A pessimist believes there is no hope while an optimist thinks everything will turn out all right. A person of hope, however, tries to solve problems with the faith that his/her actions will create a better future.
Peak oil means that we're extracting oil at the highest rate we will ever achieve. After peak, the rate of production falls even though there's still a lot of oil left. That's when the problems begin because our entire economy is designed to function properly only when oil supplies are increasing.
A lot of people are depending on technology to come up with alternatives to oil: biofuels, hydrogen, tar sands, switch grass, wind, solar and the like. However, these resources cannot make up for the huge demand for oil.
For example, Americans currently consume 19.5 million barrels of oil per day while the rest of the world consumes 85 million barrels.
It is important to note that peak oil doesn't mean we will be without oil. There is still a lot in the ground. What it means is that we are running out of cheap oil.
The oil we have been using over the past 150 years is the easiest to pump out and it's called "light sweet crude" for that reason. You just dig a well and the oil gushes out. That's why it is so cheap.
A land-based drill goes down into the earth 300 to 800 feet and costs $1 to $15 million depending on the well's depth and difficulty. Compare that to deepwater rigs that cost between $200,000 to $400,000 per day with a single well costing $100 million.
Heinberg says that about a third of U.S. oil comes from off-shore drilling.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has shown how very risky offshore drilling is. Birds, marine life and the tourist and fishing industries on the coast near Louisiana have been devastated. Meanwhile, the media and politicians have glossed over the fact that the Gulf of Mexico has almost 4,000 rigs operating under the same set of loose safety and regulatory requirements and enforcements as the Deepwater Horizon.
What are the chances of another spill? In June another occurred, this one southeast of the Mississippi Delta, before the first one had been stopped!
Many people think biofuels will save us but they evoke some uncomfortable dilemmas. Land for biofuels would compete for space with land for growing food. Secondly, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it gives. Finally, using land to grow fuel for our cars creates a moral and ethical problem when we consider that in 2008 there were riots in 20 countries because of food shortages.
In the 1930s, America used to supply half of the world's oil, said Heinberg. However, the U.S. rate of production peaked in 1970. Now we import 65 percent of the 19.5 million barrels of petroleum that we consume each day.