the kinds of transportation, food, and dwelling infrastructure we now have; thus the transition will entail an almost complete redesign of industrial societies.
What about "new" energy. Didn't Nikola Tesla invent some machine that produced lots of energy
There are some very promising technologies currently under development, commonly referred to as "New Energy."
The potential of New Energy is enormous. The political, academic, industrial, and enviormental activist resistance to it is equally enormous.
If we as the public started demanding this technology, it could go along way in solving our problems. My optimism regarding New Energy is guarded, not because of its' scientific limitations, but becauase I wonder if we will wake up in time to demand, develop, and implement it.
Some of these technologies were pioneered by Nikola Tesla and Dr. Wilhelm Reich. Guess what happened to them Tesla died penniless. The government burned his books. Reich was sent to prison, where he died. The government burned his books burned as well. In fact, he is the only person to have his books burned by the Russian, German, and American governments.
If you would like to know more, I highly encourage you to look through Infinite Energy Magazine or read Dr. Eugene Mallove's article, Universal Appeal for Support for New Energy Science.
In case this type of thing is important to you: Dr. Mallove has Bachelor and Masters degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from MIT and a P.H.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from Harvard University.
I just read an article that states that known oil reserves keep growing.
That article is most likely citing the U.S. government agency such as the United States Geological Survey or the Energy Information Agency (EIA). While USGS and EIA reports on past production are largely reliable, their predictions for the future are largely propaganda.
They admit this themselves. For instance, after recently revising oil supply projections upward, the EIA stated:
These adjustments to the estimates are based on non- technical considerations that support domestic supply growth to the levels necessary to meet projected demand levels.
In other words, they predict how much they think we're going to use, and then tell us, "Guess what, nothing to worry about - that is how much we've got!"
What is the government doing to solve this problem
It may come as no surprise to you that our leaders are doing more to exacerbate the problem then they are to solve it. Rather then developing a reasonable plan for handling the coming Oil Crash, our leaders have decided to make a last ditch grab for what little cheap oil is available by stealing it from the nations that have it. With control over the world's dwindling supplies of cheap oil, they will have the ability to choose who lives and who dies. This includes deciding which Americans will live or die.
Some of you reading this might be saying to yourself, "Gosh, that sounds like a bunch of left-wing conspiracy b.s. I'm so tired of malcontents like this guy going on and on about how evil the U.S. government is."
If so, consider the following (less conspiratorial) outlook: the structure of the U.S. government largely mirrors the structure of a publicly traded corporation. In place of a CEO, we have the president. In place of a board of directors, we have Congress. In place of an oversight committee, we have the Supreme Court. Wealthy interests such as the defense, energy, transportation, and agriculture industries are the shareholders. Average Americans are the employees.
Like every analogy, the analogy of the government as a corporation is not a perfect one. Nonetheless, the similarities are uncanny. This should come as no surprise. As President Woodrow Wilson claimed, "The business of America is business."
In the corporate world, corporate officers are legally bound to make decisions that are in the best interests of the owners of the company: the shareholders. For instance, if a CEO deems it necessary to sacrifice half of his employees for the good of the company, he is legally obligated to do so.
In this regard, if the president deems it necessary to sacrifice large numbers of American (or foreign) lives for the good of the nation, he cannot hesitate to do so.
American veterans know this all too well. According to the Veterans Administration, 29% of our troops from the first Gulf War are now disabled with Gulf War Syndrome. That is the highest casualty rate of any war we have ever fought. Since the V.A.'s definition of "disabled" is a high one, the true percentage is more likely in the 35%-70% range.
The Reserve and National Guard troops that are now in Iraq have not been issued bullet proof vests.
If our leaders are so willing to sacrifice our troops, how willing do you think they are to sacrifice you
When our leaders decide to sacrifice your life or well being for the good of the nation, it's not that they have evil intentions per se. In their own way, they think they are doing what is best. Obviously, many of us may not agree with their reasoning.
