This is something I ran into a year or so ago and I’ve been reading a bit about it. Its an idea some of you are probably familiar with and others may not be.
Basically, the plot of an individual oil well’s output against time is a bell curve; first the oil comes out slowly, then it peaks, then it declines. Some guy went and did the math adding up all the contributions from each well and speculated future wells calculating the cumulative output of oil from the earth to be a big bell curve, mirroring the same graph of an individual well on a larger scale.
Many estimates put the peak at right around 2010. This means that oil production will be declining from about now until it is gone.
Additionally, less net energy is gained from the oil as more energy has to be used to get it; First, the oil was under pressure and it flowed out naturally and now energy has to be used to pump it out. Additionally, as land wells dry out, people move to offshore locations requiring the building of oil rigs in deep, deep water which naturally requires a lot of energy to build and maintain as well. This energy has to be subtracted from the amount of energy produced from the oil in the well.
Westernized, industrial life is dependent on oil in every way imaginable. From oil to heat ones home, to drive to work, to watch TV and jerk around on the internet, etc. Also, oil based pesticides and fertilizers are used to grow crops, which are harvested by gasoline driven machines, which in turn are processed in plants powered by electricity from power plants. Pretty much every good produced and a lot of services are dependent on oil in some way shape or form.
This translates to economies as these goods and services have some value and are traded for money. Peak oil states, that sooner or later, supply and demand will drive the cost of oil above value of goods that can be produced with it. Then shit will hit the fan. Many people have theorized that the current financial crisis is the first in a long line of calamities that will slowly decay life as we know it.
Now, this all seems perfectly rational to me, that oil is a finite resource and it is largely treated as an infinite one, and I’m as much to blame as anybody. I’m very concerned about this, considering the time frames I have read about will occur through my adult years.
Now, I would like to hear others opinions and thoughts, and I’m kind of looking for somebody to tell me it is bullshit, when every rational bone in my body is saying tough luck because I’m going to have to deal with it.
Is peak oil a real issue or a conspiracy theory?
If it turns out to be a real threat, would you be willing to change your lifestyle and attempt to use less energy? How far would you take it, such as driving a smaller car, riding a bike as a primary means of transportation, relocating to an area less susceptible to the fallout, move out to the middle of the woods, learn how to make a windmill out of lumber and an alternator, repair build small engines, etc.?
If you do feel it is a threat, how have you changed your habits and lifestyle?
If you do feel it is a threat, how have you prepared for the result?