Thursday, April 10, 2008

Peak oil? Consider it solved

'In January, Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch/Shell, e-mailed his staff that the world will peak in conventional oil and gas within the decade. He wrote: "Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand." It used to be unheard of for oil executives to talk about limits to oil production. ' Several other oil company executives are saying the same thing. This is a serious problem because in Transportation governments must take action twenty years before the oil crisis in order to have the transportation system survive the crisis, so says a U.S. Department of Energy study. 'Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary.'

To solve the peak oil crisis it isn't sufficient to find more liquid fossil fuels. The problem is bigger than a simple question of supplies. The fuller problem also includes environment and climate change problems, to be specific if we do not take drastic action right away the sea's will rise because of arctic ice melting into the ocean.

We must be wise enough to break our mutual oil addiction. If we solve for the immediate problem, the oil supply issue which will occur once the world passes the oil peak, the other problems will remain unsolved. We will still continue to use fuels which spew climate changing poisons into the environment causing increasing temperatures around the world, causing rising sea levels, and causing untold numbers of diseases in all life on the planet.

To be sure there are ways to extend the availability of liquid fossil fuels. Techniques exist to increase output from oil wells. They exist to convert coal into oil.

Greater efficiency can help a lot. In history every increase in fuel efficiency has required government action, either taxes or mandates. In todays environment of politicians striving to practice free trade and to unfetter corporations from the shackles of regulations this may be a non-starter, but history really has shown that corporations do not do things like this unless they have no other choice.

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