The Coming Energy Crisis or Peak Oil
"Fertilizer, DVDs, rubber, cheap flights, plastics and metals. None of these things have anything in common, right? Think again. An ingredient in all of them, in one form or another, is oil.
Oil is the precious primer of the world economic engine, making it hum. Oil provides 40% of the world's energy needs, and nearly 90% of all transportation. It's also a building block for many products and goods. Cut supplies of this natural resource and life as we know it could change.
But while some experts say the world runs no risk of running out of oil, others disagree. Sounding the alarm is the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas. Its president is Kjell Aleklett, a physics professor at Sweden's Upsalla University.
'[During] the next 30 years we will find more than 150, maybe 200, but probably not, but 150 billion barrels of oil is roughly what you're going to find,' Aleklett said. 'And during the same period, we will consume 1,000 [billion barrels of oil]. So that means we are now digging deep into the reserves we have at the moment.'
Aleklett is among a group of international experts - ex-oil executives and geologists - who believe there is less oil percolating under the ground than the oil industry acknowledges. They say the world has burned up nearly half of all its oil - an estimated 900 billion barrels of crude.
In industry jargon, that halfway point is the 'peak', after which reserves no longer rise but drop. No one denies this will happen eventually. After all, oil is a finite resource. But these oil skeptics - so-called 'peak' oil analysts - say the 'peak' is coming sooner rather than later, maybe even in 2008. They paint a gloomy picture: falling oil supplies plus rising demand will equal shortages - and perhaps a rising risk of war."