Finally, keep in mind that these are the same people who give us a color coded chart, a roll of duct tape, and a video of a bearded, homeless guy getting a free dental exam as solutions to terrorism.
Folks, we're on our own.
Is it possible that the government is actually trying to speed up the collapse
Yes, but not necessarily for "evil" reasons.
From the government's perspective, a fast collapse may be better than a slow one. Why A slow crash may simply exacerbate the problems, because the population at the turning point of oil production will be even larger than it would be at an earlier date. The higher the population the higher the number of deaths that will result when the cheap oil runs out.
In the eyes of our government, a fast crash may be the "kinder, gentler" alternative.
This would certainly explain why the government gives tax breaks to S.U.V. owners at a time when they should be encouraging conservation.
Damn those S.U.V. drivers! This is all their fault. I'm so angry I could set fire to a Hummer dealership!
Not so fast Mr. Self Righteous. You think you're off the hook because you ride a bicycle instead of drive an S.U.V.
Guess what It took oil to manufacture and transport that bicycle. The plastic that your veggie sandwich is wrapped in also came from oil. You're simply (considerably) less guilty than the S.U.V. driver.
As far as setting fire to a Hummer dealership, that's going to require oil (gasoline) to start the fire. The firefighters who come to put it out will get there in a truck powered by oil. You will end up in a prison that was built by machines that were powered by using oil. You will be taken there in a bus powered by oil.
We've all contributed to the problem. At this point, finger pointing will do us about as much good as a circular firing squad.
Well if I can't blame the S.U.V. drivers, who should I blame Arab terrorists Jewish bankers Fascist corporate warmongers Leftist environmental wackos Bush Clinton Come on, I need a scapegoat!
If you're looking for a scapegoat, I don't think you will find it by looking to the usual suspects.
If you think the political left is at fault, and favor a more conservative solution, the result will be an exacerbation of what we've seen the past few years: more war, and less rights.
If you think the political right is at fault, and favor a more "leftist" solution, the result will likely be the similar to that seen during the Russian and Cuban revolutions: more war, and less rights.
Many of George W. Bush's energy policies are likely making the situation worse. At the same time, his administration has invested far more money into the development of renewable energy than Clinton ever did.
Given the circumstances, do you think Bush could be convinced to support energy conservation measures
In 2001, President Bush stated, "We can't conserve our way to energy independence, nor can we can conserve our way to having enough energy available. So we've got to do both"
The oil companies are so greedy that they will come up with an alternative to keep making money, right
Expecting the oil companies to save you from the oil crash is about as wise as expecting the tobacco companies to save you from lung cancer.
As explained above, corporate officers are bound by law to do what is in the best interests of the corporation, so long as their actions are legal. Their legal obligation is to make money for the company, not to save the world.
None of the currently available alternatives have anywhere near the profit margin that oil does. Even if an oil executive wanted to "do the right thing" and pursue oil alternatives, it is illegal for her to do so if it is not in the best interests of the company.
At the Paris Peak Oil Conference, Dutch economist Maarten Van Mourik of the Netherlands Economic Institute explained that because of the financial shortcomings of all currently available forms of alternative energy, a sudden crash is the profitable solution for the oil companies.
Furthermore, according to Dr. Colin Campbell: "The major oil companies are merging and downsizing and outsourcing and not investing in new refineries because they know full well that production is set to decline and that the exploration opportunities are getting less and less.
The companies have to sing to the stock market, and merger hides the collapse of the weaker brethren. The staff is purged on merger and the combined budget ends up much less than the sum of the previous components. Besides, a lot of the executives and bankers make a lot of money from the merger."
Expecting the oil companies, the government, or anybody else to solve this problem for us is simply suicidal. You, me, and every other "regular person" needs to be actively engaged in addressing this issue if there is to be any hope for humanity.
I think you are underestimating the human spirit. Humanity always adapts to challenges. We will just adapt to this too.
Absolutely, we will adapt. Part of that adaptation process will include most of us dying if we don't take massive action right now.
