Amazingly, no one knows with any reasonable degree of certainty how much oil is left in the world. We rely on Exxon and the Saudis to tell us how much Exxon and the Saudis have. Talk about the foxes guarding the henhouse. Twenty years ago, this seemed unimportant, as everyone agreed there was more oil than the world needed at that time. But today, the world is approaching what geologists call “peak oil”, the point at which daily demand will exceed supply. When this happens – say hello to $100 barrel oil – and up.
A sharply increasing number of mainstream geologists, energy investors, and corporations think this could happen soon, in the next few years. Former oil industry employee Jeremy Leggett predicts peak oil around 2013. With recent discussion of peak oil by 2020 at the International Energy Forum – the world’s largest gathering of energy ministers, peak oil concerns are bound to play a major role in shaping energy decisions in the near future. Because it will be such an important driver, its critical that environmentalists engage in this debate and find ways to frame it that guide us towards a clean energy future, and away from options like clean coal and nuclear.
Not knowing the amount of such an important commodity in the global commons is unacceptable. There should be independent, international verification of reserves estimates made by countries and companies.
Finally, a little edgy humor from a peak oil site we like:
The Five Stages of Peak Oil
DENIAL — Driving from suburbia to your downtown job every day in your Chevy Tahoe.
ANGER — “%$@^##& Exxon!, gouging me at the pump. I demand you lower your prices or I will boycott you!”
BARGAINING — “The Chinese need to stop using so much oil. My, they’re burning six million barrels every day.” “We need to get corn farmers to make more ethanol, a 5 % blend would really help.” “Maybe we can invade Iran and take control of their oil reserves.”
DEPRESSION — “Oh God, civilization as we know it is going to be destroyed. What are we going to do without oil? How can farmers possibly grow any food? Think about the big box retail industry! Oh the calamity!”
- ACCEPTANCE — “You know what, my ten minute commute by bicycle is far nicer than my hour long commute from my old place.”