Monday, February 23, 2009

Past Peak Oil

For anyone interested, the Oil Drum has a great post today about non-OPEC member nations being past peak oil production. From the statistics it appears that non-OPEC nations reached peak back in 2004 in regards to oil.

What does that mean? For most people, the only concern this will bring to mind is the utterly unsustainable oil price of $40 a barrel. If production declines even moderately, say 2-3% a year, the price will once again shoot-up. Maybe not immediately to the peaks we recently experienced, but give it some time and we will see oil prices much higher this go around. Even with the current economic crisis, oil demand is not falling at 2-3% a year, so we have a situation where demand will be far out pacing supply, leading not only to higher prices, but to shortages ala the 1970's, only this time we won't get over the oil shocks.

How can people prepare for this inevitable future? First, as a nation, we can stop building suburbs and start concentrating on refurbishing existing towns along New Urbanist guidelines while building the transportation and alternative energy infrastructure needed to help make the transition to a world with less oil. People that live in urban areas consume less energy and produce less carbon emissions according to an article over at City Journal (thanks to CarFree USA Blog for finding the article) Thats only part of the solution. As individuals, one of the fastest ways to lower personal energy consumption is to stop driving. I know that our current living arrangements in America don't always allow for this to be a reality, but no other behavioral change will do more to reduce energy consumption and save people money. For other ideas on what can be done, check out the book Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change by Pat Murphy and anything by James Howard Kunstler is also a great source of information.

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