Monday, 17 February 2014

Peak Oil, Energy Decent and The Fate Of Consumerism

This Paper is a bit on the heavy side but I still found it to be thought provoking.  I really wonder where we will end up if the oil suddenly dries up, something tells me things would get a lot worse before they got better. But maybe we are better than that.

Here is a bit of an introduction.

Western style consumer  lifestyles  are  highly  resource  and  energy  intensive.  This  paper  examines  the  energy  intensity  of  these  consumer  lifestyles  and  considers  whether  such lifestyles  could  be  sustained  in  a  future  with  declining  energy  supplies  and  much  higher energy   prices.   The   rise   of   consumer   societies   since the   industrial   revolution   has   only been  possible  due  to  the  abundant  supply  of  cheap  fossil  fuels  –  most  notably,  oil  –  and the  persistence   of  consumer   societies  depend  upon  continued   supply,   for   reasons   that will   be   explained.   But   recently   there   has   been   growing   concern   that   the   world   is  reaching,  or  has  already  reached,  its  peak  in  oil  production,  despite  demand  for  oil  still  expected   to  grow   considerably.  Put  more   directly,  many  analysts   believe   that  demand  for  oil  is  very  soon  expected   to  outstrip  supply,  with  a  recent  study  by   the  US  military  reporting  that,  globally,  spare  productive  capacity  could  entirely  dry  up  by  2012  and  by  2015  demand  for  oil  could  outstrip  supply  by  almost  10  million  barrels  per  day.

What  this  means  –  even  allowing  for  some  uncertainty  in  timing  and  extent  –  is  that  the  world  is  soon   to   face  a  situation  where  economic  and  geopolitical  competition  escalates  over  access   to   increasingly   scarce   oil   supplies.   One   consequence   of   this  (a   consequence  already   playing   out)   is   that   oil   will   get   more   expensive.   Since   oil   is   the   ultimate  foundation   of  industrial   economies,   when  it   gets  more   expensive,   all   commodities   get  more   expensive,  and   this   dynamic   will   have  pervasive   implications   on   the   globalised  economy  and  the  high  consumption  lifestyles  that  fully  depend  on  that  economy.  This   paper  reviews   the  current  energy   supply   situation   and  considers   the   fate   of  consumer  lifestyles  in  the  context  of  an  imminent  stagnation  and  eventual  decline  in  oil supplies.

To read the rest of the paper click here.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't read through the report due to time constraints though maybe I'll come back to it one day. My understanding is that yes, we are going to see huge rises in costs but that our greatest issue is Climate change. Therefore maybe a rise in prices is the best thing that could happen. Maybe people will pull their heads in and reduce consumption (though I doubt it!).


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