Ever hear of "peak oil?" It's time to start thinking seriously about a world without petroleum.
[The Independent/UK, via Common Dreams:]]
The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned.
Higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could blow any recovery off course, said Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris, which is charged with the task of assessing future energy supplies by OECD countries.
In an interview with The Independent, Dr Birol said that the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years - at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.
"[T]he first detailed assessment of more than 800 oil fields in the world, covering three quarters of global reserves, has found that most of the biggest fields have already peaked and that the rate of decline in oil production is now running at nearly twice the pace as calculated just two years ago," we're told.
We've always known that petroleum was a finite resource, but we've been operating as if it's not. On top of global warming, we also have to deal with the indisputable fact that we won't have any oil to burn in the future -- and that future may come sooner than we think. Do we want to fight wars over a dwindling resource we'll eventually have to do without anyway or do we want to prepare for the inevitable?
Reducing our oil consumption significantly is one thing, but reducing it to zero is another. And reducing it to zero is not something we can avoid forever.
"One day we will run out of oil, it is not today or tomorrow, but one day we will run out of oil and we have to leave oil before oil leaves us, and we have to prepare ourselves for that day," Dr Birol said. "The earlier we start, the better, because all of our economic and social system is based on oil, so to change from that will take a lot of time and a lot of money and we should take this issue very seriously."
Crunch time is now, because waiting until the well runs dry would be incredibly stupid.