Friday, January 25, 2008

Peak Oil

So last night I was reading the Mothering forums again. There was one topic about The End of Suburbia. This is apparently a movie which covers the issue of Peak Oil, which I had never heard of before. So I spent quite a bit of time last night reading the wikipedia article on the subject.

Maybe everyone in the world has heard of this but me, but it's new to me so I'm going to share my thoughts! And hopefully, summarize it decently so you don't have to go read that AWFUL wikipedia article. Please take everything I say with a grain of salt... I'm no expert on the subject and I'm writing from memory from one wikipedia article!

So basically a dude came up with a theory in the 1950's that the world's production of oil will at some point peak, and from then on production will go down. He seems to think it is basically a bell curve. The problem is, it's pretty hard to determine WHEN it will peak... it's only possible to determine after the fact. For example, the US's oil production peaked in 1971... ever since then, oil production has been going down. Actually, the oil production in all non-OPEC, non-former Soviet countries has peaked! It seems that quite a few people think that the overall world oil production has peaked (many seem to think it peaked in 2005 or 2006) and others think it will peak in the next few years. Others think that the whole Peak Oil thing is not true - some OPEC person said recently that there is enough oil to sustain a $50 - 60 a barrel price through 2030 and after that it will rise but only to match inflation. Some think that it will plateau at some point, or that we won't reach Peak Oil because Peak Oil is 100+ years out at current consumption rates and we will find enough alternatives before that that we will never really get there, or see a large impact when we do. There was also something about if we respond when Peak Oil happens, we will have huge problems. If we plan 10 years ahead of time, still big problems. If we plan 20 years in advance, we might be okay.

Okay, say Peak Oil happens. One of the things they say will happen is that the world will not be able to sustain this many people! Instead of all the pesticide farming we do now everything will have to go back to organic. Some organic farmers say they have been able to reach the yields we currently see in pesticide farming (I'm calling it that not as the technical name, but whatever it's called, I just mean the kind of mass-production farming that we mostly know today), but that it takes a lot of labor. So either (a) they won't be able to make enough food for everyone to survive or (b) it will be so expensive because of the cost of labor that many people won't be able to afford it. We will also see a shift in labor from urban to rural areas. Another thing is they say the suburbs will die, because we won't all be able to live on our little plots of land and drive to work, the grocery store, friends house's, etc. all the time.

That's kind of the gist of it... obviously there's a lot more to it, but those are the points that stuck out to me. Kind of a conspiracy theory sounding thing, but it's interesting. The other thing that I thought is - so is it better to live in the city, where you can walk to work, the grocery store, etc. or is better to live in the country where you can grow your own crops and raise animals and stuff? If there is no food in the grocery store, the city won't do you much good - but if you can't get to work from the country that won't do you much good either. So I don't know what the right "answer" to "protect" yourself from Peak Oil is. :)

I told my co-worker about this this morning, and she immediately went to the website and ordered the movie! I was amused by that... but she said she'll let me borrow it. So I'm anxious to see it and learn more. :)

I have added so many blogs to my Google Reader lately that I have had to add a catagories - one is Personal Finance, and the other is "Conspiracy Freaks" - two blogs that I added yesterday where these people write about what they are doing to become self-sustaining in case of Peak Oil. Weird. But I'm interested to see what they say. So many weird-o topics I've been reading about lately. That's my food for thought today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

another question about peak oil, will people migrate back to the area they grew up to be closer to their families because plane travel will be prohibitively expensive. it will be like a reverse oregon trail!