Whether you drive a Ford Expedition or not, you depend on this black liquid every single day of your life. Unfortunately, in the years ahead that is going to change. How easily you adjust to this change depends on the actions you take now.
In this post I attempt to explain the what, when, why and how of the Peak Oil Theory and some ways to decrease your dependence on this diminishing resource.
What is Peak Oil?
“Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline (Wikipedia).”
“The world is not running out of oil itself, but rather its ability to produce high-quality cheap and economically extractable oil on demand. After more than fifty years of research and analysis on the subject by the most widely respected & rational scientists, it is now clear that the rate at which world oil producers can extract oil is reaching the maximum level possible. This is what is meant by Peak Oil. With great effort and expenditure, the current level of oil production can possibly be maintained for a few more years, but beyond that oil production must begin a permanent & irreversible decline. The Stone Age did not end because of the lack of stones, and the Oil Age won’t end because of lack of oil. The issue is lack of further growth, followed by gradual, then steep decline. Dr. King Hubbert correctly predicted peaking of USA oil production in the 1970’s on this basis (oildecline.com).”
When Will Peak Oil Happen?
This is a hard question to answer but “most experts agree that the only reliable way to identify the timing of peak oil will be in retrospect” (Wikipedia).
“However, worldwide discovery of oil peaked in 1964 and while there is no agreement yet on the exact date that world oil production will peak, the degree of consensus among them is quite remarkable. Out of 21 studies, the statistical mean date is 2013 (excluding some of the biased oil company estimates), suggesting that the world may be facing shortfalls much sooner than expected (oildecline.com)”
Why Should You Care?
You may not realize the extent to which you use oil but your whole life revolves around it. The gas you put in your car (or SUV) is only a drop in the bucket (pun intended):
Of the 85 million barrels of oil the world uses everyday (and the demand is growing exponentially), 44% is made into gasoline, 35% is made into other fuels and the rest is used in: asphalt; farming- machinery, fertilizers, pesticides; plastics; Styrofoam, chemicals in cosmetics; clothing- spandex, nylon, polyester and thousands of other products (transitionculture.org).”
Oil is an energy source and it’s a very good one at that. In fact, there’s no other energy source out there that we can do so much with- it’s extremely versatile (of course there’s the sun, but we’re no where close to having the ability to harness its power).
Oil is the lifeblood of our economy and unfortunately, it’s the lifeblood of your whole way of life. Without oil – without cheap and abundant oil – your life will dramatically change.
I think I remember reading that it took around 50-300 million years for oil to form beneath the earth’s surface and we have essentially used half of it in only 100 years. We majorly blew it (not to mention demand for it is continuously going up).
In essence, “we have created a system of infinite growth that is colliding with finite energy.”
What You Can Do to Prepare for Peak Oil
Oil is not going to disappear over night but the price of gasoline and petroleum products are only going to rise (personally, I wonder if my grandchildren will ever fly in an airplane).
Experts say that we should have started planning decades ago in order to properly mitigate the effects of peak oil.
But of course that didn’t happen.
You cannot rely on your political leaders to be proactive or even truthful about peak oil. It’s easier for them to react to crises than to confront difficult realities.
Preparing for peak oil will most likely be a grassroots affair. It will be up to individuals and their communities to brace themselves for gas shortages and the raising costs of oil products.
As for you, the sooner you begin preparing for peak oil, the better and here some ways you can do just that:
1. Most importantly, work on becoming as self-sufficient as possible. Grow your own food, learn permaculture, keep backyard chickens, obtain back-up energy sources, and take control of your own health. If you live in the city, try your hand at urban homesteading.
2. Collect 3 months worth of food and 2 weeks’ worth of water. This will prepare you for short term disruptions in the supply chain. This not only applies to raising gas prices, thus making everything else more expensive, but also for crazy weather, power outages, and civil unrest.
3. Use less of everything. Don’t be a part of our throw-away society anymore. Use less gas, water, electricity, plastics, etc. Produce and conserve instead of just consume
4. Become apart of the Transition Movement and start a Transition Town. This is a fascinating organization. Their aim is to relocalize economies and prepare communities for the challenges of peak oil, climate change and economic crisis. It’s the only group I know of that is attempting anything like this.
What do you think about peak oil? Do you think it’s being blown out of proportion or do you think it’s a significant problem?
Photo Credit: AZRainman