The human spirit is capable of some miraculous things. We need a miracle right now, so the human spirit had better get its' ass in gear, pronto.
Unfortunately, there is no law that says when humanity adapts to a resource shortage, everybody gets to survive. Think of any mass tragedy connected to resources such as oil, land, food, labor (slaves) buffalo, etc. . The societies affected usually survive, but in a drastically different and often unrecognizable form.
The "end of the world" is here, once again. So what's new Y2K was supposed to be the end of the world, and it turned out to be much ado about nothing.
What's new is that this is the real thing. It isn't a fire drill. It isn't paranoid hysteria. It is the real deal.
George W. Bush's Energy Advisor, Matthew Simmons, addressed this issue at the Paris Peak Oil Conference, stating:
"I think it is human nature, basically, to say that we really like to have pleasant thoughts. The one crying wolf is abandoned unless the wolf turns out to be already at the front door, and by then, the cry is generally too late. And crises are basically problems, by definition, that have gone ignored. And all great crises were ignored until it became too late to do anything about it..."
Peak Oil isn't "Y2K Reloaded." In contrast to Peak Oil, Y2K was an "if", not a "when". We know that Peak Oil is going to happen. The only question is at what point between 2004- 2010 it will occur, if it hasn't occurred already.
Y2K was "announced" in the early to mid 1990's, a full 5 - 10 years before the problem was to occur. Peak Oil will occur within 1 - 5 years, and we have made no preparations to deal with it. The preparations necessary to deal with the Oil Crash will require a complete overhaul of every aspect of our civilization. This is much more complex than fixing a computer bug.
Furthermore, oil is more fundamental to our existence than anything else, even computers. Had the Y2K predictions come true, our civilization would have been knocked back to 1965. With time, we would have recovered.
When the Oil Crash comes, our civilization is going to get knocked back to 1765. We will not recover, as there is no economically available oil left to discover that would help us recover.
We had oil problems back in the 1970's. We got through those just fine. How is this any different
In 1973, OPEC stopped selling oil to the United States in protest of American support of Israel in the Yom Kippur or Ramadan War. This coincided with the peaking of U.S. domestic oil production. Without a supply of cheap energy, the US economy went into deep recession.
In the 70's there were other 'swing' oil producers like Venezuela who could step in to fill the supply gap. Once worldwide oil production peaks (if it hasn't already), there won't be any swing producers to fill in the gap.
In the future, comparing the oil shortages of the 1970's to the Oil Crash of 2005-2050 will be akin to comparing a fender bender to a head-on collision.
People have been predicting that we'll run out of oil since like 1920 or something. Same old, same old. . .
Allow me to reiterate: it's not that we are going to run out of oil per se, but rather, we are going to run out of cheap oil.
The fact that similar predictions have been made in the past does not mean that current predictions are without merit.
Why haven't I heard about this on the nightly news
Peak Oil has been reported in the alternative media. If you pay close attention, Peak Oil has also been reported in the mainstream media. However, it is usually confined to the back page of a newspaper or an obscure part of a news agency's website. For instance, cnn.com recently ran an article on Peak Oil confirming that worldwide oil reserves are 80% less than previously thought, that worldwide oil production will peak within the next 5 years, and that once production peaks, gas prices will reach "disastrous levels."
There are a couple of reasons why you haven't heard more:
1. 75% of the media (all newspapers, television and radio stations) are owned by 5 companies. Each of these companies is heavily invested in the energy industry. If they were to publicly announce the truth about Peak Oil, investment in the stock market would dry up, the economy would plunge, chaos would ensue, and the whole deck of cards would come crashing down before our leaders and corporate elite have a chance to secure their own well-being.
2. The ramifications of Peak Oil are so serious that it is hard for anybody, including journalists and politicians, to accept it. Nobody wants to be called a "doomsayer." As Jimmy Carter found out in 1980, making the end of age of oil an issue is political suicide.
3. The average American may not be emotionally prepared to deal with Peak Oil. Peak Oil is a literal death sentence to much of our population as well as a figurative death sentence to the energy intensive American way of life. When faced with such news, most people choose to "kill the messenger."
