June 5, 2006
Reacting to Peak Oil
On Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in Illahee's Oil, Water and Oregon symposium.
The first keynote address was from Roger Bezdek, who along with Robert L. Hirsch, authored a key analysis of global oil supply.
Bezdek is of the opinion that the only realistic way to replace declining petroleum production will be with other 'liquid fuels', things like oil from shale or tar sands, or coal liquefaction.
While I hope that we can do better than that, moving to more renewable sources, the other part of Bezdek's message that really struck home for me is that to replace petrolium as an energy source, even with a crash program, we need to start 20 years before petroleum production peaks, in order to avoid serious economic disruption. Since the most optimistic estimate is that production will peak not later than 2025 (and the most pessimistic say it happened late last year), there is great urgency to start now.
Bezdek's analysis looks at how long it will take to ramp up production, and issues like the huge investment in today's vehicle fleet, which will take decades to turn over completely.
Whatever you think the solutions are, there are no instant fixes, and we need to get moving!
June 5, 2006 10:20 AM
However we adjust to peak oil, we must use the opportunity to reduce, or better eliminate, fossil carbon pollution, aka greenhouse gases.
Peak oil is a huge issue. It is only topped by global warming as a threat of possibly dire magnitude. The two issues are related. Fossil fuels have enabled us to jettison millions of years of carbon accumulation from deep in the earth back into the atmosphere within about 100 years.
This is not a sustainable activity. A possible outcome from its continuation is extermination of many species, including our own.
The time for action is now. Waiting for studies and options is not any more viable than it would have been for New Orleans to endlessly consider its pre-Katrina situation. As New Orleans so well proved - shit happens.
It is hopeful that one so articulate as Al Gore is addressing this issue in his new movie and other venues. It is not so hopeful if his efforts are dismissed as quickly as were Michael Moore's.
June 14, 2006 10:51 PM
Predictions that we need 20 years of ramped-up research, development, and massive investment to keep our society from being clobbered by Peak Oil are essentially the same as saying that we are going to be clobbered -- period.
1. We don't have 20 years -- 5 maybe, none maybe.
2. The current power structure has no interest in a massive reorientation of investment coupled with an equally-massive effort to get Americans out of their cars and motorized recreation.
3. The current Congress is so far from prepared to take the necessary steps, that we need a minimum of 3 or 4 elections cycles to get a Congress that will even debate the necessary steps, assuming that we could overcome the financial advantage of the entrenched powers.
So, when experts say "We can do it, if...", they are telling us somewhat subtly that we are up the polluted tributary because it ain't gonna happen.