Are We Ignoring Peak Oil?

Below are some excerpts from an article by Richard Heinberg describing peak oil and how prepared the US is for the inevitable decline in oil production.

Link: George W. Bush and Peak Oil | EnergyBulletin.net | Peak Oil News Clearinghouse.

  • Peak Oil is foreseeable.
  • The consequences are also foreseeable and are likely to be ruinous.
  • The Bush administration has been repeatedly warned.
  • Actions could be taken to reduce the impact, but the longer those actions are delayed, the worse the impact will be.
  • The administration, rather than taking steps to mitigate these looming catastrophic impacts, has instead done things that can only worsen them.

Peak Oil—the point at which the rate of global production of petroleum begins its inevitable historic decline—is a subject of growing public interest. The basic concept is derived from experience: during the past century-and-a-half all older oil wells have been observed to peak and decline in output. The same has been noted with entire oilfields, and with the collective oil endowment of whole nations. Indeed, most oil-producing nations have already seen their output enter terminal decline. Few informed observers doubt that the rate of oil production for the world in total will reach a maximum at some point and then slowly wane.

In short, the science behind Peak Oil is well established, and, while there is some disagreement about exactly when the global peak will arrive, there can be no excuse at this stage for ignoring the problem.

In sum, while it is impossible to say whether Mr. Bush understands Peak Oil, no one could credibly argue that that he simply hasn’t heard about it.

In fact, it would be no exaggeration to view Peak Oil as potentially representing the economic, social, and political impact of a hundred Katrinas. And that impact will not subside in a few days’ or years’ time: once global oil production has peaked, the energy shortfalls for transportation and agriculture will be ongoing, relentless, and cumulative.

Our automobiles could be made much more fuel-efficient, though this will require government leadership via higher CAFE standards. But over the long term automobiles and trucks simply aren’t good options for transportation, given their inherent energy inefficiency. Thus the nation will need a much-expanded freight and passenger rail system. Our cities, most of which have been designed for the automobile, need to be made more neighborhood-oriented and walkable, and provided with light-rail transit systems. Meanwhile agricultural production must be freed, as quickly and completely as possible, from fossil-fuel inputs. All of these efforts will require substantial investment and many years of work.

In his 2006 State of the Union address, Bush said that the U.S. is “addicted to oil,” and put forward the goal of reducing oil imports from the Middle East. The next day his staff backpedaled, saying that this goal was only an “example.”24

Five years into the Bush administration, the nation is more dependent on imported oil than ever before. It is facing an impending energy crisis that a government-funded study says will be “unprecedented” in scope and consequences. And needed preparation efforts are nowhere to be seen.