Do you think people will wake up in time for us to avert, or at least soften the crash I hope so, but I'm not betting on it.
According to author George Monbiot, "The only rational response to both the impending end of the oil age and the menace of global warming is to redesign our cities, our farming and our lives. But this cannot happen without massive political pressure, and our problem is that no one ever rioted for austerity."
Does This Have Anything To Do With the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and Donald Rumsfeld are all former executives for large oil companies. They have known about Peak Oil for decades.
In the context of Peak Oil, the wars in the Middle East are not wars of greed. Rather, they are wars of survival.
You can expect the U.S. to invade Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia within the next 2-5 years. As you watch the news, you can already notice the hints are being dropped. "Iran has WMD" or "Syria isn't cooperating in the war on terror" or "Saudi Arabia is funding terrorism". "The war on terror will last for decades." The stage is being set so that the American public will accept these future invasions.
What's going to happen when recently industrialized China decides it needs what little cheap oil is left as bad as the United States does
World War III: What about other "Westernized" countries Don't they need oil also No country is safe. For instance, several high level officials in the Bush Administration are pushing for a plan to force nations to "choose between Paris and Washington." Similarly, Canada is required by NAFTA to sell 60% of its natural gas to the U.S. When Canada begins to experience the energy shortage, they may seek to change the terms of that law. The U.S. is unlikely to allow them to do so.
Well at least we don't have to worry about Russia, right In October, President Putin called the US a "Rogue state" and reserved the right for a unilateral, first nuclear strike against the US. Reason: The US is not only monopolizing Russia's oil suppliers, they are also buying Russian oil companies.
You forget about North Korea Oh yeah, them too.
War with Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, China, France Russia and Korea Won't that require a reinstitution of the draft
George Bush recently approved a massive increase for the Selective Service's 2005 budget. The Selective Service is currently undergoing a massive overhaul and has been told it needs to be ready to report to the president in June, 2005. This means you can expect a reinstitution of the military draft some time thereafter.
A process the military calls "Stop Loss", a.k.a. "Draft Creep", has been underway for some time now.
Essentially, every young man has been earmarked as a solider for future oil wars. I have a son. How do I keep him from being drafted Check objector.org
Thank God I'm a woman. At least I don't have to worry about being drafted.
Not so fast. If you are a female and work in the medical field, you may be subject to the Health Care Personnel Delivery System, better known as the medical draft.
According to Lewis Brodsky, the acting director of the Selective Service System, "We're going to elevate that kind of draft to be a priority."
What type of weapons are being developed for these oil wars
In "Rebuilding America's Defenses", Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz explains that the U.S. will develop "advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes." In other words, weapons that target certain ethnic groups.
Don't feel left out if you happen to be white, North Korea is developing an "ethnic bomb" that targets whites only. China is developing truly horrific post-nuclear weapons employing "molecular nano-technology."
Guess what It gets worse. When you have some extra time and really want to be put in a good mood, read what the U.S. Army War College wrote in 1997 regarding the military's role in the 21st century.
Does Peak Oil have anything to do with legislation such as Patriot Act I, and Patriot Act II
When the cost of food soars, the only way to control the population will be through the institution of a fascist style police state. The Patriot Acts and related legislation are the foundation of that state.
In light of the energy situation we are facing, why is the Bush administration spending money and cutting services like there's no tomorrow From their perspective, there is no tomorrow.
Does Peak Oil have anything to do with Bush's plan to go to the Moon and then onto Mars
We're going back to the Moon and onto Mars for four reasons:
1. To Develop Advanced Oil Drilling Techniques:
According to Haliburton scientist Steve Streich: Drilling technology for Mars research will be useful for the oil and gas industries. The oil industry is in need of a revolutionary drilling technique that allows quicker and more economical access to oil reserves. A Mars mission presents an unprecedented opportunity to develop that drilling technique and improve our abilities to support oil and gas demands on Earth.
