An uncomfortable truth which nobody seems to want to face up to is that demand for energy is outstripping supply on a national and worldwide level.Year after year, the discovery of new oil fields has declined and the decline of the easy-to-access, low lying rich oil reserves has set in motion a frantic race for the filthiest, hard to extract and most geographically remote fossil fuel reserves, for example, within the Arctic Circle.
China’s and India’s race for industrialisation has now led us all down a desperate path to access previous dirty resources, such as the Canadian tar sands, in which is found a sludgy bitumen whose conversion to oil requires a destructive, energy-intensive and very costly process.
In order to reach these vast deposits, the industry is strip-mining untouched Boreal forests the size of England and guzzling one of the Earth’s largest watersheds, poisoning native communities and emitting three times more carbon emissions than conventional oil production methods. The planetary sized scars from this colossal industrial project can already be seen from space.
Unfortunately, the very fact that we are resorting to such measures is a good indicator that, as a civilisation, we are now beginning to scrape the proverbial oil barrel.
So were next for our modern civilisation?
Oil prices and, ultimately, overall energy prices, will continue to rise at a faster and faster pace, similar to the hockey stick graph, which shows rising CO2 levels. Reducing dependence on conventional fossil fuels must be a priority for everyone, as the cost of refining such hard to reach and dirtier sources of oil will undoubtedly push up prices for the consumer.
If you want to see an example of this, you only need to look as far as the North Sea platforms. The UK has enjoyed 30 years of plentiful, cheap fossil fuel energy with some people saying that we squandered this resource and its revenues; however production from these fields has been declining for many years now. These high energy costs we now see in our current bills are a reflection of that.
The problem of limited fuel resources, alongside increasing demand, is now spreading globally and will affect more and more people. Once-proud nations who had their own energy industries are now relying on imports. This is happening worldwide, and just like the drought-ridden watering holes on the African plains, this vital resource is getting smaller as more and more rely on it.
Some people might say that our demand for cheaper and cheaper goods means that we are going to shoot ourselves in the foot. However, we are already in this situation, and we all need to reduce dependence from the proverbial watering hole. This is commonly known as peak oil.
If not for environmental reasons, then certainly for lower domestic and commercial energy bills, we must be less reliant on oil. As the worldwide costs of oil extraction and refining increase, this will add even more to the costs of heating our homes.
"Feel the pride."
Stuart Lovatt on
Founder of Heat My Home.