By Robert Trask
Just as there has been grueling debate over whether or not global warming is taking place, there has been an equal amount of debate over how much oil is left. In a sense it really seems counter-intuitive to quibble over how much oil is left as it is a finite resource. The debate ought to be, and is becoming more about, how we are going to cope with the increasing demand on a dwindling resource.
When I posit that the argument over how much oil remains locked in increasingly demanding geographic locales is counter-intuitive, and counter-productive I mean that it doesn’t really matter how much is left. Global demand for petroleum is increasing at a nearly exponential rate while accessible oil is declining at a proportional rate. To spend time and energy on debating how much longer we have left to guzzle fuel is spending energy on a pointless argument. Our focus should be on minimizing our consumption and finding alternatives.
We are in an age of change. Life as we know it is going to be very different in the coming years. Fortunately we are also in a time of innovation and forward thinking. The acceptance of the final reality that we cannot go on living the way we have is sinking in and we are becoming increasingly proactive in the search for solutions.
The present reality is that we can no longer continue to be the consumptive society that we have become. The cruel irony in this is that many of the products that we have become accustomed to are derived from petroleum. This means that wholesale change is in order, not just a little “pain at the pump”. The question now is how painful does it have to get before this wholesale change takes place? History reveals that humans won’t really do anything until it is a crisis. From my perspective I clearly see the crisis looming on the horizon.
To answer the “when? question – all available science (which is sound) tells us that peak oil will happen sometime around 2020.