Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Prepare: No Peak Oil

Sometimes I think of something to write about that I know is going to make a fuss around here. Peak Oil. Peak Oil is what I call the Green Survivalist buzz word of the decade. Peak Oil is a new chapter in the world of preppers and survivalists as the PO crowd now joins the rest of us preparing for what may be the worse just around the corner.

Here is the deal: Peak Oil is the concept that the world has discovered, extracted and used all the cheap oil easily available based upon our current demand. That in the past few years, we have hit the Peak - oil available both in and out of the ground vs. the world's growing thirst for the stuff.

And, if we have hit Peak Oil, as its adherents say, then we are on a downward slope as a civilization as our entire world is based upon cheap, readily available oil. Not only for fueling vehicles, but for fertilizers, plastics, heating oil and powering stuff like coal mining which also produces energy.

What's worse say the Peak Oilers, is our demand is not going down or even flat lining - its going up. Look at India and China; they want cars and cheap energy too.

And like our concern with pandemics, nuclear war, and financial collapse, the PO crowd thinks their collapse will happen just as fast as in, one day, there will be no oil. The lines will start at the gas stations, the trucks will stop running and the power will go off everywhere. Hold on there...

Here's my beef with Peak Oil and I welcome any comments and debate - just keep it civil.

First, we have not drilled everywhere. There are lots of places all over the world which are not hard to get to, but are deemed hands off by regulations. My bet is when push comes to shove, .gov is going to push and shove those rules aside if they need the juice and there is a source off the coast of California or Florida. Agree or disagree?

Next, we base demand on current numbers which, as of last year, showed a deficit. But cheap oil is based upon lots of cheap cash to buy that oil with. Right now we have a recession on. Demand has fallen and prices have dropped in half since last year. Demand drops and supply goes up and the Peak gets pushed back a few more years. Yes or no?

Further, demand is based upon now. I don't think China is going to build an electric crane anytime soon. If they want to build the worlds largest bridge, dam or skyscraper, they will use 1000 diesel cranes which use a gallon a second. Who is going to question them?

But in much of the rest of the world, the demand is for better fuel efficiency from vehicles. Demand will go down as more and more people (and governments) push for vehicles which require less fuel which means - lower demand. Another curve ball for the Peak of Oil.

Also, people adapt. If gasoline hits $5.00 a gallon, people will start walking, riding bikes, driving more fuel efficient cars, taking mass transit. They move closer to work or school. We saw that last year, yes or no?

We have not seen any mass lines for gasoline yet, only price spikes which are often due to demands on a fragile system of delivery, not available oil in the ground. A revolution in Nigeria. A storm in the Gulf Coast. A fire at a refinery. These the the problems which have led to higher prices in the past few years, not a shortage of crude in the ground. True?

For that matter, let's consider where so much oil comes from: OPEC. A cartel (read government run monopoly) which limits supply to keep the price high. Who knows actually how much oil they have which they are not revealing for fear it will further drive the price down. Right or wrong?

Changing gears...

Regarding Peak Oil followers who are in to prepping, I only have good things to say - well sort of.

PO's believe in paying down debt in the event a cheap oil financed economy collapses. I am there with them.

PO's believe in alternate energy for the house. Amen, bring on the solar panels and windmill.

PO's believe in having alternate transportation like a good bike. Love bikes, I am there too.

PO's believe in home gardening, buy and eat local foods. Preaching to the congregation here. Bring it on!

PO's believe in living closer to the city center, near mass transportation like publicly financed bus and train lines.

Bzzzt! That changes everything. You can't build a self sufficient life, grow your own food, power your own house and live in the city and expect your "less fortunate neighbors" now doing without cheap gas and heat to smile at your planning and go quietly into the night. Your little nest will get overrun and the invaders will travel on that nice train right outside your front door.

That is my problem with Peak Oilers. It almost sounds like they long for an urban life with everyone crammed into the cities, cars banned and everyone contentedly growing bean sprouts for dinner in the front yard.

You may be a Peak Oiler and say, "None of this applies to me. I think the age of Peak Oil is coming, but it will be gradual and we need to rethink our systems as gas prices creep higher". Fine, but most of what I read online from the Peak Oil crowd sounds like what I have presented.

My Peak Oil post is a rant. Please feel free to chime in, but keep it civil. I would like to hear your opinion so keep it rational.

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