Peak Oil News: What�s peak oil? It�s time to learn

Friday, October 28, 2005

What�s peak oil? It�s time to learn

PortlandTribune.com

By Robert Pace

Peak oil is an important concept, from the local level to globally, but few know the term. That will change.

In a broad international sense, the term “peak oil” signifies a time when the finite amount of crude oil is unable to meet the growing demands of our world economy.

In other words, it’s the end of cheap energy.

Peak oil affected U.S. domestic crude discoveries around 1971. That’s why we are so dependent on foreign sources. Access to those sources makes up the balance of our nation’s energy needs.

Some people believe “peak oil” soon will become a household term, while others think it’s a few years before it’s commonly understood. Still others claim a date even further out. Industry officials are all over the board about its timing. Regardless, it’s for real and will affect everyone probably sooner than later.

For instance, look at the current price of gas and ask yourself, “Why does it cost so much to fill up a gas tank?” Later this year, you may be saying something similar about heating your home. This is what happens when demand exceeds known reserves of anything.

Just as the conversion from the agricultural age to the industrial age had an impact on how our nation developed, peak oil likewise will be a huge factor in how our communities and governmental agencies do business in the future.

The advent of peak oil doesn’t mean we will run out of oil anytime soon. It does mean, though, that the possibility of finding large new reserves is unlikely. Our current reserves, still untapped, are minuscule in comparison to the daily per barrel usage of our international economy.

The term “peak oil” also may help you understand why the United States and other nations have a vested interest in maintaining access to Middle Eastern oil. The largest reserves of crude can be found there, and access to them is a strategic part of our economic system.

As long as we maintain our current levels of energy consumption and have no viable and price-comparable energy alternatives in place, the United States will require unimpeded access to the Middle East’s oil fields as well as to the natural gas fields north of Afghanistan.

Some people project that because of peak oil we will see a return to denser inner-city populations across the nation. It is economically advantageous and practical to move goods into central locations rather than trying to cover larger areas with many long-distance deliveries. Just about everything we touch had to be moved here by a truck or train. And those forms of transportation rely on oil for fuel.

Has the city you live in been increasing its housing density? Ever wonder why inner-city property is becoming so expensive? I recommend the movie “The End of Suburbia,” about how the American economy became more suburban-based and how the face of suburban life may look after the peak oil age becomes a reality.

At this point, I want to make our communities aware of the term “peak oil.” Preparation will help us transition into what will become known as the Peak Oil Age.


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