The peak oil theory has been making inroads into mainstream media for some time, albeit at a glacial pace. Checking the news over lunch, I stumbled across this story from CNN:
At some point in the near future, worldwide oil production will peak, then decline rapidly, causing depression-like conditions or even the starvation of billions across the globe.
That’s the worst-case scenario for subscribers to the “peak oil” theory, who generally believe oil production has either topped out or will do so in the next couple of years.
When the peak oil theory has made the news in the past, it was normally a tar & feather job designed to make proponents looking like whack jobs. This story takes a more-balanced look at things while trying to stay agnostic. As usual, the anti-PO experts quoted in the story rip into the theory by saying there’s plenty of oil out there and that peak oil is “fear-mongering, sensationalist crap.” There is plenty of oil still available, but that’s missing the central point.
Peak oil is not about the world running out of oil anytime soon. It has much more to do with reaching a point where we are unable to produce that oil at a faster rate. World oil demand continues to grow, and it will be held back by only a few things, including supply limitations and pricing. The global economy hums along due to the ample availability of cheap oil. If that oil is expensive or hard to get (or both), there will be major economic ramifications. That’s what I’m worried about, especially since most of my clothing, household goods and an increasing amount of food is either shipping in from far away or processed in an energy-intensive way. If the price of oil goes up, so will the price of most everything else. A global recession or depression may not be the end of the world, but I recall my grandparents indicating that the Great Depression wasn’t the happiest time in their lives.
CNN’s story does butcher the URL for Life After the Oil Crash for some reason, and I’m curious as to why that particular site was picked as representative of the peak oil community. It gets a lot of hits every day, I’m sure, but so do more neutral sites like Energy Bulletin or The Oil Drum. I visit LATOC ever-so-often, and there’s a lot of good information there, but it’s also very ‘doomer’ in it’s bias. Whether that site was picked intentionally to skew the story or not, I don’t know. It’s interesting nonetheless.