The Long Emergency

I hate to be all pessimistic about oil, but due to the articles and opinions I’ve read recently (i.e., within the last year) I’m starting to become a regular doomsayer. Today I read quite possibly the most well-explained and terrifying view of the coming oil shortage.

Long story short: China and India are using more oil than ever before while America’s thirst is never sated. At some point in the very near future (possibly as soon as 2007 or 2008) the world will reach its “peak oil production” which means that in one year it will output more oil than ever before. It also means that every subsequent year will show declines. The result could be mass chaos and a fundamental restructing of society, especially concerning consumerism, travel, and government.

The term “global oil-production peak” means that a turning point will come when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce in a given year and, after that, yearly production will inexorably decline. It is usually represented graphically in a bell curve. The peak is the top of the curve, the halfway point of the world’s all-time total endowment, meaning half the world’s oil will be left. That seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but there’s a big catch: It’s the half that is much more difficult to extract, far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and located mostly in places where the people hate us. A substantial amount of it will never be extracted.

The United States passed its own oil peak — about 11 million barrels a day — in 1970, and since then production has dropped steadily. In 2004 it ran just above 5 million barrels a day (we get a tad more from natural-gas condensates). Yet we consume roughly 20 million barrels a day now. That means we have to import about two-thirds of our oil, and the ratio will continue to worsen.

I won’t reprint the whole thing, but I highly encourage you to go take a look. Even Cal’s Veggie-powered bus will lie in ruins, and if it is somehow viable it probably won’t have any roads to drive on. In short, we’re fucked unless we all can’t wait to revert to an agrarian society in the Upper Midwest. Maybe I should just move back to Wisco and buy a farm.


4 thoughts on “The Long Emergency

  1. True fact: One of Katie’s friends said she learned to hunt “so that just in case we’re fucked, I know I can feed myself”.Guess that’s not a bad attitude if you turn out to be right.

Comments are closed.