Wowza. It appears that the Chicago Tribune, or at least some of the folks there, get peak oil. For the second time in two weeks that have published major stories on the end of oil. The first was last week and if you did not check it out you really should, A tank of gas, a world of trouble. Very well done. And today they have this story, Oil’s twilight:
“Our nation’s energy-intensive joy ride, powered by 150 years of cheap petroleum, may finally be coming to an end. This could be as good as it gets.” As good as it gets. That’s a haunting phrase for those who wince at $3-plus gas at the pump. You mean, it could be higher?
Even the rosiest estimates show oil production peaking by midcentury and then diving. The next decades portend higher prices, more competition. This is not, as one analyst says, a temporary Arab oil embargo, as in the 1970s. It will not be “your father’s energy crisis.”
Notice, they say cheap petroleum “may finally be coming to an end.” Wrong. It is coming to an end. “Could be as good as it gets” and “could be higher” should have the “could” removed. See, even here we have the language of possibility rather than certainty. What many don’t understand is that peak oil is not a question of “if” but a question of when. It will happen. I think it’s happening now, some say 5 years, some say 20. We’ll see.
The solution isn’t only about increasing auto mileage standards, drilling for oil in heretofore pristine wilderness or funding research into promising new technologies. That won’t be nearly enough. This is about 300 million Americans making decisions every day about how they use energy–and changing behaviors ingrained for decades.
Next time you’re at the pump, shaking your head about $3 gas, start multiplying.
Now that the peak is upon us I suspect we’ll be seeing lots more of these articles which is a great thing. We need a massive powerdown and if people don’t understand the problem they won’t make changes. As I’ve said with climate change, it’s probably too late to avoid a crash landing. Some say that if we make big changes right now (I’d say the next 2-3 years though many “experts” say we have 10 years) we might soften the landing a bit. We’ll see won’t we?