2. To Develop and Deploy Space Based Weapons: According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the first prototype space based weapon is scheduled to be in orbit by 2007 or 2008 - before the end of a second Bush term.
3. To Mine "Helium-3" In Hopes That It Can Be Used As Fuel: Helium 3 is an element barely found on Earth, but found in abundance on the moon. Researchers see it as the perfect fuel source: extremely potent, nonpolluting, with virtually no radioactive by-product.
Helium 3 sounds great, until you find out that a nuclear fusion reactor is needed for it to be of any use. Even after 40 years of research and billions of dollars spent, nobody has been able to build such a reactor.
Additionally, the economics of extracting and transporting Helium 3 from the moon are particularly problematic. Even if scientists solved the physics of Helium 3 fusion, "it would be economically unfeasible . . you'd have to strip-mine large surfaces of the moon" according to Jim Benson, chairman of SpaceDev in Poway, California.
Furthermore, implementation of use of Helium 3 on Earth would require many technologies yet to be created. Foremost among them are super conducting magnets, plasma control and diagnostics, robotically controlled mining equipment, life support facilities, rocket launch vehicle, telecommunications, power electronics etc.
The fact that the Bush Administration is pursuing such an unviable source of fuel underscores how desperate the situation is getting.
4. To send more U.S. jobs offshore.
The worst case scenario is extinction, as the wars that will accompany the worldwide oil shortage will likely be the most horrific and widespread that humanity has ever experienced.
If we get Bush out of office, will that solve the problem Peak Oil is happening with or without Bush. In fact, you may have the Bush administration to thank for the couple extra years of cheap oil he is robbing from the Middle East. This gives us in the U.S. some extra time to prepare for the post-peak Oil Crash. (Note - I in no way feel this justifies the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan)
The President, his administration, and most of our legislators have been reduced to ceremonial figureheads for the energy and defense industries. These industries control both parties.
The last president to mention Peak Oil was Jimmy Carter, who in 1980 explained that we had a choice: voluntarily change our oil based way of life, or have the change forced upon us via chaos and societal disintegration. Voters preferred Ronald Reagan's assertion that "it was morning time in America."
If you think Bush is at fault for the situation, you are missing the point. It's our fault for not holding all of our leaders, regardless of party affiliation, accountable for their actions. None of the current presidential candidates except Dennis Kucinich have publicly mentioned Peak Oil even once. The current Democratic frontrunner, John Kerry, supports the development of oil alternatives, but has never come close to mentioning the true scope of the crisis. In other words, regardless of who gets elected, we're on our own.
I heard there is a "water crisis" on the way and it's tied into the oil crisis. Is there any truth to this According to Matthew Simmons, "without energy, we have no sustainable water, no sustainable food, and no sustainable healthcare"
I've got credit card or student loan debt. How will my debts be affected by Peak Oil When things go south, and as nations scramble for dwindling resources, debts will get called in to provide the one financial ingredient that can mitigate a serious crisis: liquidity.
How will my 401K be affected by the energy crisis Whatever is left of the stock market in 2015 will evaporate as the "baby-boomers" attempt to pull their money out for retirement.
You're not even trained in science. What makes you think you know what you are talking about I am simply taking what the true experts are saying and condensing it into a bite size format. Alot of the Peak Oil websites are not what I would call "newbie friendly." Also, many fail to connect the dots between Peak Oil and recent world events. So I created this one.
I bet you're some kind of raving, monomaniacal, left wing freak. Why should I think you're any more credible than every other crazy person with a website If you think I'm writing this as a result of a mental disturbance or political agenda, then ignore everything on this page and look it up for yourself on Google.
What about some counterarguments What do the people who disagree with you have to say Well first of all, we need to get something straight. These conclusions are not mine. They are the conclusions of people who have a much better understanding of petroleum science and geology than either you or me. All that I have done is take their conclusions and condense them into layman's terms.
