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Artemise
Peak Oil is a phrase that has been around awhile but is now creeping onto the back pages of your newspapers and in science magazines. People are talking about it, and even preparing for 'worst case scenario' of societal breakdown within two decades. Seems kinds kooky? Read on.

" 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 down slope when extra effort (expense) is required to extract oil from reservoirs that are emptying out. Put simply: oil is plentiful and cheap on the upslope, scarce and expensive on the down slope. The peak of the curve coincides with the point at which the world's endowment of oil has been 50% depleted. “Peak Oil” is the industry term for the top of the curve. Once the peak is passed, oil production begins to go down while cost begins to go up.

In practical and considerably oversimplified 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 (approximately twice) and much more industrialized than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace 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?”

A. Oil and Food Production

In the US, approximately 10 calories of fossil fuels are required to produce 1 calorie of food. If packaging and shipping are factored into the equation, that ratio is raised considerably. This disparity is made possible by an abundance of cheap oil. Most pesticides are petroleum (oil) based, and all commercial fertilizers are ammonia based. Ammonia is produced from natural gas, a fossil fuel subject to a depletion profile similar to that of oil. Oil has allowed for farming implements such as tractors, food storage systems such as refrigerators, and food transport systems such as trucks. 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. 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.

Within a few years of Peak Oil occurring, the price of food will skyrocket as the cost of producing, storing, transporting, and packaging it will soar.

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/PageOne.html

The reality of Peak Oil is going to change our lives dramatically. Estimates about our reaching Peak Oil range from 2004-2008, or in a more optimistic viewpoint from 2015 -2030. So its not an 'if' but 'when'.

It is widely speculated that the Saudi fields are in poor health, from increased use of water injection to keep up pressure. Prudoe Bay , the largest US oil reserve is in decline. There is a slew of information out there which I cannot write here but will provide links. Some experts think that we have already reached Peak oil, but it cannot be told until some years after the fact.

Almost everything depends on oil today, but the larger problem points are food and water production. Oil is directly related to our food and water supply as it exists currently. Going down the backside of the slope, ie: having used half of our known oil supply with no more available oil reserves to be found, increased usage from population growth, higher expenses across the board, lack of economic growth, hence decreased employment all spell a major change of life for all of us. There is no squeezing out of this situation. Our lives are going to change, and will very likely be a crisis situation, most of all for the more highly industrialized countries, who are dependant on outside food sources and habitually highly consumptive. Like hitting a brick wall going 120mph.

This is not just about energy efficient cars, but a major change in every aspect of our lives. The farther you are from food production sources, work place, the higher your debt, the worse off. The less cooperative your community is, same. It shall no longer be that you can use all the energy you can afford. The energy will simply not be available.

Alternative energy sources and vast policy concerning them have not been explored or implimented quickly enough to ward off this impending crisis.
"When the amount of net energy available in society begins to shrink it is harder to harness the resources necessary to manufacture the solar panels, the wind mills, and the other equipment needed when we begin the inevitable task of creating a large scale alternative infrastructure."

These are not things anyone likes to hear, but are being talked about in world conferences, in backrooms, in the Whitehouse and published by the oil companies themselves.

Some are speculating that the trends we are currently seeing are warning signs of Peak Oil, such as the Iraq war, escalating gas prices, rolling black-outs, slow economic growth and job creation; even to go as far as The Patriot Acts, because a nation is crisis is one that must be controlled as a police state. Our leaders today are all oil people, and this is not a conspiracy theory about Peak Oil, its a reality.

We are absolutely going to have to decrease our dependancy on oil, both individually and industrially, as a nation and a world. This can come by force or choice, but really it has to start now to avoid wars, famine, economic depression and assure our survival. Either way, life as we once knew it is going to change, sooner rathwer than later. Sounds a bit gloomy?
Noone has said this is not going to happen, the only discrepancy is when, and those predictions only decades apart.

"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." In an August 2003 interview, Mr. Simmons was asked if it was time for Peak Oil to become part of the public policy debate. He responded:

It is past time. As I have said, the experts and politicians have no Plan B to fall back on. If energy peaks, particularly while 5 of the world’s 6.5 billion people have little or no use of modern energy, it will be a tremendous jolt to our economic well-being and to our health - greater than anyone could ever imagine.

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Index.html
A good starter page.

http://www.oilempire.us/peakoil.html
Forget the title, this page is very comprehensive with articles and viewpoints from everyone in the field.

[B]Questions for Debate:

What do you think about the Peak Oil scenario?

Would you begin to change aspects of your lifestyle NOW to prepare for this inevitability?

Should we demand that our government adress this publicly at this time, or keep the public in the dark and 'wait and see what happens? ( Avoid panic)

What are your predictions of what will happen after we reach and go beyond Peak Oil? Do you think the government will 'figure something out', or are we on our own?
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Mrs. Pigpen
What do you think about the Peak Oil scenario?
A bit of perspective here. In 1970, the projections were that we would be out of oil by the year 2000. They thought we’d already reached peak oil. As expensive as oil is today, the equivalent cost (in today’s dollars) to the mid 1970s would be around 70 dollars a barrel. It is in the low 30s today. Obviously, oil is a non-renewable resource…But technological advances have enabled us to find more oil, and mine it more efficiently, than ever. I have no doubt that human ingenuity will permit us to find alternatives when we need them.

Oil, computers, and the new-old economy
QUOTE
For example, the world has burned about 820 billion barrels of oil since the first strike at Oil Creek, Pennsylvania, in 1859, and 600 billion of those barrels -- almost three fourths of the total -- have been burned since 1973. Yet the world's proven oil reserves are about half again as large today as they were in the 1970s, and more than ten times as large as in 1950. It is as if using up oil has somehow created more, although obviously that cannot be true.


