Does Peak Oil exist?
I’m still searching for the answer to the (other) big question:
Does Peak Oil exist?
If I’m going to try and convince others within my community to make plans for an alternative future without oil, I need to be really sure myself.
If I was to make up an answer using my own logic I would say: Yes. Why not? Because, after all, the whole world isn’t filled with oil, it’s only found in little pockets, right? It is a limited resource.
The chap who first came up with the theory was very good at maths. He did a lot of research, statistics analysis and some pretty serious thinking before he came up with this curve. Not to be confused with oil depletion, M. King Hubert created this model in 1956 to predict that between 1965 and 1970 the United States would reach peak oil production. He was correct.
Quite frankly, I wish they’d stop finding more.
No, I don’t want the world to spiral into some sort of economic nightmare but I wouldn’t mind if it made people think twice about using their car, myself included. I drive a Toyota Dinosaur (the grandad edition). A diesel, which, despite its age and size is surprisingly economic to run. Mostly because we tend to drive like grandads- or, to use the correct terminology, we use hyper-miling techniques- correctly inflated tyres, careful acceleration and deceleration etc. Or we don’t use it at all and take the bus/bike/feet. But for me to arrive at the decision of using alternative means of transportation I’ve usually thought more than twice- it’s taken a whole week of planning!
But that’s just us. If you were to glance out onto our street on any one occasion you’d see that more than half the cars parked there were 4WDs. This would lead you to believe that outside of our street, the roads are unpaved. (After the recent earthquake, you wouldn’t be far wrong, but that’s not the point!) There has been only two occasions in my life when I have thought about owning a four-wheel-drive. Once, in 1992 after The Big Snow declared a day off for all Christchurch citizens when our streets became unpassable unless you had a 4WD, and the other time when my wee stationwagon got stuck up to its gumboots in mud and I had to be towed out by a Landrover. (I wasn’t thinking clearly on this occasion, obviously). Of the 4WDs parked on my street, very few of them appear to have ever gone ‘off road’- so what’s it all about? Are these folk all advocates of Climate Change and Peak Oil awareness working on the theory that the sooner it’s all used up, the sooner we can do something else?
The problem is, of course, that it’s not just for cars that we seek more and more oil. Almost every aspect of our modern lives has developed since the discovery of oil. We can do without plastic, we could do without a lot of cosmetics and we really could go back to using old methods of manufacturing; in New Zealand we really could eat locally and seasonally produced food and not really ‘go without’. But what about medication? What about technology? Late night discussions have come up with reasonable theories on how to produce enough gas to cook on, but my shiny new computer is made from questionable materials and it has definitely accumulated a few miles in getting here- I can’t do without it! And seriously, I don’t think we can fix it or upgrade it using number 8 wire!
I know this is a good news website, and I seem to be painting a pretty dark picture here. But, it’s not all doom and gloom. What I imagine is a very positive future, a time when folk slow down and take time to do things that are worth while; when we relearn the skills that were cast aside in the last two generations. Wind the clock back 20 or 30 years- cars were fewer, we all knew our neighbours (and traded with them over the fence) and photo albums were filled with images of kids all wearing the same jersey, year after year. There was nothing wrong with that!