Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
Page added on February 14, 2017
[S]o we have this physical constraint that’s coming because of Peak Oil. There’s nothing we’re going to do about it. We can’t out-clever that. It’s just a constraint, it’s a limitation, there it is. We could manage it well or we can manage it poorly, but it’s there. We have a political system that’s not really geared for the magnitude of the change that we’re seeing, so the most likely outcome is that we’re going to wait, we as a culture are going to wait until we’re forced to deal with this. That’s probably going to come with disruptions….
At some point, we’re going to have to accept the facts for what they are and begin the long, complex, not-always-satisfactory process of planning for and then implementing change on a grand scale beyond our individual capacity to fully appreciate at this moment.
There can be no defined, clear timetable as to when this process must begin. But what must be understood today is that a finite resource drawn daily for more purposes by more people has some inherent limitations. Coupled with the daunting realization as to how much we depend on finite resources to conduct daily living, the process of transitioning away from that dependency to some still-undefined Plan B is going to be an undertaking to exceed all undertakings.
While the strategy of disseminating misleading and/or disingenuous statements has been a “successful” one–if measured by the degree in which keeping the public uninformed or at best confused about the facts is the standard. But what happens when the reality of peak oil’s challenges becomes obvious to them as well? Every day lost to the denial/misleading nonsense is one we cannot back when it will be needed most.
Since when has planning ahead become a four-letter phrase? [Not that planning ahead for a transition of this magnitude has a precedent.]
Without the steady supply of high quality, affordable, always-at-the-ready crude oil to provide the energy which makes possible almost every aspect of our personal, economic, and cultural lives, adaptation and transition to a Plan B primary source of energy to sustain us and supply our needs will be a nearly incomprehensible undertaking under the most ideal of circumstances.
If we do not begin the process of conducting honest discussions coupled with planning, what then?
While a defining characteristic of the conservative personality is the need for closure–satisfied by arriving at quick conclusions coupled with an inherent aversion to examining the full range of issues and perspectives on most matters–acknowledging that trait is a far cry from accepting it as the end of a discussion. The steady flow of statements uttered as if they were factual conclusions [among the more noteworthy examples are the repeated references to the “trillions of barrels of oil” yet to be extracted, with not a word of explanation as to why we’ll never have most of it] is but one confirmation of extensive research conducted on the behaviors and characteristics of both conservatives and liberals.
It certainly keeps the deniers focused on their cheat sheet of Happy Talk messages [whose prime objective is to disclose only certain facts favorable to their interests], while keeping them untroubled about consequences. No need to worry about any ambiguities when you can rattle off a few snarky comments to show off to loyal followers as the beginning and end of the debate–such as it is.
The inference they hope others will draw is that since the availability of oil has not come to a crashing halt today, nor has the world economy collapsed into itself as a result of the pro-peak oil arguments, proponents obviously don’t know what they are talking about. Nice to be able to get away with it, but the facts remain unbowed by those determined efforts to mislead.
Not one moment’s worth of effort on the part of those denying or disputing the fossil-fuel-production challenges we’ll soon be facing changes the reality that we will soon be facing fossil-fuel-production challenges.
When dealing with a finite anything depended upon by literally billions of governments, industries, and individuals in countless ways on a daily basis–a finite supply with no adequate, long-term substitute currently in place–the simple skills of subtraction and division tell us that there will be a reckoning at some point.
Peak oil’s impact will in all likelihood be a gradual one given the expected production from resources still realistically available. But with a resource this widely-used by as many individuals and entities as it is now and has been for decades, and with so many others waiting for their chance to modernize on the back of fossil-fuel resources, those same math skills make it clear that the reckoning caused by supply disruptions–gradual or not–will not be pleasant.
We have some options left, but we need those casting doubt to start paying attention to all of the facts and how all of those facts will play out over time. That’s not their preferred approach, but it’s the only one offering all of us opportunities to deal with the reality of a depleting, finite resource.
Adapted from a blog post of mine