Would you begin to change aspects of your lifestyle NOW to prepare for this inevitability? I recommend everyone go on a vegetarian diet.
* Length of time world's petroleum reserves would last (with current technologies) if all human beings ate meat-centered diet: 13 years
* Length of time world's petroleum reserves would last (with current technologies) if all human beings ate vegetarian diet: 260 years
* Principal reason for U.S. intervention in Persian Gulf: Dependence on foreign oil
* Barrels of oil imported daily by U.S.: 6.8 million
* Percentage of energy return (as food energy per fossil energy expended) of most energy efficient farming of meat: 34.5%
* Percentage of energy return (as food energy per fossil energy expended) of least energy efficient plant food: 328%
* Amount of soy beans produced by the amount of fossil fuel needed to produce 1 pound (.45 kg) of feedlot beef: 40 lbs. (18.1 kg)
Artemise
QUOTE
But technological advances have enabled us to find more oil, and mine it more efficiently, than ever. I have no doubt that human ingenuity will permit us to find alternatives when we need them.


Almost all the available oil on the planet has been found.
When we need alternative energy is now. Human ingenuity is late.

This is not the 1970's energy crisis which was caused by politics. The shortage scare was all based on a book called The Limits to Growth. However, nowhere in the book was there any mention about running out of anything by 2000. Instead, the book's concern was entirely focused on what the world might look like 100 years later. There was not one sentence or even a single word written about an oil shortage, or limit to any specific resource, by the year 2000.
Matt Simmons says the 'actual' predictions of the book are right on track. Supply side decline is even more greatly challenged by poorer nations becoming more industrialized and increasing their energy needs exponentially.
http://www.greatchange.org/othervoices.html

'Almost all current production comes from six old oil fields. Most have maintained reservoir pressure through water drive injection. When this program ends all fields face risk of steep decline. Few other fields have certain promise."
Matt Simmons. http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/files/Marine...y%20Society.pdf

"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."
Professor Richard Heinberg, The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Civilizations.

"Oil is required to develop, manufacture, transport and implement oil alternatives such as solar panels, biomass, windmills, and particularly nuclear power plants, which require massive amounts of oil to construct and maintain.

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."

"I think you are underestimating the human spirit. Humanity always adapts to challenges. We will just adapt to this too
The human spirit is capable of some miraculous things.
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." (Easter Island... my edit)

"We'll think of something. We always do. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Yes, and lots of cheap oil has been the father of invention for the past 150 years. No other invention has been mass produced without it."
http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/PageThree.html

I agree with you on vegitarianism Mrs P. As well as eliminating use of fast food chains which are energy gluttons. Buy food locally and in season.
Every one of us can start looking at our personal consumption, and begin to live more simply. People who own their own homes should be thinking about self sufficiency, installing alternative sources of power where ever possible. Water, is a huge concern for those in big cities. In case of severe economic decline Id reduce overall debt as much as possible in the next 10 years.

I think we need to bring our energy situation to the forefront, open for public debate and start teaching people to be more conservation minded, but I wonder how we are going to handle industrial conversion.

Im not of the wait and see mindset. Id like to see this adressed now.

I can foresee a great number of hungry people, and hungry people are angry people. Health care will further decline and many people will die. If there is an oil crash, we could see another Great Depression and subsequently, we shall live the equivalent of a 21 century life with the pace of the 1930's. Yes, we will have more technology, but we wont have use of cars, planes and things which weve become accustomed. There is a saying in Saudi Arabia, ' My father drove a camel, I drive a car, my son a jet plane, his son will drive a camel'.
AuthorMusician
What if fusion becomes a reality?

In this week's Business Week, there's an article on a possible process for fusion. It involves making bubbles in acetone, these bubbles collapsing, and the possibility of the resulting energy release to trigger fusion.

The BW article is easy to understand and has graphics. Unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to read the article online. Here's a free source:

Bubble Fusion

If we can figure out how to use fusion to make our electricity, that should herald in an era of clean/safe/sustainable energy on this planet.

So to answer questions in this debate:

I agree with the oil peak idea, both in the US and worldwide. The US has already peaked, thus our dependence on oil imports.

I am already very energy conscious, but not vegetarian. I try to minimize our use of energy for economic reasons, and I think that will be the driving force for most individuals. The more expensive the energy, the more conservation that will go on.

Yep, let's demand our government focus on energy as a primary concern on all levels. It is now, but the direction is wrong from my point of view--not enough creative thinking on the possibilities.

For the future, that depends on how well fusion works. Otherwise, we only have two primary sources of energy: sunlight and geothermal. We will likely figure out how to harvest enough energy to continue civilization (I hope). Economics might push expectation down though.

Lots of big minds are on the problem. Let's encourage them more than we are doing.
Artemise
Right now there are no viable energy alternatives to oil. Nuclear energy, the only 'new' energy alternative in the 20th century died in 20 years.
Every policy the US is enacting is a response to a peak oil situation, from Afghanistan to Iraq. The US was heavily pressuring Afghanistan to get itself under some sort of security control, give up Osama, and bow to US pressure to build pipelines in Afghanistan, in the spring of 2001 or face invasion by the fall of same year. Consequently, we were attacked, and attacked afghanistan in the same timeframe initially indicated.

Terrorism is a response to the growing gap between the haves and have nots worldwide, its not religious. The increasing gap is caused by oil hungry nations, such as the US, who need control over those resources and further increase our military involvement and pressure to conform to our demands on oil producing nations. Producers, such as the Saudi Arabian royalty have built an economy and welfare state based on a non renewable resource, pacifying the public, as the US strong -arms those nations into providing cheap oil, while those societies and economies do not develop under totalitarian rule, however those days are running out. Saudi salaries have been frozen for more than a decade and the people are seeing an increase in cost of living, while a huge population increase has reduced the average per capita from 12,000 per year to 7,000 per year. There is mass discourd, and view that the public is being taken advantage of by the pro-US House of Saud. Saudi Arabia is right now a time bomb just waiting to happen.

