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!

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