John Dillin, writting for the The Christian Science Monitor, asks:
How soon will world's oil supplies peak?:
The question provokes hot debate among experts, as concerns rise that America isn't prepared for a dropoff.
WASHINGTON – If world crude-oil production hits its peak and then falls within the next five to 10 years, would America be ready? The answer is, almost certainly not.
A debate unlike anything seen since the oil embargoes of the 1970s has erupted over the future of world petroleum supplies. A chorus of experts claims that the peak in production may be approaching, and that the impact of a peak and subsequent dropoff would be devastating to the world's economies. Others insist that moment is still distant.
Over at Orion Magazine Bill McKibben discusses Peak Oil:
Mad Max Meets American Gothic: Is there a friendlier option for the post-peak future?
Can you feel the mood shifting? I can. A year of spiking speculation about peak oil and the death of suburbia has rattled lots of Americans. Plenty of people suddenly feel that real, civilization-shaking change might be around the next corner. And plenty of them also feel frozen in the headlights, unsure what, if anything, to do about it. Other than wait.
It reminds me a little of the very early days in the fight over global warming. Appalled at the forecasts of global destruction, some of us demanded immediate and strong action--high taxes on carbon emissions, for instance, and never mind the pain. Others -- more moderate or more politically realistic -- advocated a suite of what they called "no regrets" policies. They suggested, say, gradual rises in gas mileage, higher efficiency standards for appliances. Even if climate change proved to be overblown hooey, they pointed out, such rational and easy measures would still save us money, reduce conventional pollution, and so on. These steps were like taking out a modest amount of insurance; whatever happened we'd have no regrets about having adopted them.
In actual fact, of course, we took neither the urgent nor the more relaxed steps. Instead we bought Ford Explorers. Now everything that was frozen is melting and soon we will have ... regrets.
Amanda Griscom Little, writing for Grist Magazine and posted at Alternet, interviews Matthew Simmons about energy supply and peak oil: Twilight of the Oil Age:
Peak-oil provocateur and energy insider Matthew Simmons is staking his entire career on his prediction that the world is running out of oil.
Matthew Simmons has been stirring up a lot of angst in energy circles this year. This well-connected industry insider has concluded that some of the world's largest oil beds may be on the verge of production collapse -- and he's willing to bet his much-vaunted career on it.
Author of the recently published Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, Simmons is founder of Simmons & Company International, an investment bank that handles mergers and acquisitions among energy companies, and counts among its clients Halliburton, General Electric, and the World Bank. A graduate of the Harvard Business School, he served as an energy-policy adviser to the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign.
Let's start with a brief overview of the premise and implications of Twilight.
I believe we are either at or very close to peak oil. If I'm right, then we have to assume that five or 10 years from now we'll be producing less oil than we are today. And yet we have a society that is expecting, under the most conservative assumptions, that oil usage will grow by at least 30 to 50 percent over the next 25 years. In other words, we would end up with only 70 percent of the oil we have today when we would need to have 150 percent. It's a problem of staggering economic proportions -- far greater than the temporary setback of a terrorist attack on energy infrastructure -- that could end up leading to more geopolitical fistfights than you can ever imagine. The fistfights turn into weapon fights and give way to a very ugly society.
And again, over at Alternet, Jan Friel discusses the slowly emerging awareness of peak oil amongst certain conservatives. Neocons Driving Priuses:
The prospect of peak oil has shaken some of the mainstays of the conservative establishment into doing something about America's energy crises.
The United States holds 2 percent of world oil reserves, contributes 8 percent of world oil production, and consumes 25 percent of the world's oil production -- more than 60 percent of which is imported. Such facts appear with increasing frequency in mainstream newspapers and on television talk shows, often accompanied by handwringing about lack of sustainability and allegations that the chase after foreign oil is the primary cause of our military misadventures in the Middle East.
"The question is this: how do you create a politics that inspires the American people? How do you address their strongest concerns and values? We think addressing the jobs and health crisis of the Midwest -- while demanding that the auto industry be held accountable on fuel economy -- is the right way forward."
Will it take a hard winter and $5-a-gallon gas for the appearance of an opposition to the status quo, or graver energy crises or shortages that threaten social order? Let's hope the emergence of wider political coalitions to deal with energy independence happens before we find out the hard way.