Iraq can only provide some relief, the first of our oil wars, and anyone who thinks it was about freedom and democracy is of the most naive, we are simply not that generous.
How much fossil fuels we will diminish in oil wars without looking for viable solutions remains to be seen. Right now, we are only considering how much we can take ahold of while we can, and before crises.

If China at anytime becomes progressive enough to convert even half its infrastructure to oil and gas,( they are now a coal burning nation but gaining) we shall face an energy crisis of mass proportions, enough so that we may not be able to meet demmand, and see our oil reserves run on a severe downslope.

We can only imagine what this means for the population of the planet as oil prices increase exponentially, thus food become scarce and expensive. While it may be the earth shaking off what has become a parasite too difficult to sustain, a natural effect, it will be a tragedy for humans in great porportions. This can easily happen within many of our lifetimes, especially the younger of us. Doomsday as it sounds, it is inevitable unless we draft renewable energy policies, very soon.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Artemise @ Mar 31 2004, 06:40 AM)
Right now there are no viable energy alternatives to oil. Nuclear energy, the only 'new' energy alternative in the 20th century died in 20 years.
Every policy the US is enacting is a response to a peak oil situation, from Afghanistan to Iraq. The US was heavily pressuring Afghanistan to get itself under some sort of security control, give up Osama, and bow to US pressure to build pipelines in Afghanistan, in the spring of 2001 or face invasion by the fall of same year. Consequently, we were attacked, and attacked afghanistan in the same timeframe initially indicated.

Terrorism is a response to the growing gap between the haves and have nots worldwide, its not religious. The increasing gap is caused by oil hungry nations, such as the US, who need control over those resources and further increase our military involvement and pressure to conform to our demands on oil producing nations. Producers, such as the Saudi Arabian royalty have built an economy and welfare state based on a non renewable resource, pacifying the public, as the US strong -arms those nations into providing cheap oil, while those societies and economies do not develop under totalitarian rule, however those days are running out. Saudi salaries have been frozen for more than a decade and the people are seeing an increase in cost of living, while a huge population increase has reduced the average per capita from 12,000 per year to 7,000 per year. There is mass discourd, and view that the public is being taken advantage of by the pro-US House of Saud. Saudi Arabia is right now a time bomb just waiting to happen.

Iraq can only provide some relief, the first of our oil wars, and anyone who thinks it was about freedom and democracy is of the most naive, we are simply not that generous.
How much fossil fuels we will diminish in oil wars without looking for viable solutions remains to be seen. Right now, we are only considering how much we can take ahold of while we can, and before crises.

If China at anytime becomes progressive enough to convert even half its infrastructure to oil and gas,( they are now a coal burning nation but gaining) we shall face an energy crisis of mass proportions, enough so that we may not be able to meet demmand, and see our oil reserves run on a severe downslope.

We can only imagine what this means for the population of the planet as oil prices increase exponentially, thus food become scarce and expensive. While it may be the earth shaking off what has become a parasite too difficult to sustain,  a natural effect, it will be a tragedy for humans in great porportions. This can easily happen within many of our lifetimes, especially the younger of us. Doomsday as it sounds, it is inevitable unless we draft  renewable energy policies, very soon.

Artemise, I would agree with such cataclysmic expectations if oil was removed immediately, and all of once. That isn't the case. As prices increase, we will have to make certain adjustments. Remember all of those solar panels on the roofs of houses (to heat water) a couple of decades ago? They're gone because fuel is so cheap. Nuclear power isn't dead, but it isn't popular for the same reason. We have giant SUVs with bad fuel economy, just as we had more Cadillacs long ago.

People will begin to depend on other sources of energy, and economize, when oil becomes expensive enough to do so. It is happening (slowly) now, with the hybrid engines. Yes, I think we should all economize and make lifestyle adjustments, but everyone will when they must... and that will come well before people are starving in the streets.
Vermillion
A few things:

While not disagreeing with the eventual threat of an oil shortage, we are still a long way from that.

Someone above stated that we have discovered almost all the oil there is to discover. Any Geologist will tell you that is farsical. Oil, due to the nature of its creation, is actually a fairly plentiful substance. Doomsayers have predicted the end of oil as early as 1990, and yet it does not seem to have happened. There are tremendous oil deposits that we know of that have not yet been tapped, most of those in Eastern Russia. They have not been explored because of the awful conditions surrounding them (mountains, cold, ect) but at the price of oil rises eventually they will be. Russia is on track to become the New Saudi Arabia.

The world currently a proven unpumped reserve of about 1 trillion barrels of crude oil. Those reserves are enough to fuel the world (assuming a moderate level of growth of consumption) for about 80 years, according to OPEC. Undiscovered oil is of course hard to estimate, but geologists estimate hundreds of trillions of barrels of oil undiscovered, though much of that may be too deep or submerged to be extractable. Certainly accessable undiscovered reserves are a significant multiple of current discovered reserves. Lets be conservative, and say 3x as much.

So, we stand to run out of oil in about 250-300 years, assuming no sudden spikes in consumption. But this new oil will be more expensive and more difficult to extracy, and the price will go up and up.

New oil deposits, massive ones, are still being found in the Middle East (the finding of one helped trigger the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990). People have been predicting the end of oil for decades, yet the reality is not that we are running out of oil sources, the problem is that we are running out of easy to access oil sources.

The threat is not no more oil, or at least, not in the short term. However, as oil becomes more dificult to extracy (and thus more expensive to extract) that price will be passed onto the consumers. There will come a time, likely in 40-60 years, when pumps in the Middle east will start to run dry, and oil exploration and drilling will have to move elsewhere to meet the demand. Russia, China, Offshore, and other expensive oil projects will enrich new countries, and leave the traditional oil producers weaker and poorer. Eventually the previously banned concept of drilling in the Arctic (where there may be some oil deposits) and the antarctic (where there certainly are oil deposits) will be opened again. You can expect that world debate in about 20 years.

