We can reduce the effect of future disruptions by reducing our dependence on oil, not putting up more
rigs and drilling our special places. The fact is, we cannot drill our way to oil independence.
Energy Risks: Dwindling Supply
We understand, intellectually, that petro-oil is a finite resource in any realistic sense. (Yes, more
is being made, but as it takes millions of years, and we have blown through a sizable fraction of all
known and postulated recoverable reserves in roughly a century, that rate of consumption is not
sustainable). However, our actions indicate that we have no such concept of our ability to exhaust
this precious resource. Instead, we are accelerating our rate of consumption, even as we know that the
easy, light oil is largely gone, and we are trying to supplement it with the less accessible and less
attractive sources (such as the Alberta Tar Sands, and increasingly deep and risky off-shore drilling).
Oil is a valuable resource, likely more valuable than we currently accept. It provides fuel with
astonishing energy density, and is easy to store and transport. Because we also price it cheaply,
we use it profligately in low-efficiency engines and systems, and with little or no regard for the
environmental and health consequences associated with its use (although we pay lip service to needing
to minimize the consequences in public relations gestures).
The intellectual debate about Peak Oil is over. Even figures from the U.S. establishment concede this.
Video of Dr. James Schlesinger at 2010 ASPO conference (11 minutes)
Even the International Energy Agency (IEA), long a proponent of long-term oil availability, has acknowledged
that we have passed the peak production of conventional oil.
2010 IEA World Energy Outlook Executive Summary.
Today, we recognize oil supply risk in terms of geopolitical power balance and price increases.
Tomorrow, we will understand oil supply vulnerability in terms of the very survival of our communities.
Credible experts suggest that we have just 10 to 20 years of affordable oil left. That may be unduly
optimistic. The time to prepare for the fundamental changes is now.