A new dark age in our times – A peak oil special
“How long would take our governments to react to the catastrophe which could wipe out millions of billions of lives and see an end to our modern civilisation.”
If the ‘global warming’ issue is anything to go by, then probably never. With 40 years of advanced scientific knowledge, the biggest problem facing humanity is still swept under the rug even today.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we now see the world’s governments now undertaking in public denial about peak oil too. Peak oil is the point at which high demand for oil, outstrips supply and like a ‘must have’ toy at Christmas, scarcity and substantial price hikes will be the norm.
No politician can or will take responsibility for the misery that such an event will cause. Market forces in a global market will see winners and losers towards the end of the great oil age.
As predictions of a needed increase in “oil production” from 84 million barrels a day in 2011 to 97 in 2035. The shortfall is obvious. The black gold, like real gold will become unaffordable for general use with huge shortages commonplace as the competing superpowers of the world begin to see it as a commodity worth holding on to, rather than selling it to others.
Many within the oil industries now say we have already reached this crucial point of no-return. Increased demands from the newer economies of the Far East and South America will undoubtedly drive the modern world to a dark age conclusion.
The gradual rise in industrial-scaled oil use since the beginning of the industrial and the successive population growth was based on oil’s abundance and affordability. The inevitable decline past the ‘peak point’ will be gradual just like we are seeing at the moment with year on year prices rises.
The point at which we become vulnerable as a country and as individuals is when large suppliers like Saudi Arabia struggles to produce the necessary higher volumes which we continue to demand or simply decide to direct the majority of their remaining oil Eastward for a higher price.
As our governments are only just beginning to come to terms with this ‘national security’ issue, the only answers they currently have is to explore for more oil in increasingly harder to reach places such as tar sands which can only ever be a sticking plaster remedy.
Shale gas isn’t all it’s fracked up to be
Fracking is unfortunately a misplaced optimism, which is distracting efforts to solve the real problem of an oil based civilisation. With newspaper headlines such as: “The United States will outstrip Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer by 2017” you may be forgiven for thinking that our peak oil troubles are over.
As outputs from existing oil fields are already dropping globally, and flat-lining production, it is claimed, it can be bridged by fracking or shale gas extraction!
Using the sticking plaster analogy again, shale gas can only ever be a short-term fix because production from current well’s drop by as much as 90 percent in their first year of production. This swift decline makes shale gas appear unprofitable to investors.
The current American glut in shale gas should be a warning shot across the bow of other countries like the United Kingdom also thinking that shale gas can solve their energy problems. The CEOs of many of America’s largest energy companies are now beginning to crunch the numbers and they are saying that, they would have to discover almost 1000 new wells per year to keep production just at a flat rate.
This is a big money investment running at approximately 10 or 12 billion dollars just to replace the existing first generation supply. This means the shale gas dream is unsustainable economically and geologically. Financially, we will begin to see an ‘economic peak oil’ as the costs of supplying our most vital of resources begins to exceed the price that the world economies can afford to pay without disrupting economic daily life.
We are already beginning to see people priced out of domestic heating because of ‘fuel poverty’. The new buzzword for 2013 will be ‘transport poverty’ when people simply can no longer afford to run the family car and more and more people will become victims of unaffordable energy.
These are just the beginnings of a very thin wedge, as our civilisation, starved of cheap abundant oil supplies we are accustomed too, becomes inaccessible by pricing people out of the market, but yet again our political leaders dilly dally with the biggest issues facing our species.
As a new ‘dark age’ descends over the modern age and like the ‘global warming’ debate it will take many years to agree that it even exists and too late when confirmation has been reached.
When it comes to politicians even acknowledging humanities biggest issues, then how long is a piece of string?
"Feel the pride."Stuart Lovatt November 20, 2012
Founder of Heat My Home.