Thursday, November 12, 2009

The End of the Line

The International Energy Agency, a worldwide organization that is utilized by many governments to help guide their energy and climate policies, has knowingly overstated global oil reserves in order to prevent an economic panic. According to this Guardian article, two whistleblowers have come forward and claimed that the U.S. has pressured the IEA to understate the declining rates of existing oil fields and to exaggerate finds of new sources of oil. If true, the ramifications of this are simply huge. Our assumption of continual, neverending growth (based on ever-expanding rates of oil being pumped out of the ground) for the global economy is wrong. Our assumption that we can simply transition to fantastical so-called "alternative" renewable sources of fuel (and hence, neat inventions like cars that run on hydrogen or electricity) is wrong.

The one source says that we are already in the "peak oil zone". If this is true, and we are about to see declining rates of oil production, it could truly well be the end of the line for industrial civilization.

*Something interesting I happened upon on giving the article a second glance, and after I finished writing the intial blog post: in the IEA's World Energy Outlook, which many countries use to set their energy policies, the estimation of barrels per day in the year 2030 has steadily declined. In 2005, it was 120 million barrels a day. Then, it was 116 million. Last year, it was 105. There are strong feelings that even revising them further downward (to around 90 to 95 million barrels a day) is too optimistic at this point, but even this is not being contemplated due to worries of panic inflicting the financial markets.

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