Oil will not run out for centuries, but it will get more and more expensive as it gets more and more expensive to extract. Hopefully over the course of that time, people will be prodded to develop alternative means of power.
AuthorMusician
Vermillion,

Economics will certainly drive the transformation of our use of oil and other fossil fuels. Of this we are in complete agreement, however, consider all the economic forces at work today.

We (the US) are fighting wars and building countries in part to ensure oil supplies. The sustainability of these expensive endeavors is in question as the national debt rises steeply. That's one big pressure.

Another is the jobless recovery. The numbers are looking better for unemployment, but that's not because more people are working as much as more people aren't looking for work. This is driving the family budgets down nationwide. So no new monster SUV or truck is in the future for many families, but a gas-sipping Toyota or Honda hybrid could be. As with the oil crisis of the 1970s, smaller and more efficient vehicles will be favored just because they are cheaper to run.

Meanwhile, the cost of natural gas and electricity will likely continue on their upward trends. Those solar panels mentioned by Mrs. P are a lot more efficient these days and actually can push electricity into the grid, thus reducing the family electric bills.

New build houses are tighter than ever before, when done by reputable builders. I suspect the demand for even better insulation and better energy-efficient designs will grow.

And if some technology like fusion takes off, electricity could become the primary form of energy used worldwide. I do think that will eventually come to pass. If electricity is cheap and plentiful, available on demand, then we can crack water into H2 and O. With hydrogen we can do everything we do now with oil, except maybe make various synthetics and plastics. Eh, but that can be done with soybeans too.

One last thing: I'd not trust OPEC to give good figures on oil reserves. The nations in that organization have vested interests to discourage alternative energies. That's just the nature of economics, but this doesn't mean cheap electricity can't come to pass. If it does, the rules will suddenly change.
Vermillion
A couple things:

1) I personally disagreethat oil has been a driving factor in the recent US wars. In Iraq, I suppose a case could be made that Oil was a significant factor, but to me, given the actions of the US during and after the war, it is not a very compelling case. Regardless of Iraq, even the most rabid conspiracy theorists have given up the borderline-insane argument about Afganistan being all for the sake of a single oil pipeline. The US loses contracts like that on a DAILY basis around the world, often far more expensive. A US company lost the bidding for Vodaphone, in a deal worth 20x as much as the pipeline deal, but they did not invade France... That argument is simply absurd.

2) While you are quite correct about the vested interest of OPEC, they have been surprisingly reasonable in the past with facts, figures and predictions, the regularily brig in auditors and thier party observers probably to make sure people can find their information credible. I cannot attest to the accuracy of the figures above, but given the surprising care with which OPEC puts together its public figures, facts and offering, I have no reason to disbelieve.

3) Fusion was promised to the world decades ago, and little to no progress has been made. It may surprise you to know there are many functioning Fusion reactors around the world, surprisingly the USSR was the leader in this field of research. However not one of these reactors has ever made a net energy profit, all require substantially more enegy input than they give in output.

Hey, if fusion is invented and works, then so be it, but honestly I would suggest you do not hold your breath.
Artemise
Vermillion, I was not suggesting that Afghanistan was an oil war, simply that is was convenient, as we had threatened to take action beforehand. Which means 911 or not , we may have invaded. Then it would have been an oil war (but most likely billed as a war on the Taliban.)

The OPEC predictions have been debunked and revised by experts in the field. Oil companies have revised their reports also.

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/1...global.warming/
Shell revises reserves

Exxon has published a report which says that by 2020 meeting the worlds need for oil and gas is going to be a major challenge and talk about exploring alternative means of energy. ( and starting to use those downed wind mills and solar panels Mrs P.)
http://www.peakoil.net/Publications/20040201ExxonMobil.pdf

Mrs P., this isnt about private homes and hybrid cars, we are talking about converting industry. As the price of oil rises , every production on the planet will slow.
I am not suggesting we are running out of oil, I, and everyone else who is studying it, is saying that with some impoverished nations raising their standard of living and making more demmand, with food costs directly tied into oil, as the cost rises the cost of everything rises. This will have devastating effects on our existance, with a steady recessive to depressive effect on worldwide economies. Oil is directly related to the ability to get anything done.

If we think in global terms, not just 'us', what happens when a good portion of the world cannot afford to feed themselves or transport products or move industry? I believe only one billion of the 3 billion people on the planet now live industrialized nations, but the third world is heavily populated. India for example is on the rise and her population is explosive, hence will be their energy needs.These nations are not exploring alternative energies either, and before they get around to it oil will be too expensive for them. This will lead to burning coal and Co2 emmissions, which cause faster global warming, which cause an increase in deaths from tropical diseases and so forth.

We ARE going to see a major change of lifestyle in our lifetimes and we wont be driving SUV's and taking jet plane vacations. There will very likely be a crisis situation, as well as bigger longer wars. It may not be us, it could be China.
This should really be read. Matt Simmons is energy advisor to the President and spends his life on this stuff.
http://www.greatchange.org/othervoices.html

As far as electricity AM,

"The common thought is therefore that one energy form such as electricity can substitute for another energy form, gasoline. But, clearly this is not readily the case. A gallon of gasoline has the same energy content as one ton of conventional electric storage batteries. Physics of the storage of electricity cannot compete with the convenience of gasoline where a five gallon can of gasoline can be carried, if needed, hundreds of miles to a remote location to be used in some machine. The equivalent would have to be several tons of storage batteries."
http://www.oilcrash.com/petroleum.htm


Experts world-wide are talking about this as a big problem! Only we can say, oh it will be fine, we'll work it out....yes, but what will we live through before 'we work it out' is the interesting question.
Here:
"In 1995, Petroconsultants Pty. Ltd., one of the largest and most respected oil industry analysis and consulting firms, released a document called, 'World Oil Supply 1930-2050'. This report, which was written for oil industry insiders and cost a whopping $32,000 per copy, predicted that global oil production will peak around the year 2000 and decline to 25% by 2025.

"If true, this would be the most devastating event to befall modern man."


