Sep 182010


“The U.S. was warned in 2005. Its own Department of Energy commissioned a report by Robert Hirsch to examine peak oil and its potential consequences to the US. The introduction stated:

“The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.”

The main conclusions reached by the experts who worked on this report were:

1.    World oil peaking is going to happen, and will likely be abrupt. World production of conventional oil will reach a maximum and decline thereafter.
2.    Oil peaking will adversely affect global economies, particularly the U.S. Over the past century the U.S. economy has been shaped by the availability of low-cost oil. The economic loss to the United States could be measured on a trillion-dollar scale. Aggressive fuel efficiency and substitute fuel production could provide substantial mitigation.
3.    The problem is liquid fuels for transportation. The lifetimes of transportation equipment are measured in decades. Rapid changeover in transportation equipment is inherently impossible. Motor vehicles, aircraft, trains, and ships (and ferries) have no ready alternative to liquid fuels.
4.    Mitigation efforts will require substantial time. Waiting until production peaks would leave the world with a liquid fuel deficit for 20 years. Initiating a crash program 10 years before peaking leaves a liquid fuels shortfall of a decade. Initiating a crash program 20 years before peaking could avoid a world liquid fuels shortfall.
5.    It is a matter of risk management. The peaking of world oil production is a classic risk management problem. Mitigation efforts earlier than required may be premature, if peaking is long delayed. On the other hand, if peaking is soon, failure to initiate mitigation could be extremely damaging.
6.    Economic upheaval is not inevitable. Without mitigation, the peaking of world oil production will cause major economic upheaval. Given enough lead-time, the problems are soluble with existing technologies. New technologies will help, but on a longer time scale.
The Hirsch Report clearly laid out the problem. It urged immediate action on multiple fronts. It is now 5 years later and absolutely nothing has been done. In the meantime, it has become abundantly clear that worldwide oil production peaked between 2005 and 2010. The Hirsch Report concluded we needed to begin preparing 20 years before peak oil in order to avoid chaos. We are now faced with the worst case scenario.”


  3 Responses to “We’re Doing Nothing About Peak Oil”

  1. Just watched ” The Age of Stupid” with Pete Postlethwaite, excellent presentation on peak oil, global warming and the problems ahead . Should be mandatory viewing starting in the middle schools.

  2. One of the problems with addressing peak oil is there is no alternative and unless the laws of physics change there won’t be one. All of the so-called alternative energy sources and alternative transportation designs are thinly disguised frauds intended to harvest subsidies from a clueless federal government. If oil doubles then food prices will double. When oil is gone then 2/3rds of the food will go with it. The world population is on the verge of 7 billion and it is likely that in a world without oil we couldn’t support even 1/3rd that. So when you talk about preparing for peak oil you either have to talk in doublespeak or speak the truth and scare the bejesus out of everyone. There is no alternative to cheap energy, there never will be at least not an alternative that will support billons and allow for democracies to exist. You are literally talking about the end of the world as we know it. The good news is it won’t happen suddenly (unless Russia and China see an opportunity) and it won’t happen soon. It will happen gradually and you still have a few years to eat drink and be merry.

  3. From one of my e-mags
    Fossil Fuels Will Remain Top Dogs In Energy Mix For Decades
    Montreal — While environmentalists increasingly call for renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuels, a meeting of world energy leaders heard Monday that the oil age isn’t going away any time soon.

    Oilsands Output Will Be Increasingly Vital As World Demand Spikes: Yergin
    Montreal — As global energy demand continues its dramatic rise on the backs of emerging economies, Canada’s oilsands will play an increasingly important role even as the shift to a low carbon future plays out, says a leading energy expert.

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