The end of oil is closer than you think
The 59th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker

Amsterdam, May 25 2005

Dear reader,

The war in Iraq, a possible nuclear war between the USA and North-Korea or Iran, the millions of children dying because they lack adequate medical care, the growing chance on an pandemic caused  by HIV-Aids or Bird Flu or the coming wars because of shortage of water are threatening the world.
But when in some years oil becomes very scarce the situation will be desperate.

My friend, the Dutch geologist Tom de Booy (http://www.egoproject.nl), writes about oil. Just click on his site on the blue sentence: Update 10th of May 2005 under the header “What is New”.
I give you some interesting quotations. For more information read the whole article and see the graphs. A picture often says more than a thousands words.

A striking sentence is: The political elite's, especially in the US , are incapable of dealing with the situation.

Many geologists expect that 2005 will be the last year of the cheap-oil bonanza, while estimates coming out the oil industry indicate “a seemingly unbridgeable supply-demand gap opening up after 2007”,  which will lead to major fuel shortages and increasingly severe blackouts beginning around 2008-2012. The long-term ramifications of Peak Oil on your way of life are nothing short of mind blowing. As we slide down the down slope of the global oil production curve, we may find ourselves slipping into what some scientists are calling a "post-industrial Stone Age".

Even the ultra-conservative Swiss financiers are worrying about the coming world oil crisis. They asked the retired English Petroleum geologist Colin Campbell about the shortage of world energy resources. "Don't worry about oil running out; it won't for many years," the Oxford PhD told the bankers. "The issue is the long downward slope that opens on the other side of peak production. Oil and gas dominate our lives, and their decline will change the world in radical and unpredictable ways". If he is correct, global oil production can be expected to decline steadily at about 2-3% a year, the cost of everything will rise, from travel, heating, agriculture, trade to anything made of plastic. And the scramble to control oil resources intensifies. As one US analyst said this week: ”Just kiss your lifestyle goodbye”.

Mike Heinberg wrote a book The Party's over. Oil, War and the Fate of industrial Societies: "If the US continues with its current policies, the next decades will be marked by war, economic collapse, and environmental catastrophe. Resource depletion and population pressures are about to catch up with us, and no one is prepared. The political elite's, especially in the US , are incapable of dealing with the situation”.

The fact that oil discoveries peaked in the nineteen sixties is today an accepted knowledge, but that natural gas discoveries peaked in the seventies is for the majority a well hidden secret.  We are consuming more than we are finding. This is devastating for the USA and it will also effect Europe . The declining rate in discovery of conversional natural gas will within the next ten years dramatically lower the production within the region.

What about alternative sources of energy? The market won't signal energy companies to begin aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy until oil reaches $100-$250 a barrel. Once they begin pursuing these alternatives, there will be a 25-to-50 year time lag between the initial research and their wide-scale industrial implementation.
Alternatives to oil are dependent on oil. They are more accurately described as "derivatives of oil". It takes massive amounts of oil to locate and mine raw materials (silver, copper, platinum, uranium, etc.) necessary to build solar panels, windmills and nuclear power plants. It takes even more oil to distribute these alternatives and to adapt and maintain the current infrastructure.

To make electricity required to electrolyse water to get hydrogen vast amounts of fossil fuel are needed. To make enough hydrogen to replace one gallon of gasoline the equivalent of six gallons of gasoline is needed. This solution therefore turns out to be a non-solution.

In recent years, the debate over nuclear power has revived and to judge from the tremendous rally in the price of uranium the market has concluded that nuclear power is firmly back on the political agenda. Nuclear power would facilitate compliance with the Kyoto Treaty but its replacement potential for oil is limited. To produce enough nuclear power to equal the power derived from fossil fuels, would entail production of 10,000 of the largest possible nuclear power plants, according to Goodstein. "That's a huge, probably nonviable initiative, and at that burn rate our known reserves of uranium would last only for 10 or 20 years."

After De Booy’s trip around the world in 1999 he published a letter on his website www.egoproject.nl  with the following sentence of which I do not want to change a syllable:
"My feeling is that we are - in our so-called western civilized world - all sitting in a train that is driving with an exponentially accelerating speed towards a brick wall. Unfortunately there is no driver on the train who can stop the train before smacking into the wall. Jumping out this train means suicide. I do not see a way to lead the train to another track and avoid disaster. All this is very frustrating. The only thing left over is to describe the process of the geological extinction of this planet earth".

I, Joost van Steenis, still see some possibilities. On my site I propose to make powerful people conscious they are walking the wrong path by intruding in the private life of people who have the power to decide.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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60. Dutch-French mass revolt
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