Peak energy and the lessons of 2005

Jim Kunstler offers his Season’s Greetings over at Clusterfuck Nation. He posts a new entry each week and it is inevitably followed by very lively comments. One of my favorite weekly reads. Always informative and his gloomy outlook parallels my own.

Observers are already writing off 2005 as if it had shown us everything it has to show. I think the holiday frenzy will be as instructive as the hurricanes of late summer.

A mild late-autumn combined with extra imports of European oil and refined fuels, and withdrawals from our own strategic reserve, have held the gasoline prices down here in the US. But the northeast got a four-day cold blast over Thanksgiving, along with a substantial snowfall, and the furnaces are now cranking away, even as the WalMart shoppers commenced their first mad tramplings of the season.

Natural gas, methane, which powers half the home furnaces in America, is a separate story from oil, of course. We can’t import it like oil because it requires special pressurized tanker ships and dedicated port facilities — of which there are currently only two in America — and getting it here by those means even if the facilities were in place would be very un-cheap. We are way past all-time peak natural gas production in the US, meanwhile, and desperately making up for it by importing all we can from Canada, which is compelled to sell us as much as we demand under the NAFTA rules, despite the fact that they are way past their own all-time gas production peak and desperately need the stuff to process the tar sands of Alberta into oil (which China has contracted to buy a great deal of). You may have noticed, too, that Canada is a northerly nation with significant home heating needs of its own.

2005 was a wake up call not only regarding energy resources but also climate change… a wake up call we’ve missed. As obvious as the signs are the mass of people still seem to not get it.

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