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Page added on November 8, 2013

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Why Peak Oil Might Matter.

General Ideas

Peak oil has never been a popular theory among market analysts. After all, the peak has been prophesied repeatedly, but still hasn’t come to pass. Time after time, new areas have been opened to development and new technologies have come to the fore, putting off the peak for another day.

Yet the specter of peak oil has had beneficial consequences. In recent years, fears of peak oil energized efforts to improve efficiency and promote alternatives. The threat of peak oil was conflated with the risk of dangerous climate change, encouraging more people to support policies that tackle greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these actions were valuable even if their impetus was unsound: greater efficiency and more abundant alternatives are largely good economic and security news, and smart climate policies are good for the environment.

So perhaps we should be at least a little worried that booming U.S. oil production, along with discoveries elsewhere in the world, seems to be killing off the peak oil narrative. Don’t get me wrong: better understanding of our energy predicament is generally a good thing. But it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that there are some troubling wrinkles here. In particular, I’ve recently heard more than one European analyst emphasize how important the specter of peak oil was in pushing Europe to diversify its energy supplies and improve its energy efficiency. But now, they say, the shale oil boom has helped kill that meme. The upshot, they fear, is that interest in climate and efficiency policies — some of which were foolish but many others of which were valuable — are weakening.

To be certain, Europe may be an outlier. The fear of peak oil was never as much of a policy driver in the United States. And Chinese efforts to improve efficiency seem to have been driven more by basic economic and security concerns. Still it’s worth keeping an eye out for changes in the offing. If the stories from Europe are accurate, they’re a useful reminder that the consequences of the U.S. oil boom will be felt in all sorts of odd ways.

CFR



5 Comments on "Why Peak Oil Might Matter."

  1. BillT on Fri, 8th Nov 2013 12:37 pm 

    NET oil is dropping. NET energy has been dropping for decades. The stuff they now call ‘oil’ is just a way to lie to the uneducated.

    The world economy is just another name for the world energy supply. Both stalled out during the last decade. Now the numbers are so fake they make the three headed man in the circus sideshow look real.

    But, denial is easier so….

  2. rockman on Fri, 8th Nov 2013 12:48 pm 

    Never ceases to amaze me how folks who try to minimize PO intentionally (IMHO) ignore the rise in the price of oil. It’s as if the production rate of oil on the planet is what’s really important and the fact that prices have risen about 400% in the last 10 years doesn’t even deserve a foot note.

    Joe6pack doesn’t care how much oil the world is producing. He cares about the cost to fill up his car. Despite the efforts to confuse the discussion it’s just that simple.

  3. mike on Fri, 8th Nov 2013 3:34 pm 

    Peak oil happened, bang on time and with the exact result predicted, economic collapse followed by bumpy decline. Guy sites yergin , therefore his argument is invalid

  4. shortonoil on Fri, 8th Nov 2013 4:51 pm 

    Conventional crude (API 30-45) hits its maximum production level in 2006. Even the EIA data supports this determination. This is the crude that has powered the world for the last century. The non-conventionals are substitutes; much lower quality substitutes. They act as a placebo to the energy consuming economies of the world. They are like the marble dust put into MikiDi milk shakes; they add weight, but no nutrition. This ignorance of the depletion of our primary, and absolutely essential energy supply will end badly. One thing worse than being in a bad situation, is to be in one, and not even know it!

  5. C. Paul Davis on Fri, 8th Nov 2013 8:05 pm 

    All:

    Repeat after me:

    Peak Oil has happened already with Conventional Oil.

    Peak oil hasn’t happened yet with Unconventional oil, but will in time and sooner than you think.

    That’s all you have to know.

    Paul

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