"So a steady decline (much less an exponential decline as predicted) in the production of oil would mean a steady economic recession until finally depression. This could happen over 20 or 50 years. And without a ready replacement, it will happen. The question is when."

"If, as some believe, this peak in production is coming soon (or has even already happened) then we are in serious trouble."

.So who are these nays-ayers who claim the sky is falling? Conspiracy fanatics? Apocolyse Bible prophesy readers? To the contrary, they are some of the most respected, highest paid geologist and experts in the world (as only the authors of a document that cost $32,000 could be). And this is what's so scary."
http://www.americanassembler.com/issues/pe...l/peak_oil.html
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nileriver
The idea is sound in that people use oil, the oil comes from somewhere and this oil can run out in time do to it being used. The doomsday part of it comes in on the fact that like hunter-gatherers turning into fishers and such and the rise of the economy, we have allowed oil to become our fishhooks and hunting methods. To escape the artistic stuff, the way that we survive today or most of what we would call advanced society or society is very dependent on the resource we call oil for many different things. If that was to be taken away, you might find politics becoming cheesy sci-fi movies about resource wars and such.

The bottom line is its a psychological thing with the people whom read this, if the environment become worse and it was a 100 degrees in winter and the food on earth was dying, the environment would be much more important then it is now to many people.

This oil thing is very real, its just when it will occur, or when will the oil start to dry out that is the problem.
Hugo
What is happening is the cost of alternative fuels are converging on the cost of oil and gasoline. There will be no crisis. In 1875 an article appeared in Scientific American saying something had to be done soon or population growth in our major cities, and the resulting increase in traffic, would lead to city streets being knee-deep in horse manure. Ethanol is renewable and Henry Ford may have just been premature when he saw it as the fuel of the future. No crisis ahead, the chicken little theorists once again underestimate the power of the free market. It is a possible crisis for those who work in the oil industry.

I remember being told in 1966 that we would soon be running out of oil. That , at most, we had 50 years of oil deposits left.
SWM28WDC
I myself am torn between believing it will be bad, and believing it won't be so bad.

It will be bad, from a simple systems point of view: Right now we have cheap energy. Energy fuels the world economy. Many parts of the world have populations that already exceed the local environment's ability to support: e.g. water in southern california, food in subsaharan Africa, all sorts of things in India.

However, I tend to agree with Hugo, that the price of oil energy is rising, and the price of alternative energy is falling, and one day the twain shall meet. (currently brewing ethanol from corn takes about 125% as much energy from oil as it produces...perhaps this will become more efficient in the future.)

What we need to do in this country, and probably will as the economics of the situation develop, is reduce the amount of energy we require to live, work, and do business, as well as develop alternative energy sources. This is not merely an industrial problem, energy use in the U.S. is divided approximately equally between commercial, residential, industrial, and transportation. ( Energy Statistics) I would like to know exaclty how much went to agriculture, but the DoE includes those data within the residential and industrial sectors.

Saving energy in the residential sector

The lion's share of energy use in the home is from heating and cooling. As energy becomes more expensive, it will become correspondingly more expensive to live in hot and cold climates. Thermally efficient housing will become a must. After HVAC, the next largest use of energy is in hot water heating, then cooking. Other opportunities to reduce energy use include efficient lighting (LEDs or flourescent vs. incandescent), and reduced use of major appliances such as the clothes dryer, dishwasher (drying cycle), computers, stereos, large TVs, etc, though these all are a minor percentage of the cost of heating and cooling. One last point to make is that an incredible amount of energy is used to maintain a grass lawn, from fertilizers, pesticides, weekly mowings, and irrigation. Increasing awareness of residential energy use is important, because the energy use in this sector represents the individual decisions of 270M people, and a small marginal change in the habits of many people equals a large change in energy use.



Saving energy in the commercial & industrial sectors

Heating and cooling are again major culprits here, but it's safe to say the easiest way to increase the efficiency of energy use in these sectors is to raise the cost of energy. With fewer decision makers




Likewise, today's habit of building a building with a 20 year lifespan is a incredible waste of energy, economics will once again dictate that we build for a 100+ year lifespan.
Hugo
A bit of information on ethanol's current energy costs of production. From this link

QUOTE
The use of cellulosic biomass in the production of ethanol also has environmental benefits. Converting cellulose to ethanol increases the net energy balance of ethanol compared to converting corn to ethanol. The net energy balance is calculated by subtracting the energy required to produce a gallon of ethanol from the energy contained in a gallon of ethanol (approximately 76,000 Btu). Corn-based ethanol has a net energy balance of 20,000 to 25,000 Btu per gallon, whereas cellulosic ethanol has a net energy balance of more than 60,000 Btu per gallon.31 In addition, cellulosic ethanol use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Argonne National Laboratory estimates that a 2-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle mile traveled is achieved when corn-based ethanol is used in gasohol (E10), and that a 24- to 26-percent reduction is achieved when it is used in E85. Cellulosic ethanol can produce an 8- to 10-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when used in E10 and a 68- to 91-percent reduction when used in E85.32
popeye47
QUOTE

Right now there are no viable energy alternatives to oil



Why are there no viable energy alternatives to oil? We have put man on the moon and put robots and spacecraft on various planets. Why is finding an alternative to oil so hard to solve.

Is it because it is hard to solve or is it because BIG OIL INTEREST will not allow it.

I find it very hard to believe this issue of oil can not be solved. I have to believe that oil interest are keeping the technology from solving this.

Just think if we could loosen ourselves from the bondage of oil. We wouldn't have to pretend to defend all the Monarchies in the middle east that have the oil.
Artemise
Hugo, ethanol is negative energy, it takes more energy to produce it than it gives out, plus its made from corn, which is a waaste of valuable cropland when more food will be needed already by exploding populations. Corn also depletes soil more rapidly than it can recover, or something like that. Theres a lot of information in the links.

