Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Not The End Of The World

Presented below is a rough poem about peak oil and the future that came to me the other night. I hope you will indulge me, and not run screaming for the door.

The end of the age of oil is
Not the end of the world
The end of collective fantasy
Following Father too long
While Mother has been beckoning
Back to her embrace

Time now
To quench the fires of industry
To still the broken atoms
To put aside spear and shield
And find what we've forgotten

Time now
To dirty hands with Mother Earth
To go gathering up the bounty
To take up the scythe and staff
And seek out what's within

Black gold fools gold
Has blinded us too long
True gold black gold
Reeking earthy mold
Virulent life
Verdant trees
Blue raincloaked skies
And crystal streams once more


Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D. said...

Peak Oil is not the end of the world, but it is the end of most people on the planet.

Global crude oil production peaked in 2008.

The media, governments, world leaders, and public should focus on this issue.

Global crude oil production had been rising briskly until 2004, then plateaued for four years. Because oil producers were extracting at maximum effort to profit from high oil prices, this plateau is a clear indication of Peak Oil.

Then in August and September of 2008 while oil prices were still very high, global crude oil production fell nearly one million barrels per day, clear evidence of Peak Oil (See Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of "Oil Watch Monthly," December 2008, page 1)

Peak Oil is now.

Credit for accurate Peak Oil predictions (within a few years) goes to the following (projected year for peak given in parentheses):

* Association for the Study of Peak Oil (2007)

* Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly” (2008)

* Tony Eriksen, Oil stock analyst; Samuel Foucher, oil analyst; and Stuart Staniford, Physicist [Wikipedia Oil Megaprojects] (2008)

* Matthew Simmons, Energy investment banker, (2007)

* T. Boone Pickens, Oil and gas investor (2007)

* U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005)

* Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Princeton professor and retired shell geologist (2005)

* Sam Sam Bakhtiari, Retired Iranian National Oil Company geologist (2005)

* Chris Skrebowski, Editor of “Petroleum Review” (2010)

* Sadad Al Husseini, former head of production and exploration, Saudi Aramco (2008)

* Energy Watch Group in Germany (2006)

* Fredrik Robelius, Oil analyst and author of "Giant Oil Fields" (2008 to 2018)

Oil production will now begin to decline terminally.

Within a year or two, it is likely that oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand. OPEC cuts could exacerbate the gap between supply and demand and drive prices even higher.

Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated building systems.

Documented here:

Geoff said...

Hi Clifford,

You certainly wont get any arguments from me. I'm in the Peak Everything camp, and believe we are well and truly over our carrying capacity.

It's not the end of the world, as world does not equate to people.

It's not the end of humanity, though it will mean the end of much of humanity.

It certainly is the end of our current way of life.

You say media, governments et al should focus on the issue? I'm at the stage where I ask, "Why?"

If, as I suspect, there is absolutely nothing we can do to save a large proportion of society's teeming masses, what can really be gained from alerting them to a problem which cannot be solved?

It is a morally loaded issue.

Imagine you are on the only lifeboat attached to a sinking Titanic. Everyone else is oblivious, enjoying themselves. You know there is, at most, room for 10 people on that lifeboat.

How do you deal with that situation?

If you alert everyone to the impending crisis, what happens then? You've created mass panic where there is no hope of salvation for 95% or more of the passengers.

If you don't alert them, are they being cheated of a chance to make the best of it, perhaps improvising rafts before the ship goes down?

Would they even bother doing that, instead fighting to the bitter end over the few places available in the lifeboat? Are they better off enjoying the last few moments of their lives in oblivious happiness?

Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D. said...

Hi geoff,

The vast majority of people will not listen, so I have no worry of too many people on the lifeboat. On the contrary, there is lots of room on this lifeboat where I live and few come to enjoy the good life here.

Geoff said...

Hi Clifford,

"On the contrary, there is lots of room on this lifeboat where I live and few come to enjoy the good life here."

It's the same over here. What seems to be the most logical solution, a migration back to agricultural regions, is being largely ignored.

Ideas such as transition towns and so on have become the focus of people's hope, and perhaps in some ways a method of hoping without risking too drastic a change.

The main problem I see there is that the active membership is usually well less than 10%, often even less than 1% of the local population, which aren't good odds given the future we're all facing.

Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D. said...


I agree. Most of the transition and post carbon groups are not facing the collapse ahead, rather think we will go back slowly in time.

After the last power black out, the people living in rural areas will find that surviving will become increasing difficult without all of the goods from the “outside” (food, canning jars, fencing, roofing, hay, straw, seed, animal feed, plastic tarps, fertilizer, clothes, fabric, medicine, hardware, saws, wood stoves, etc.). The survivors will be the very few who live in areas with good rain and soil and who prepared intelligently for a life without oil.