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Peak Oil: Start With Reality Pt 1


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Bear in mind the huge scale of the industry and the production infrastructure required. The vast bulk of production is coming from conventional oilfields, the majority of which are past peak and whose production is in decline. A consideration of the discoveries waiting to be developed and the timescale to put them into production reveals a significant gap, apparent even on close consideration of the work of the IEA, which masks this gap as production that will come from as yet unidentified, undiscovered fields. It is totally unrealistic to anticipate future discoveries on the scale required to fill this gap, given the historical record (especially this century) and the fact that most promising oil provinces have already been well explored and developed.


Optimism is almost always a better choice than doubt, but in most instances, it must be tempered by acknowledging realities. Facts can be both inconvenient and annoying when they conflict with a purposeful narrative, but ignoring them will not make them disappear.

It doesn't always produce a better story with a happier ending, but until we can only deal with fictions and completely disregard facts, reality tends to provide better long-term results. Fiction has its limits. When the issues are as challenging, complex, and fraught with the potential to disrupt so much of what we all take for granted on a daily basis, skirting facts to remain true to the fictional preference is almost never the wiser choice.

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Among the [should be] obvious realities of fossil fuel production is the most obvious: gas and oil are finite resources, and they weren't discovered last week. They also haven't been rationed over the many decades since first put into use, and a glance outside should tell most of us how much, how often, and in many ways we have made use of this astounding gift. Who wants their comfortable personal, cultural, and professional lives disrupted with thoughts that limitless abundance is neither limitless nor forever abundant?

Another reality is the fact that for all of its widespread utilization, there are still hundreds of millions of fellow inhabitants who have not made use of fossil fuel's countless benefits on a scale remotely close to what we've enjoyed. Doing so is certainly a long-term goal for most, but in the shorter-term, the desire to make use of those same resources for their own advancement should come as no surprise. That same recognition must be extended to the citizens of nations better known for exporting oil [e.g, those in the Middle East].

The citizens of those countries aren't content to sit by, watch the other nations of the world advance their societies by drawing away resources exported by the former, and not expect some of the advantages to create a more modern industrial and technologically-advanced society for themselves. Through it all ... a finite resource continues to supply the majority of the energy for all of this, depleting by the day, with substitutes suffering a variety of disadvantages and challenges rendering them unequal and inferior substitutes.

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The treadmill can work for only so much longer to keep up with the demands. Then what?

Should we continue to sit on our hands and wait for that moment so we can experience the reality of chaos, or would some prudent advance planning be a good idea right about now?

Adapted from a blog post of mine

 

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)
 

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