So, you are saying all these experts are wrong? The oil industry does not seem to think so. Again, the problem isnt lack of oil its lack of cheap oil and the economic effects.

SWM28WDC,

Agriculture is most at risk from expensive oil. Most fertilizers and pesticides are made from oil, as well as running all the machinery to plant, harvest and move food to market. That is why there is most concern, is the cost of oil and its impact on food supply.
offwind
QUOTE(popeye47 @ Mar 31 2004, 09:27 PM)

Why are there no viable energy alternatives to oil?  We have put man on the moon and put robots and spacecraft on various planets.  Why is finding an alternative to oil so hard to solve.

Is it because it is hard to solve or is it because BIG OIL INTEREST will not allow it. 

I find it very hard to believe this issue of oil can not be solved.  I have to believe that oil interest are keeping the technology from solving this.

Just think if we could loosen ourselves from the bondage of oil.  We wouldn't have to pretend to defend all the Monarchies in the middle east that have the oil.

There are many technically viable alternatives to OIL to meet our energy needs: Hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, wind, etc. have been available for decades. "Big Oil" would love to do it if they could afford to and still maintain share value and dividends for their investors. You're probably one of those investors and don't know it. Most of us are, albeit indirectly!

It's all about what costs the least for the consumer! Now!

Make you a deal! Pay the energy companies the equivalent of $5.00 a gallon for gasoline for 10 years with $3.00 dollars guaranteed to be devoted to alternate energy sources and you'll have the equivalent of $2.00 a gallon gasoline (inflation adjusted). Otherwise, buy it while it's still relatively cheap by world standards and pay them later for the alternatives.

That is unless oil costs less after 10 years. If so, that's what you'll buy! mrsparkle.gif

Don't tell me about government doing it for you! They have no direct and honest profit motive, just power and graft and will take 25% off the top for the bureaucracy.
Vermillion
QUOTE(popeye47 @ Apr 1 2004, 03:27 AM)
Why are there no viable energy alternatives to oil?  We have put man on the moon and put robots and spacecraft on various planets.  Why is finding an alternative to oil so hard to solve.

Is it because it is hard to solve or is it because BIG OIL INTEREST will not allow it. 

With respect, thats a bit fascile. One could as easily say "We put a man on the moon, why have we not found a cure for Cancer? maybe the big Pharmaceutical companies will not allow it..."

We have not found a viable alternative for oil (yet) because the technology does not exist. After extensive experimentation with electric cars, they simply did not function under some conditions, which is why Hybrid cars are now becoming popular. Solar power, Hydro-electric power and wind power are all great and increasing (In Canada, Hydro power supplies 60% of our power needs) but in the end, it is hard to hook your car up to a dam.

No way has yet been found to make an automobile that does not use Oil AND still meets consumer needs.

If consumers would accept slower cars, with less acceleration, cargo capacity and range, then there would be no problem: but they won't.
Hugo
QUOTE(Artemise @ Mar 31 2004, 10:03 PM)
Hugo, ethanol is negative energy, it takes more energy to produce it than it gives out, plus its made from corn, which is a waaste of valuable cropland when more food will be needed already by exploding populations. Corn also depletes soil more rapidly than it can recover, or something like that.  Theres a lot of information in the links.


That's not true. Read the statistics I posted, plus ethanol from corn is not the way to go. Peak oil is a crisis for the oil industry, not for energy consumers who will switch to alternative sources.

There are genetically modified foods that require no fertilizer. The peak oil scaremongers are assuming technology will not advance. They are akin to the individuals concerned over the prospect of city streets being knee deep in fertilizer (horse manure) a century and a quarter ago.
SWM28WDC
I apologize for the disjointedness of my previous post, I was writing and explorer crashed, i didn't realize it got sent to AD, and I hadn't been back within the edit window. Here's then end, more or less.

In this debate we must be careful to not forget that oil, natural gas, and coal produce 86% of our energy. To switch to nuclear power we'd need 12 times as much production as we do now, and to switch to hydroelectric (and other renewable sources) we'd need 16 times as much production as we do now. Losing our oil supply will require much more than simply finding an electric way to do what we do now. We need to start now, to make it as painless as possible, rather than wait for the cost of energy to skyrocket.

Until we find a source of free energy, every use of energy has a cost, not all of which is covered in the price you pay. We must reduce the amount of energy used to live, or there simply won't be enough energy to go around.

Reducing energy use in transportation

The simplest way to reduce transportation costs is to reduce the distance we move stuff: live closer to where you work and play, and consume things produced closer to where you live. This generally requires less 'sprawl', and liveable urban cores. The area taken up by suburban lawns, strip malls, parking lots, and roads should be parkland to play in, and farmland to eat from.

Automobiles will become more and more efficient. The problem with individually owned automobiles is that as a transportation model, they are convenient, but intrinsically inefficient. Even at peak efficiency they are only used for a few hours each day, and require parking at each end of a journey. My guess, based on a comparison of life-cycle costs and gas consumed per year, is that direct gasoline usage represents only 1/4 to 1/2 of the total energy use of an automobile, and this doesn't consider the vast asphalt network we need to make it convenient. Here is an alternative that is 4-5 times more efficient than the auto in direct energy useage, and many many times more efficient in indirect energy usuage.

Right now, the transportation cost of a consumable good is negligable compared to the labor and other costs associated with it's production. This drives manufacturing jobs further and further away from the consumer. As rising energy costs drive up the cost of transportation, these jobs will return. However, there is much inefficiency in the way we ship goods now. We generally have the choice of trucking or rail freight for surface deliveries. Trains are 3 or 4 times more fuel efficient than trucks but generally can't be depended upon for timely delivery. They also have to compete with an industry that has a completely subsidised infrastructure of highways, roads, and bridges.

