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Peak Oil: Now Is A Good Time To Get Serious (Part 2)

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If nothing else, we'll need to recognize that, like climate change, Peak Oil is not some event looming on a distant horizon. Peak Oil is happening now.

We must guard against the notion that Peak Oil's impact (like climate change) is just a one-time, cataclysmic episode "scheduled" to happen but only at some random time at an indefinite point sometime long into the future. That thinking suggest we can put off dealing with it until "later." Given the load each of us is carrying around daily, putting off other matters which don't appear to be all that urgent until "later" sounds good!

Conventional crude oil production peaked a decade ago. The short-term bump from tight oil production in recent years changed the totals for a brief period, but the main issue is unchanged. That's the reality, glossed over as it tends to be.

Media and industry spin may alter the perceptions of reality, but the efforts won't change the reality. The effect and impact of Peak Oil are already here! It's not just about barrels of production totals. It's what happens to a modern society powered by a finite fossil fuel resource drawn down every day to provide energy for a nearly-infinite number of needs, products, and demands.

The B team [tight oil produced from shale formations via "fracking"] cannot match what conventional crude oil has provided all of us for more than a century. We're now cruising along atop a somewhat steady (?) plateau of crude oil supply while feverish exploration continues, but a finite resource is still finite.

And inferior substitutes with their assorted financial and production challenges are still inferior substitutes. Those financial and production challenges are unmoved by ideologies and beliefs formed from tenuous connections to the realities.

The fact that peak oil's impact won't be obvious to all but the most rigidly delusional by next week, or next month, or next year, or for several years thereafter won't alter the fact that what has powered modern society over these many decades will not be as available, affordable, or plentiful to power modern society in the years ahead. If we're all waiting for a one-time collapse, then we've got a long wait ahead.

All the supply and demand factors which contribute to the slide down the other side of that peak in production rate are now in place. So if the treadmill is keeping status quo for now or for a couple of additional years, we cannot afford to fool ourselves nor let others attempt to do so.

Even the most casual thought about how much, how often, and for how many purposes we depend on this finite resource in countless ways each and every day for each and every one of us should be enough to awaken us all to the fact that the supply of a finite resource has by definition a built-in limitation, and "endless" isn't part of the conversation.

Tweaking one aspect of our own lifestyles or the needs of industry and government and commerce and transportation to adjust a wee bit to an ever-diminishing resource won't cut it. We shouldn't expect [or fear] a mass transition from fossil fuel-powered existence today to a non-fossil fuel-powered existence tomorrow. But we won't have the luxury of picking and choosing what sacrifices and restrictions we'll tolerate, either. An overhaul of how we've powered ourselves to this point in history is going to take a bit more than the efforts of a few for a few weeks ... a lot more.

That may not be anyone's preferred message, but the sooner we recognize the truth, the sooner we get to work on the adaptations we'll be obliged to make soon enough. Better it's a choice made freely in advance than a compulsory one a day too late.

[Adapted from my blog]
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