*This entry was originally posted: December 12, 2010*
It may seem like a futuristic event or an unfathomable occurrence to many people, but our way of life is coming to an end. We do not have infinite resources, or clean energy alternatives to our dependence on oil. We are running out of fossil fuels and are adjusting to this fact, right now, in your living room, while you read my blog.
There is a theory (not rocket science) that we all need to understand, first introduced to congress in 1974 by M. King Hubbert. It convinced President Carter to issue warnings about fossil fuel consumption and the need for alternative energies, but we didn’t listen then either. Today we call the theory “Hubbert’s peak,” or “peak oil,” and it refers to the point in time when the world’s oil production peaks. It looks very similar to what a standard bell curve would, and is pictured below (from: http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk):
The worldwide population has stayed fairly consistent throughout time. This is because our only source of energy was the sun. Before we tapped into fossil fuels the sun’s energy alone could never sustain a population of more than 500 million to 750 million people. During the Industrial revolution, the number of people on Earth roughly doubled, reaching 1 billion around 1950. The real spike started when we struck black gold.
As the production of oil has grown so has the population, to unsustainable numbers. The graph below shows the Earth’s population growth (Blue) along with the increase in oil production (Red):
There is an eerie likeness to them, which is because one of them is dependent on the other. Without that spike in oil production we could never have had such a meteoric rise in population. The problem we face now is that WE ARE AT THE TOP OF THE BELL CURVE. We will never again produce as much oil as we do right now.
What does it mean to be at this point of peak oil? It means that our production numbers will begin to slowly decrease at first, and then much more rapidly. As the holes in the ground begin to dry up, our consumption will be forced to decrease too. It means that resources will start to dwindle. It means that jobs will disappear. Economies will not recover. Governments will shut down. Riots will happen. Wars to control the last bit of remaining resources will break out. Refugees of these wars and of natural disasters will be ignored. Humanity will be forced to adjust.
What do we do about it? We do exactly what they are telling us not to do. We panic. We invest in botany classes, organic seeds, and first aid books. We learn to rotate crops and replenish the soil. We drink water from local streams instead of from Fiji. We give up our combustible engines, cell phones, airplanes, and commerce as we know it. We leave cities. We bond together as families and as small sustainable communities. We adapt… or we will die.
P.S. I suggest that you watch a documentary called “Collapse.” I saw it on Netflix.