For international deliveries we typically can choose between air freight and shipping. Air freight is fast but expensive (and will become more so). Shipping is slow but relatively cheap. As energy costs go up we'll see shipping return to it's roots and harness the wind to reduce use of fuel in transit.
Artemise
QUOTE
The simplest way to reduce transportation costs is to reduce the distance we move stuff: live closer to where you work and play, and consume things produced closer to where you live. This generally requires less 'sprawl', and liveable urban cores. The area taken up by suburban lawns, strip malls, parking lots, and roads should be parkland to play in, and farmland to eat from.


I love this idea. Nice post btw. I also see the skyweb easily becoming a reality.

QUOTE
The peak oil scaremongers are assuming technology will not advance.


They are assuming no such thing. The issue is cost. How many times does it have to be repeated?
Considering that Matt Simmons is an investment banker to the energy industry, Id hardly call him a scaremonger. Why not do a little reading, from both sides of the fence, before you make flagrant assumptions?
Even those who claim there is no need for worry, of which I can only find one organization in a brief Google search, still say we only have oil until about 2100, and claim this 'is so far into the future'. Really? The issue is cheap oil, and we wont have that until 2100.

The debate is about the effects on us and the planet of not having cheap oil any longer.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Artemise @ Apr 1 2004, 04:36 PM)
QUOTE
The peak oil scaremongers are assuming technology will not advance.

They are assuming no such thing. The issue is cost.

Ethanol doesn’t have to be that expensive. We’ve genetically engineered organisms to speed up the fermentation process and convert crops, crop waste, and municipal solid waste into ethanol. Here's a very interesting article, written back in 1996 by two people who worked for the Department of Energy. One was the deputy secretary, and served as the first chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. I am curious why we don't use more of the stuff. unsure.gif
QUOTE
Consider biofuels. In 1994 research sponsored by the DOE created a genetically engineered organism that enhances the fermentation of cellulose, increasing the rate of conversion and the yield of ethanol. This achievement, described in the journal Science, was named one of the hundred most significant technological advances of the year by R&D magazine. This and other federally supported research has brought the cost of making ethanol from $3.60 a gallon fifteen years ago to about $1.00 a gallon today. If biofuels R&D were funded at current levels for five to ten years, ethanol from fast-growing dedicated crops, crop waste, and wastepaper could be produced for as little as sixty to seventy cents a gallon by 2005. In a country with excess cropland, such as the United States, the potential for biofuels is enormous. Rather than paying some farmers not to grow anything, we might in the future pay the same farmers to grow dedicated bioenergy crops. In a country where cropland is scarce, such as China, bioenergy could come from municipal and agricultural wastes.
ndeed, in the past fifteen years the Department of Energy, working with the private sector, has reduced the costs of electricity from biomass (such as crops and crop waste) and wind, bringing them into the current range of wholesale costs for coal and other traditional sources of electricity: three to five cents per kilowatt-hour.
SWM28WDC
Let's review the supply and demand of ethanol and biodiesel....

We currently subsidise the growth of corn, like nothing else we subsidize. We grow twice as much as we need, and dump the surplus in places like Mexico. Should we convert to ethanol for fuel we'd vastly outmatch the supply of corn and other crops...driving up the cost of ethanol AND food.

We have very little demand for ethanol, largely because of the availability of cheap gasoline.

Most telling:

QUOTE
If all the automobiles in the United States were fueled with 100 percent ethanol, a total of about 97 percent of U.S. land area would be needed to grow the corn feedstock. Corn would cover nearly the total land area of the United States.


From A Cornell University Report
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(SWM28WDC @ Apr 2 2004, 07:38 AM)
Let's review the supply and demand of ethanol and biodiesel....

We currently subsidise the growth of corn, like nothing else we subsidize.  We grow twice as much as we need, and dump the surplus in places like Mexico.  Should we convert to ethanol for fuel we'd vastly outmatch the supply of corn and other crops...driving up the cost of ethanol AND food.


We aren't restricted to using corn, though...what about the conversion of municipal solid wastes? We also aren't restricted to using ONLY ethanol.
SWM28WDC
From my earlier post, it would take roughly the entire surface of the US to grow enough corn to power all the AUTOMOBILES we currently use. Automobile use might represent 1/4 of the fossil fuel use in the U.S.

Corn is one of, if not the, most energy dense (per acre) crop around. This is one of the reasons it's so hard on the soil. If we change to another crop, we must grow more. This includes grass, lawn clippings, etc.

Taking it from the field to the distillery means that all of it's available energy is going to create fuel. If it has to pass through a digestive tract first, much of it's energy is going to be stripped and used by the owner of that digestive tract, and unavailable for use by anyone else. Again we're looking at needing more acres of crop to begin with.

In a world with no fossil oil, only a very few industries will require the energy density of manufactured (bio-) fuels. The only one I can think of is aviation. Just about everyone else can deal with less energy dense energy storage methods (i.e. batteries).
santasdad
Its funny that everyone looks to agriculture to solve their shortfalls. The paper industry wants a simpler way to grow paper and the fuel people want agro-fuel. I think the agriculture industry will have its hands full as it stands.

Maybe the aricultural lobby and paper folks should start funding studies to make green beans and cliff notes out of crude oil and little plastic molds. Im sure weve got plenty of excess capacity to spare on such efforts.
Hugo
A little information on upcoming technology. Speaking of the singularity:


What are the consequences of this event? When greater-than-human
intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid.
In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve
the creation of still more intelligent entities -- on a still-shorter
time scale. The best analogy that I see is with the evolutionary past:
Animals can adapt to problems and make inventions, but often no faster
than natural selection can do its work -- the world acts as its own
simulator in the case of natural selection. We humans have the ability
to internalize the world and conduct "what if's" in our heads; we can
solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection.
Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher
speeds, we are entering a regime as radically different from our human
past as we humans are from the lower animals.

From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away
of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an
exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Developments that
before were thought might only happen in "a million years" (if ever)
will likely happen in the next century. (In [5], Greg Bear paints a
picture of the major changes happening in a matter of hours.)

