ACL / Techtrend


Peak Oil: One-Track Minds

2015-06-24 21:14

One could argue that the most dangerous push in our energy/environment discussion is that which seeks to stop/limit oil production and/or divest from oil companies. That’s because our primary fuel has nowhere near a significant substitute. As such, publicly-traded oil companies are the lone bastion between us and a complete reliance on OPEC. [1]

Well … sure, I guess one could argue that … “Big Oil: Leaping Tall Buildings … for Truth, Justice, and the American Way….”

One could also argue this: given that oil is a finite resource becoming increasingly more challenging and expensive to locate and produce—among other inconvenient truths—perhaps we might urge industry and elected leaders to … you know … think about the future in terms other than “let’s maximize oil revenues and our bank accounts today.”

Pursuing the one-track approach to our energy supply today and tomorrow has its advantages, at least for some. But for all the horn-tooting about human ingenuity from industry cheerleaders, there’s not much of a contribution from within to look past the bottom line and apply that ingenuity to alternative future energy needs.

Fossil fuel supply will be even more problematical in the years ahead. Ignoring that factor is a strategy, of course. It sucks, but it’s a strategy—just not a consequence-free one.

Oil companies are warning there will be a price to pay — a much higher price — for all the cost cutting being done today to cope with the collapse in the crude market. Big projects intended to start pumping oil and natural gas 5 to 10 years from now are being canceled or put on hold as the price crash forced $114 billion in spending cuts on the industry.
Energy giants from Exxon Mobil Corp. to Royal Dutch Shell say they’re taking a much more cautious approach to approving projects that cost billions and take years to complete. That’s setting the table for a future oil-price shock when a growing world population drives higher demand, said oil executives and financiers [at a recent energy conference]. [2]

Keeping the foot to the pedal might be the preferred approach today, but that trip will end badly for more than just investors and oil industry executives.

No one on this side of the peak oil debate is denying that demand continues to grow and/or that citizens in less-developed nations shouldn’t do all they can to improve their standards of living and quality of life. We also recognize how absolutely vital fossil fuels have been to our own progress and how deeply-imbedded the fossil fuel industry has been and continues to be in powering human society.

It’s a statement of both the reality and the problem. All of the chest-thumping won’t change the fact that fossil fuels are finite resources no longer as readily available or easy/inexpensive to produce as in days gone by. Deluding oneself into thinking that somehow and someway magical thinking will ride to the rescue just in the nick of time won’t alter that reality. Shocking, but true. Facts suck.

A more-reasoned and wiser consideration of facts and our future might not be the preferred strategy of the few, but the many will surely benefit more from a broader, reality-based assessment of life now and what we’d all like it to be in the years to come. Fossil fuels will continue to play a critical role, but that one-way road will come to an unpleasant end long before we’re prepared for it if we all continue to be taken for that ride.

peak oil matters