Scary and real premonition

There is a bombshell of a problem on its way: Peak Oil, or energy resource depletion

By Justin Chapman, Courier (Pasadena City College), 4/28/2005

There is a bombshell of a problem on its way. It is going to affect each and every one of us and change our very way of life. People will have to start growing their own food, stores will have to be closer and more centralized in suburbs, and transportation will have to be reinvented. That problem is Peak Oil, or energy resource depletion.

Cheap oil is a finite, non-renewable energy source that accounts for 90 percent of the world's transportation energy and 40 percent of its commercial energy. Different studies have predicted different times for the global oil peak, ranging from "already peaked" to the wishful 2035. Several independent studies have been conducted, most notably Colin Campbell and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO). Their latest 2004 model suggests a peak of conventional oil in 2005, and all oil and gas liquids in 2008. The United States peaked in the 1970s and now produces less and less oil each year.

The consequences of inaction in the face of this global crisis are enormous. Geopolitics, lifestyle, agriculture, and economic stability are all at risk. As energy prices skyrocket in the coming years, the people of suburbia need to react by demanding their government work on solutions to this problem so they can prevent the collapse of their dream of living in a peaceful society or they will become the slums of tomorrow.

Our national leaders are not at all uninformed about this subject. Their solution is to stabilize and control the part of the world that contains two-thirds of the world's remaining oil supplies. Too bad that part of the world hates our guts. George Bush's desperate attempt to turn Iraq into a huge American police station in the Middle East is proving more expensive and difficult than he thought. Once we invade Iran, which we will, the result will exhaust and bankrupt us. We will be no match to China or India, both of which are growing at alarming rates and will soon surpass America economically and militarily. The New York Times has reported in the past couple of weeks that we may see a shift in economic power between China and America now that the dollar is declining.

Researching and implementing alternative energy sources will require decades of investment. Cheap energy is already on the decline, and we haven't begun to seriously consider a solution. Even if we started right now, it wouldn't be possible to gather the amount of energy we are used to from renewable sources. We will have to learn to live with far less than we are used to, and so will our children and grandchildren.

On March 16 the Senate voted by a razor-thin margin to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling by sneaking a measure into the budget bill. The huge issue of Peak Oil and climate change were ignored in this debate.

M. King Hubbert, a U.S. geologist working for Shell in the 1950s, was the first to predict that an oil peak would occur in 1970. His ideas, which were made public in 1956, were ignored by the oil industry. But it turns out he was right. Last month, the Department of Energy released a report that officially acknowledged this crisis for the first time.

So if you think the estimated $3 a gallon this summer is going to be bad, just wait until oil is on a steady decline in the coming years. Enjoy it while it's here, because it somebody doesn't do something about this crisis soon, we're all going to be experiencing problems much worse than inflating gas prices.