The complete article can be found at http://kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu/~kamikaze/documents/vinge.html. My guess is the reality will be somewhere between the peak oil scaremongers and the singularity scaremongers. New technologies will provide cheaper forms of energy. We already have solar, hydroelectric, oil from agriculture (notice how people keep focusing on corn despite evidence there are much more efficient products for producing ethanol), hydrogen fuel cells, wind, etc. We also have work proceeding on super lubricants, reduce friction and you reduce the need for energy. The costs of alternatives to oil are converging, no crisis ahead. Simply scaremonging by the environmental wackos and individuals whose livelihood depends on oil remaining our chief source of energy.
Hobbes
QUOTE
Right now there are no viable energy alternatives to oil. Nuclear energy, the only 'new' energy alternative in the 20th century died in 20 years.


This seems to be the major premise of the argument here, and one which I would have to strongly disagree with. There are many viable energy alternatives available currently (wind, hydrothermal, and solar, just to name a few environmentally sound ones--oil is merely the one usually chosen because it is cheaper. This is the falacy of the peak oil argument--it assumes no substitute. As prices rise, other alternatives become more attractive, research becomes more viable, conservation efforts get more impetus. None of these gets much attention currently, because oil IS cheap. And as longer as that remains the case, there will little attention paid to the alternatives, as they're not necessary. That is simply fact--it is economically not beneficial to spend time, effort, or money to solving this problem until it does in fact start to become a problem--that time, money, and effort can be better spent on solving other, more pressing issues.

My roommate in college went after this topic with a vengeance (strong conservationist)--trying to disprove the theory that technology would in fact inevitably solve all such problems. He couldn't do it then, and I haven't seen any major evidence come out recently to make a stronger argument against that fact. Its just human nature--we are technological, economical beings. As the need arises, effort is placed on solving it, and the technology does in fact arise. The only way to argue strongly against this phenomenon in this case, IMHO, would be to some how show that such technology would simply be beyond the laws of physics. That isn't the case--the alternatives exist, they're just not economical at the current time.

Please don't assume from this point I am arguing against being proactive and putting a solution in place ahead of time. I'm only trying to point out why I don't see that happening, regardless of any arguments for it.
SWM28WDC
Personally, I think you last two are right...technology will solve our energy needs in the future. The issue is that, as a closed system, we currently have a surplus of energy, in the form of cheap stored chemical energy in oil mined from the ground. As this oil is used up, and energy becomes more expensive, our lives will become different...how much so remains to be seen.
Artemise
Here is a new article talking about declining oil reserves. New York Times.

I believe we are going to see more and more of this coming up soon.

QUOTE
'The Royal Dutch/Shell Group's oil production in Oman has been declining for years, belying the company's optimistic reports and raising doubts about a vital question in the Middle East: whether new technology can extend the life of huge but mature oil fields. '

The company's falling production and reduced reserves in Oman are part of a broader problem facing Shell, the British-Dutch oil giant that earlier this year lowered its estimate of worldwide reserves, a crucial financial indicator, by 20 percent, or 3.9 billion barrels.

Documents show that senior executives were told the calculations of reserves were too high in 2002, at least two years before the company downgraded its estimate this January.

While Oman represents a small part of Shell's reserves, oil industry experts say the company's experience there highlights broader questions about the future role of Western oil companies and their technology in the Persian Gulf, which has most of the world's oil reserves.

In the case of the Yibal field, for example, Shell and Omani oil engineers and auditors have expressed concerns that a technique Sir Philip said would recover more oil not only did not do so, but also increased the amount of water in the extracted oil to as much as 90 percent of the total volume, increasing production costs.

'Perhaps more ominously for the world's oil outlook, he added that the failure of Shell's horizontal drilling technology in Oman suggested that even advanced extraction techniques "won't bring back the good old days."


http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/08/business...print&position=

QUOTE
Right now there are no viable energy alternatives to oil. Nuclear energy, the only 'new' energy alternative in the 20th century died in 20 years.


Hobbes
QUOTE
This seems to be the major premise of the argument here, and one which I would have to strongly disagree with. There are many viable energy alternatives available currently (wind, hydrothermal, and solar, just to name a few environmentally sound ones--oil is merely the one usually chosen because it is cheaper. This is the falacy of the peak oil argument--it assumes no substitute.


There is NO substitute. Windmills and solar panels are not going to fly planes, propell trains, trucks, tractors or get food to market for an ever increasing population many of which border on starvation already.
Cheap oil is the question, once again. Yes, we will adapt. But the question is how? Its a philosophical debate, made to make one think other than write it off as, well it will be ok cause we shall manage. Technology has not come up with anything in 30 years to solve this problem since it first arose as a concern. Right now we are seeing declining reserves in both oil and gas so technology as savior is LATE.
pbottle
I agree that there is no substitute for fossil fuels to maintain the current state of mankind's activities.

Which simply means that our lifestyles will change considerably as we pass world peak production of oil and the alternative sources are found to be inadaquate. The vast coal reserves if then relied upon will dirty urban and other local atmospheres to an unacceptable degree - as is currently happening in China - and will probably be severely rationed as a result.

The supremely important question of fertilizer for agriculture will be solved by a replacement of petroleum-deriviates for good old-fashioned human waste - 'night soil'. The good news in having some 7 or 8 billion people at that time will be in the issue from those multitudinous rumps. "Every stomach comes with a pair of hands", fortunately, as well as a fertility-filled lower intestine and bladder. Proper management of these resources as well as intelligent and widespread horticulture will not only save the day but produce a much healthier humanity within a few years.

The old days of going anywhere whenever, doing anything just when desired, having whatever without a fraction of physical exertion will be gone. Gone also will be the need to excersize for the sake of excersize. The transition may be difficult for some and in some regions. Considerable reduction in human population is a possibility, although a small one is more likely. The 'first world' countries will likely become highly stratified and possibly neo-medieval. Yoemanry will come to the fore-front of society and be instrumental in the new society.

Hey, it'll be fun!
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