I was alarmed to read that not just environmentalists but even the CEO’s of some oil companies (and their accountants and geologists) are saying the moment of “peak oil production” may occur in the next decade. Some say 2012, some say 2015. Somewhere in there, I guess. This is all a numbers game of course; and it doesn’t make much sense to even try to be that exact.
But the exactness is what scared me. Let’s see in 2012, if I am still up and kicking, I will be 66. I think that math is right.
So what’s to be alarmed about? “Peak oil production” doesn’t mean the end of oil; only that the production of it will peak and after that, well, it will start inexorably to go down and down. The result of course is that demand will far outstrip supply; especially now that the developing countries, like China, also want gas to fuel their new SUV’s.
The cost of gas will accordingly soar. Is ten bucks a gallon out of the question? I don’t think so. More worrisome is that the peak production will also affect the food supply. A hell of a lot of petroleum is used in the actually production of food (think: green house tomatoes), and then there is this business of how far food travels to get to our mouths. I keep hearing the figure that says the average travel of a piece of food from farm to the human mouth is about 1800 miles. I don’t know how you figure such a figure, and wonder if you took out of the average the number of miles your average coffee bean travels, if that number would not be reduced considerably.
So there I will be 66 or maybe 69 years old, if I am still up and kicking, and on a fixed income. I suspect I will have to severely curtail my car travel. OK, so I have a market not a mile off. I could walk there OK, I guess; possibly they will have shopping carts for sale. So I could buy and push one of my own to the market. And then when I get there who knows, there may be food shortages. Or the cost of food will be staggering. So I can push my cart back and forth with loads of beans and rice.
Some are predicting the come back of cities and the creation perhaps of “villages.” Take Manhattan. You can’t drive there anyway. So people walk and they can walk to get what they want, though it may take some time, because stuff is pretty close together. Imagine a Manhattan, around the time of the peak of oil production, maybe with no cars at all; people walking to get where they want to go or maybe riding solar powered scooters.
Some people predict the end of the suburbs. Think first of all the travel involved in getting from your suburb to your place of work or even to the market. Then think of your average free standing house—once representing the pinnacle of the American Dream—Your own free standing house! Why those things are ridiculously energy inefficient; all those windows every place and that damn lawn to keep up and all the lights.
I think those golden years were always just a myth to lead us on and make us think some rest was just around the corner. Well that’s not going to happen. There I will be pushing my beans and rice in my shopping cart as long as I can walk, that is, on my arthritic knees.
I hope I live to see it. But for my sanity, I should stop reading stuff about the future.