As most of you know, I am not a Bush fan but after watching a documentary on the current state of oil one is made to wonder if an apocalypse is on the horizon. What will happen to Americans if our oil supplies are suddenly withdrawn? Following is a summary of the opinions of widely respected geologists, physicists, bankers, and investors from around the world who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global “peak oil.”
First off, according to Dr. Colin Campbell, one must realize that oil will not just run out but will become increasingly scarce and expensive as demand increases and availability decreases. Today, with China entering the race of industrialized nations, the need for greater supplies of available crude oil has increased dramatically and despite the fact that the same amount of oil is being produced, this increasing demand has escalated the cost of gasoline and home fuels.
It is this worldwide demand for oil that will result in a resource war as oil-dependent economies begin to crumble. Today we are at Peak Oil, also called “Hubbert’s Peak,” named for Shell geologist Dr. Marion King Hubbert who, in 1956, accurately predicted that global oil production would peak in 1995, which it would have, had the politically created oil shocks of the 1970s not delayed the peak for about 10-15 years. So what does this mean to the average American consumer? It basically means that in the year 2030, if oil production remains consistent there will be twice as many people dependent on it thus cutting what is available to us in half. This is going to result in prices skyrocketing which in turn will result in oil-dependent economies crumbling as it becomes too expensive to deliver necessary goods to market or for businesses to operate.
Other than government and business how will this affect the average consumer? According to geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer, in his article Eating Fossil Fuels, it takes ten calories of fossil fuel to produce every one calorie of food eaten in the US. In other words, getting food to market would be so expensive that there would be massive food shortages. This cost is based on the cost of pesticides that are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas, which will peak approximately ten years after oil peaks. It also includes the needed farming implements, like tractors that are constructed and powered by oil. Then you need refrigeration, which is constructed in oil-powered plants and refrigerated trucks that also require oil to deliver the food supplies.
Norman Church wrote in The Wilderness about how quickly our food stores can be depleted by recalling the summer of 2000 when protestors blockaded UK oil refineries and fuel distribution depots causing food and industry leaders to warn that their stores would be out of food within days.
Frighteningly, however, not just transportation and agriculture are entirely dependent on abundant, cheap oil but modern medicine, water distribution, and national defense are each entirely powered by oil and petroleum derived chemicals.
So what about alternative energy systems like solar panels and wind turbines? Can’t we just change to these simple alternatives? It is not that easy as even these alternative devices are manufactured using petroleum and petroleum derived resources.
According to Richard J. Barnet, author of The Lean Years: Politics of Scarcity, all electrical devices make use of silver, copper, and/or platinum. He then goes on to state that it takes the equivalent of 17.8 barrels of oil to produce a ton of copper and the energy cost of aluminum is twenty times higher. Even nuclear energy, which many American’s shy away from requires uranium, which is also discovered, extracted, and transported using oil-powered machinery.
Many may come back with questions about supplementing oil with ethanol or other oil alternatives but sadly these alternatives are actually derivatives of oil and without an abundant and reliable supply of oil, it is impossible to make the alternatives.
Basically, what all this means is that in an oil-based economy such as ours one doesn’t have to deplete its entire oil reserve before the shortfall between demand and supply will shatter our economy. Those who are used to the good life will find themselves using their fun money to survive and those who are already struggling may be forced into poverty and find it impossible to survive at all.
So, maybe the Bush Administration is a little more far-sighted than many of us wish to believe and his desire to have some control over what oil exists may save our necks in the future. If that is the case then his excuse for invading Iraq, while deceptive, was to prevent a major war while ensuring that Americans could continue to live at least for the short-term, in a manner similar to the one they already have.
[tags]oil shortages, Iraq war, Iraqi oil, Food shortages, oil-based economies, oil, natural gas, shortages, oil dependency, oil-based economies, Dale Pfieffer, Eating Fossil Fuels, Richard J. Barnet, The Lean Years, nuclear energy, ethanol, solar panels[/tags]