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Peak Oil’s Impact: U.S. Olympic Training Centers

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Imagine, if you can, that there is a resource everyone likes to use.  They like to use it for convenience: it lets them go places, have neat things, eat the foods they want no matter what time of year it is….
Now imagine, if you can, that this resource begins to become scarce. Imagine that the world could not discover any new supplies of this resource, nor could they produce it any faster. Imagine this was because the ‘easy’ supplies had already been used, and now the more difficult to reach supplies were economically disadvantageous to access… What would happen to the supply of this resource? It would dwindle. And what would happen to all the items that were made from it? They would rise in price. And what would happen if the resource became so scarce that not everyone could have it? How would people react? [1]

How indeed?

While it would be so much easier and better if we only had to imagine this scenario, Reality is telling us a different story—magical technology and bazillions of barrels of shale oil and tar sands underground notwithstanding. Likely consequences are certainly unpleasant, enduring, and far-reaching—all the more so if we aren’t planning to do much about it in advance, as seems clear.

Given that there are almost no aspects of everyday living and producing which are not dependent in large or small part on the ready availability of affordable, high-quality conventional crude oil, Peak Oil will leave few aspects of life-as-we-know-it untouched. It’s all the more important we recognize that the various “Plan B” substitutes/alternatives don’t provide us with the same combination of energy efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and supply. Changes in all that we do, use, own, make, transport, etc., etc., are inevitable.

A little foresight will go a long way. A lot more foresight would be better.

With that in mind, here’s the latest contribution to my Peak Oil’s Impact series—observations and commentary on how Peak Oil’s influence will be felt in little, never-give-it-thought, day-to-day aspects of the conventional crude oil-based Life As We’ve Known It. A little food for thought….

One of the great cultural and athletic events on this planet is soon upon us: The Olympic Games are about to begin.

More than 200 nations will participate in over 300 sporting events, involving an estimated 10,500 athletes, and who knows how many hundreds of thousands (millions, more likely) of others lending their assistance and expertise to prepare the athletes for the world’s biggest sporting spectacle.

U.S. Training Facilities

Our own Olympic and Paralympic athletes enjoy the benefits of three separate campuses, located in Colorado Springs, CO; Lake Placid, NY, and Chula Vista, CA. In addition, there is an Education Center in Michigan and five other training sites. The Wikipedia site indicates that some athletes live at these sites for “months or years” while other athletes attend the sites for a variety of services offered (e.g., a sports science and sports medicine center, a broad array of training facilities, and a dining hall and two residence halls). Let’s not forget that “Over 15 other member organizations, as well as two international sports federations, and the USOC headquarters are located nearby in Colorado Springs.”

That’s a lot of people and a lot of athletes doing a lot of traveling from a lot of different places on a lot of occasions using a lot of resources for a lot of months in preparation for the Games.

Planning and staffing and supplying these training facilities for our athletes is no mean feat. Years of effort are required by countless thousands to put the structures into place to prepare our athletes for this incredible commitment and effort.

A Small Dose Of Fossil Fuel Reality

For all the recent unbound optimism that fracking is our Great Energy Savior, facts suggest that the billions in shale oil reserves are not quite the be-all and end-all of our energy concerns. Producing a few million barrels of day (in time) is a whole lot better than not, but when factoring in depletion rates on the current, higher-quality, more efficient, affordable, easier-accessible conventional crude oil supplies we’ve been milking for more than a century (did I mention that these are finite resources?), it’s not quite as encouraging as petroleum industry shills would have us believe.

And so again the questions arise: what happens when the crude oil we’ve grown so accustomed to having available as and when needed at acceptable prices is … not? What happens when all of us have to make do with less? What happens when our crude oil-dependent lifestyles are forced to adapt in all kinds of ways to lifestyles without  the same measure of that most fundamental of resources?

Assigning Priorities

Does maintenance of our Olympic training facilities carry a higher priority than your and your family’s and your neighbors day-to-day needs? Local physicians? Dentists? Fire safety? Trash collection? School bus service? The list grows long, quickly.

How high a priority will travel to and from our magnificent Olympic Training Centers have in a future where we simply do not have the quality and quantity of energy supplies at the ready—in no small part because the leaders we otherwise depend on are doing almost noting to educate us and prepare us for that too-soon future?

Back in February, in discussing the myriad efforts and resources and planning and what-nots associated with the National Football League’s Championship game, I asked this: What if there was no Super Bowl game?

What I wondered in that Super Bowl post is no less relevant now: What if we didn’t have enough energy resources to staff and supply our Olympic Training Centers? What if athletes couldn’t affordably and/or practically get there?

What happens when the mind-boggling efforts in planning, preparing, transporting, supplying, delivering, etc., etc. needed … by countless thousands of individuals and merchants and organizations … are simply no longer feasible because every single entity up and down the supply and service chain is faced with the reality of insufficient availability of ‘affordable’, quality, energy supply…?
How many economic dominoes tumble as a result? How many businesses lose out? How many employees?

I suppose there would be some limited, selfish acceptance if these issues and concerns were limited to those Olympic athletes and related personnel. Reality suggests the consequences of Peak Oil might be a bit more expansive than that.

Adaptations and sacrifices loom, even if they aren’t about to be forced upon us this year or next or even the couple thereafter. Who cares when? We’re using more and more of a finite resource every day, one whose substitutes simply don’t match its affordability and efficiency (among other attributes).

Why aren’t we starting the long and complex process of planning and adaptation now? Do all but the delusional think we’ll be able to just switch over to Something Else with no effort and no consequence?

Peak Oil Matters

One Comment on "Peak Oil’s Impact: U.S. Olympic Training Centers"

  1. Kenz300 on Thu, 26th Jul 2012 6:55 pm 

    The oil and coal companies love it when oil prices spike. They make huge windfall profits.

    The oil companies are doing all they can to reduce any competition to oil. They even fight energy efficiency measures.

    A monopoly is only good for the monopoly and not good for the consumer. It is time to end the oil monopoly on transportation fuels. Bring on the electric, flex-fuel, hybrid, CNG, LNG and hydrogen fueled vehicles. Competition is good for the consumer and the economy.

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