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Peak Oil: Start With Reality Pt 7


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We have a problem with oil production now--not just here in the United States--and it is not going to get better. The cancellation of exploration and production projects does not occur in a parallel universe.... If production is being curtailed, that we have enough today to meet demand is not the beginning and end of supply concerns.

What about tomorrow? Next month? Three years from now if production and needed investments have not been ramped back up to levels of the recent past? What magical efforts can we expect if that's not the case? Finite resources continue to be drawn down; unconventional substitutes are still more difficult and expensive to extract; diminished investments won't spring back to life this afternoon, and projects suspended or canceled don't re-emerge just because someone asks....

Who wants to inform citizens in other nations that they aren't going to enjoy the benefits we lucky Americans have been for decades because there just isn't enough available, affordable fossil-fuel supply to meet current demand, or expectations for any increases? Who will volunteer to inform the citizens of oil-exporting nations that we wonderful and entitled Americans need their oil more than they do, so if they would be so kind as to slow down modernization efforts, we'd greatly appreciate it?

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Unfortunately for those who don't like hearing that kind of news, we Americans do not live in a protective consequence-free bubble. Billions of other people in less-developed nations are eagerly and diligently working to elevate the quality of their lives, and they all need energy to make that happen ... the same energy sources we use. More demand for shrinking supply = less for everyone, even we exceptional Americans. Higher prices are part of the ride. Reality.

Statements continue to be offered by those beholden to the oil industry that their view of reality is that oil will continue to be the primary energy source for decades to come. That's the problem, not the rebuttal! It is not that difficult to understand that a finite resource depleting by the day, with all of the factors and qualifiers and conditions and facts that come into play regarding both conventional crude oil and unconventional substitutes, is a resource that cannot maintain an affordable pace endlessly.

So doesn't that suggest advance planning would be a remarkably wise course to pursue starting right about now?

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A greater demand prompted by a greater numbers of end-users; a decrease in supply made available for export by nations keeping more for themselves; a demonstrated challenges, expenses, and disadvantages of inferior quality unconventionals; and the more of this wonderful but finite resource we continue to draw down without so much as a passing thought of how we're going to satisfy growth expectations given these realities, all suggest that the efforts to transition will be even more complex, difficult, and unsatisfying. Do we want to come to that realization too late in the game?

We ignore to our great dismay and detriment the future, which extends well beyond the short-term one we prefer focusing on. Ignoring facts for whatever reason and however the tactics are deployed to do so is an avoidable strategy.

There is no great catastrophe waiting in the wings next weekend; and we do not need to avoid the challenges to be faced out of fear or because we doubt our abilities to deal with them. But not dealing with them out of fear and doubt will lead to outcomes and impacts and sacrifices no one will be happy about--and that may be the best outcome we can expect if we decide we're going to wait just a few more years until we're certain about every fact and every potential impact.

What seems like a reasoned approach today to a problem not all that evident will be looked back upon as idiotic. Do we want to take that chance on something this important?

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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