Peak Oil News: Peak Oil: Suburbia's looming fire-sale

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Peak Oil: Suburbia's looming fire-sale


One of the reasons a great many people, policy makers and leaders find it impossible to face the issue of peak oil is because it challenges the very beliefs that we argue are a priori truths about industrialised western societies, without requirement for justification, our fundamental birth-rights.

These beliefs, that the society our children will inherit will somehow be richer, more open and peaceful and economically more prosperous. That technology and coming generations will solve the collective global problems we face. We truly believe in the fallacy of endless substitution. That we will discover and liberate energy sources cheaper and more productive as existing ones run out. In New Zealand many of us favour leaving such issues to the market to sort out. After all, the stone-age didn't end because we ran out of stone.

An acute understanding of the fundamentals of energy and its intrinsic relationship with society instructs us differently however. The post-globalist, post-cheap-oil age will seriously challenge our deeply seated assumptions. We don't have to run out of oil for life to be up-ended. We merely need to experience a supply squeeze and a reasonable price spike for all the mechanisms that support our modern life to be seriously destabilised. This situation is quickly approaching. The world is currently experiencing growth in oil use that is stretching available supply to the absolute limit. This is occurring when the global production of oil is about to move over its all time peak, after which it will be in permanent and increasing decline.


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