Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WUW - The Downward Slope

I'd like to assume that you all have heard about the concept of Peak Oil, but I know better. Since it is a bit complicated and many great minds before me have done a better job than I have at explaining it, I'll direct you to a few. Now, go read these two PO primers and report back here.

(insert Jeopardy theme or other appropriate waiting muzak here)

You back? Good, just a little more to read...

Now you know the basic gist of the problem is that the supply of oil on this planet is relatively (within short geological time frames) finite and that our ability to get at that oil is limited by how easy it is to reach and by how many new sources we find each year, and that our demand for that oil grows more and more every year. So, basically you have an increasing demand and a decreasing supply. What happens when supply goes down and demand goes up? Prices rise, higher and higher as the gap widens, right? Eventually, it is no longer economically feasible to even be in the oil business as you have to price it out of the reach of the consumer.

Peak Oil is the beginning of the end of the Age of Oil. The question is not whether it will happen that we no longer rely on oil, but when and how that will play out. The issue is so complex, I don't think anyone can say for sure how this is going to go. But it has the potential to be tricky, to say the least. Personally, I welcome the end of oil dependency. But I don't relish the potential tough times ahead as we make the switchover. I am fortunate enough to be an upper-middle class citizen of a wealthy nation, and I expect that my family will weather the storms ahead pretty well. But I have friends and family who are barely keeping their heads above water financially, and I worry about them when the price of oil drives the cost of food and medicine and winter heat/summer AC beyond their reach. Let's not even get into the poor nations of this world (not today anyway).

I don't think most people realize how much of our world is made out of or using the energy from oil. This does not mean there aren't non oil based alternatives. Just that they are scarce and therefore dear, fiscally speaking. This is changing, thank God. The question now is whether it is changing fast enough.

See you Sunday for a rundown on the steps ahead!

1 comment:

Jan Zeiger said...

Would love for you to join Orlando Area Unschoolers..