I suggest you ask the following questions when reading an article that claims there is nothing to worry about:
1. Is the author a politician or an economist Politicians know that mentioning the end of the oil age insures they will not be reelected. Economists tend to assume the market will force people to adapt before things fall apart. As explained previously, the oil shortage may be one of the few instances in which the market will be of little help to us.
2. Is the author touting traditional alternatives such as solar, wind and biomass As explained previously, these will only help us manage the crash. And only if we begin implementing them on a massive scale before oil prices get out of hand.
3. Is the author from a government agency such as the United States Geological Service Of course, this doesn't automatically mean their opinion is biased. However, I suggest you read their conclusions with the same skeptical eye you would use to read an article from the I.R.S. that tells you the tax system works just fine.
1. Was Winston Churchill being a "pessimist" in 1940 when he told Britain, "I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears, and sweat"
2. Was Albert Einstein being a "pessimist" in 1939 when he told FDR that Nazi Germany was in the process of developing an atomic bomb
There is a difference between an "optimist" and a fool. An optimist is somebody who looks at bleak facts and decides to make the best of the situation that they can. A fool is somebody who looks at bleak facts and decides to ignore them because they are too upsetting.
This is not a case of "looking at the glass half empty." We are looking at barrel of oil, and it while it is half full, it is far too expensive for us to purchase.
I'm having trouble believing that a country as powerful as the United States is on the verge of collapse. Let's look at what has happened to the U.S. in just the last four years: World Trade Center destroyed, budget surplus vanished, dysfunctional health care, honest elections gone, 2.5 million jobs lost, 433 publicly traded companies gone bankrupt, social security close to gone, government oversight of big business gone, weakened infrastructure, shrinking middle class, undermined civil liberties, tainted food supply.
We won't be the first superpower to collapse. This is what happens when any civilization overshoots its resource base. It isn't a new thing. Over the course of history, the collapse of civilizations has been as inevitable as death and taxes. Any good book on the fall of the Roman Empire will gave you case of deja vu next time you watch the evening news.
I showed this site to a friend and she said, "That's ridiculous, there is tons of oil left! We won't run out for at least 50 years." Your friend is correct. The immediate crisis we face is not a lack of oil, but a lack of affordable oil.
Once oil production peaks, it will begin to steadily and permanently decline. This will force a prolonged, secular contraction in GDP if adequate substitutes for oil cannot be provided. As explained above, no true substitutes for oil currently exist that can be brought online in sufficient capacity to avert a worldwide crisis.
How can we best deal with Peak Oil as a society Peak Oil is going to happen. People are going to die. We cannot stop it. But we may be able to minimize the amount of suffering while maximizing the chances of building a successful post-oil civilization if we immediately come together as a species and do the following:
1. Stop all wars and other nonessential economic activity. Dedicate all of our time and resources to developing alternatives to fossil fuels.
2. Drastically cut our energy consumption. We could do this in a number of ways:
A. No more kids: We cannot feed our current population. When the Oil Crash comes, the situation will go from bad to worse to nightmarish. More children means an increased demand for food that we cannot produce.
B. No more pets: They require food that needs to be used to feed people.
C. No more beef eating: Cattle raising is extremely energy intensive.
D. No more unnecessary travel: This means eating produce that is grown locally, substituting bicycles for cars, limiting our purchase of consumer goods to those that are absolutely necessary, and no air travel unless absolutely necessary.
I'm the first to admit that these solutions seem implausible. Hence, my usually unbridled optimism is saddled with a good dose of caution.
What should I do to prepare as an individual Well first of all, it is absolutely imperative that you do not allow yourself to succumb to a fear based consciousness. This may be difficult as Peak Oil is going to necessitate absolutely massive changes in our way of life. However, if we allow ourselves to be overtaken by fear, we will only exacerbate the problem and duplicate the system that has brought us into this situation.
Personally, I recommend the first step to be educating yourself about Peak Oil and its ramifications. Then notify as many of your friends and family as possible. Seek out like minded people and come up with some type of a plan.
Unfortunately, I know very little at this point regarding how to survive without the amenities of modern civilization. As I learn more, I will post what I learn on this website under Prepare.
