Peak oil is inevitable

And the free market is bringing it. Nuts to you, Bob Brown.

Amory Lovins in Foreign Affairs:

A Farewell to Fossil Fuels | Foreign Affairs.

U.S. gasoline demand peaked in 2007; the oil use of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development peaked in 2005. With China and India pursuing efficient and electric vehicles, Deutsche Bank forecast in 2009 that world oil use could begin to decline after 2016. In fact, the world is nearing “peak oil” — not in supply but in demand. Oil is simply becoming uncompetitive even at low prices before it becomes unavailable even at high prices.

I also want to throw in this story, for good measure:

In 1850, most U.S. homes used whale-oil lamps, and whaling was the country’s fifth-biggest industry. But as whale populations dwindled, the price of whale oil rose, so between 1850 and 1859, coal-derived synthetic fuels grabbed more than five-sixths of the lighting market. In 1859, Edwin Drake struck oil, and kerosene, thanks to generous tax breaks, soon took over. Whalers, astounded that they had run out of customers before they ran out of whales, begged for federal subsidies on national security grounds, but Thomas Edison’s 1879 invention of electric lighting snuffed out their industry. Whales had been accidentally saved by technological innovators and profit-maximizing capitalists.

Energy efficiency is strategically important, but it also saves money. There is no need for Government to start saving the world here, human innovation is doing it just fine, thank you.

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  1. #1 by informationforager on April 14, 2012 - 8:12 am

    The “Peak Oil Future” is a different idea than the “Running Out of Oil Future”. It’s not about volume, it’s about rate. That’s why it’s called a “Peak”, and not the “End”. In other words we can’t produce enough to sustain the economy and the world. Yes we will have oil, but not for all of us. Essentially the floating surplus that keeps the game going will evaporate and we will turn into a world where 7 billion people will want the very next barrel of oil coming out of the ground. It will be the end of cheap oil and the world will collapse.

    When we think of the discoveries like off the coast of Brazil, they all sound so promising(15 Billion Barrels of Oil). Unfortunately the world uses 31.3 billion barrels a year so a discovery of 15 billion would only last a half a year. That’s if we could pump it fast enough, which we can’t. Even Saudi Arabia can’t do that from dry land.

    When we think of oil, we picture the gas tank analogy. When the needle reaches E for empty is when we are in trouble. The world does in fact have a trillion barrels of oil left to produce. The real analogy is like a Pearl Harbor reconnaissance plane flying its mission over the ocean. The plane flies as far as it can for as high as it can. The pilot fulfils the mission of aerial photography of enemy positions. At a certain point though the pilot knows he must turn around at the HALF WAY point of the gas gauge to make it back home. When the needle reaches at half the tank the pilot MUST RETREAT and DESCEND to make it back to base. When the world has produced as much oil as it ever can in one day (peaked), when it has flown as far as it can for as high as it can the world economy MUST RETREAT and DESCEND.

  2. #2 by MK on April 14, 2012 - 5:40 pm

    I understand the “peak oil” argument. The whole premise is that demand will eventually exceed supply, which will cause the phenomenon of the world fighting for the next drop to come out of the ground.

    The point Lovins was making is that the reverse is happening. It is actually demand that peaked first. If demand continues to decline before the supply has peaked, then the whole “peak oil” premise is undermined.

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