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Page added on May 28, 2013

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Peak Oil: Game-Changer

General Ideas

An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Michel Desjardins:

We have become increasingly aware that there are fundamental constraints to ongoing economic expansion, that perpetual growth on a finite planet is a fool’s dream.
If Peak Oil is here – and there is solid evidence showing that it is – then it means we have begun to run up against the planet’s natural constraints. Mother Nature has begun to tell us that the party is over.
It’s an uncomfortable thought, but one that can no longer be ignored.
We can no longer assume that decades of economic and population growth based on ever-increasing rates of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption can continue….
Peak Oil is a problem like no other….
It is truly a game-changer….
Communities that are quick to recognize the problem stand a better chance of weathering the storm….
We need to find ways to dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuel energies, start promoting local agriculture, alternative methods of transportation and energy efficiency.
Bottom line: we need to build our community’s capacity to adapt to a very different world.

The article from which that quote was extracted is more than two years old, and was written by a Canadian. [The link may no longer be accessible.] I don’t recall that the author of that piece had any connection to the oil industry, but his assessment then was no less accurate. It has greater significance now.

There continues to be a great deal of hype about fracking and tight oil, with some now convinced that Peak Oil is “dead.” Of course, when your commentary about all of this increased production neglects to mention much, if anything, about the downside of this path to energy independence, it’s easy to dismiss reality.

There’s no doubt that the production increases from shale have caused a noteworthy surge in production. But that’s only half the story, although it’s clearly the happier side. What the cheerleaders fail to tell us time and again is that there’s an eye-opening rate of depletion in the tight oil fields. More rigs and wells are needed just to stay even, and none of them are free. In fact, they cost a great deal more than do conventional wells.

There are also solid indications about water contamination, not to mention the incredible amounts of water needed in the process to begin with. The integrity-free failure to disclose the chemical compounds used in fracking isn’t exactly a plus, either. Those are just a few of the annoying facts which tarnish all that happy talk.

And as is true of conventional crude production, most of the “good spots” have been found and tapped. More expense, more effort, and more risk is now the norm. That’s not a winning formula for continuing production increases. Losing money tends not to be a primary objective for most oil producers. When the losses start piling up and investors start backing away, it’s a bit of a challenge to maintain any decent levels of production.

And so the end result is that Peak Oil indeed remains a “game-changer.” The more of us who recognize this by slicing through the Happy Talk to understand the full story and not just the cherry-picked good parts, the sooner we can start the necessary discussions about what to do. Many of those important conversations and plans will have to occur at the local levels. The federal government will have a role to play, but we can’t turn the keys over to it and assume all will be well.

Crisis? Opportunity? I’m a fan of Option B.

peak oil matters



7 Comments on "Peak Oil: Game-Changer"

  1. J-Gav on Tue, 28th May 2013 12:22 pm 

    Time is of the essence. Windows of opportunity tend to slam shut if not utilized quickly. Transitioning rapidly towards a lower-consumption model of society will not prevent the coming crisis but it could make it less devastating.

  2. BillT on Tue, 28th May 2013 12:58 pm 

    We are skiing down Mount Everest and lost our guide poles. Our speed (consumption) is increasing while our ability to slow down (transition) is decreasing. Best we can hope for is a long run-out (gradual reduction) at the bottom and no cliffs or ledges in our way. I don’t think Mother Nature (resource limits/climate change) is going to allow a slow stop.

    All of these transition articles are nice fiction. A few thousand consumers out of a few billion is not going to turn the tide. Only a catastrophe will do it and it will hurt.

  3. Mack on Tue, 28th May 2013 5:02 pm 

    Third worlders hurt us with they increasing populations, we have choose to have 7 billion people with most living in poverty than a world of 2 billion living relatively confortable with more resources to spare.

  4. GregT on Tue, 28th May 2013 5:30 pm 

    “Communities that are quick to recognize the problem stand a better chance of weathering the storm….”

    And those that do not recognize the problem will bear the full force of the storm…….. What is your community planning to do?

    “We need to find ways to dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuel energies, start promoting local agriculture, alternative methods of transportation and energy efficiency.”

    We means you. Nobody else is going to do it for you. Move away from large population centres, get involved in local communities, learn how to grow your own food, and get into shape.

    “The federal government will have a role to play, but we can’t turn the keys over to it and assume all will be well.’

    The federal government is not going to save us from ourselves. Think Katrina, or Sandy, Nation Wide.

    How much time is left? 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20? Where will you be when the next oil price spike hits? Where will your food come from? Who is going to take care of you?

  5. econ101 on Tue, 28th May 2013 9:32 pm 

    Wow! This guy repeated almost every peak oil myth without stating one fact. it is a purly emotional piece and its based on incorrect information. Look at the following paragraph offered up by the articles author:

    “And as is true of conventional crude production, most of the “good spots” have been found and tapped. More expense, more effort, and more risk is now the norm. That’s not a winning formula for continuing production increases. Losing money tends not to be a primary objective for most oil producers. When the losses start piling up and investors start backing away, it’s a bit of a challenge to maintain any decent levels of production.”

    Most of the good spots havent been found and tapped, they just tripled the estimated inventory in the bakken.

    More expense, more effort and more risk are now the norm? There is far less risk with the almost complete absence of failed wells. The effort put forth gives us the bounty we are just begining to enjoy. Profits have never been higher. There are no losses piling up. It is a winning formula.

    The entire article is nonesense.

  6. J-Gav on Tue, 28th May 2013 9:37 pm 

    BillT – As you say, ‘transition’ certainly won’t turn the tide for the billions but might for some lucky few … regardless, the hurt will be there for everybody, but more prepared communities may fare better than those who have done nothing.

  7. BillT on Wed, 29th May 2013 3:00 am 

    J-Gav, only if they are surrounded by a high wall and a moat and have a military to protect them.

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