Should I be getting a gun and hiding in the woods. If a "hole- up-in-the-woods-with-guns" model of preparation appeals to you, I encourage you read as much as possible about other civilizations that have crashed and burned. While the survivalist model works in Hollywood, it often fails in reality. When our society collapses, the rural areas may well go first. In that case, little enclaves of survivalists sitting on stockpiles of food, weapons, and gold will be too tempting a target for the bandit cultures that evolve in post collapse rural areas.
Speaking of bandit cultures, you can be assured that your in- laws will come looking for food and supplies if you have them stockpiled.
As stated previously, the end of the oil age is a life and death game. I think it unwise to base your life plan on a macho Hollywood fantasy.
On a personal note, I won't be getting a gun. My philosophy is why bother extending my stay in hotel earth for a bit longer if I have to contribute more violence to an already violent place
History, not Hollywood, is likely the best guide for what we should expect. Again, any good book on the fall of the Roman Empire should provide you with a reasonable approximation of what the next 5-50 years will be like. Factor in modern day weaponry, and you can see that we have a real mess on our hands.
Is there anything positive about Peak Oil Most of us in consumer based countries like the U.S. are actually very nice people. In our hearts, we really do believe in ideals such as equality, brotherhood, and justice. We would never abuse, mistreat, or kill somebody just to get something of theirs. However, to support our oil based lifestyle, our government goes out and does these things for us.
If the average American knew the amount of suffering that went into producing every piece of plastic in their home, every gallon of oil in their gas tank, and every piece of food on their dinner table, they would likely be sick to their stomach and would be willing to do whatever it takes to change things.
Peak Oil will force us to change things. Peak Oil does mean that the end of the world as we know it is at our doorstep. It also means that we have a chance to create a new world in which humanity lives in harmony with itself and the earth. Such a lifestyle is no longer simply "the right thing to do." It is now a necessity if we wish to survive as a species.
In this regard, a 1968 quote from Robert Kennedy is instructive. Do you think this might be God or nature's way of punishing us for having screwed things up so bad
You could make that argument if (a) you believe in a vengeful or retributive God or (b) you believe nature is a deity. Personally, I am not comfortable with either of those ideas.
However, I do think Peak Oil will turn the "survival of the fittest" theory on its head. Traditionally, we have defined evolutionary-social fitness by looking at things like cunning, military strength, ability to dominate etc. . In this regard, many of us have come to regard the U.S. as the "fittest" nation because we have the biggest economy and most lethal military.
Our economic and military strength, however, has one major Achilles heal: it is entirely dependant on an abundance of cheap oil. When that runs out, it's over for us. While we crash and burn, small, low tech, agrarian societies such as the Hmong in the mountains of Laos will continue on without so much as blinking an eye.
Shortly after WW II, George F. Kennan, the American Ambassador to Moscow stated: We have 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which permit us to maintain the position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality . . . we should cease thinking about human rights, raising of living standards and democratization.
See: George Kennan, US State Department Policy Planning Study #23 (1948), quoted in John Pilger, Hidden Agendas (The New Press, 1998), p 59 and in Richard Heinberg The Party's Over (New Society Publishers, 2003) p. 229
We've been following Mr. Kennan's advice quite well in the recent years. For instance, the U.S. dropped so much Depleted Uranium on Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War that birth defects in Iraqi babies increased by 500 percent in the next 12 years. In some cases, the radiation was so bad that 67% of American Gulf War veterans ended up having babies with serious birth defects. In 2003, we dropped so much Depleted Uranium on Baghdad that radiation levels rose to 2,000 times normal. Depleted Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years. Essentially, we have eliminated the Iraqi population (and many of our own troops) from the healthy human gene pool. If you're not familiar with the effects of D.U., watch this.
While most of us have had nothing directly to do with such horrors, we are ultimately responsible for holding our leaders in check. Don't hold them in check and this is what you get.
To access Matt Savinars website, click here.
NOTE: This Insight, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.