A Man with a Flashlight


Heads in the sand
July 1, 2007, 11:09 am
Filed under: The Earth

I’m not an expert, but the theory of peak oil seems straightforward to me. The petroleum we use accumulated slowly over millions of years. There is no prospect of renewing it, at least not on a human timescale. As it becomes increasingly scarce, it will become increasingly expensive. And at some point, there will be left only petroleum which requires more energy to extract than it yields. In any case, long before that it will be so expensive that solar power will be a bargain by comparison, and oil will be dead. (Please do correct me if I’ve blundered so far.)

So I guess we should not be reassured when the chief economist for British Petroleum claims that oil is infinite:

This scenario is flatly denied by BP, whose chief economist Peter Davies has dismissed the arguments of “peak oil” theorists.

“We don’t believe there is an absolute resource constraint. When peak oil comes, it is just as likely to come from consumption peaking, perhaps because of climate change policies as from production peaking.”

So we don’t have to worry about the inevitable downslope in oil production making it prohibitively expensive, because the environmental costs of using oil will be prohibitively high, killing demand for it.

An interesting prediction, especially since there seems to be no indication of this coming drop in demand:

BP’s review shows that world demand for oil has grown faster in the past five years than in the second half of the 1990s. Today we consume an average of 85 million barrels daily. According to the most conservative estimates from the International Energy Agency that figure will rise to 113 million barrels by 2030.

We are addicted to oil, and like any junkie, we have an assortment of lies to support our habit. No-one wants to be the one who tells us the obvious: oil is the author of our current way of life, and that way of life may last no longer than the oil does.

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daite na pivoi

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