Problems With "Peak Oil"
For many years we have been hearing about the collapse of fossil fuel based civilization due to increasing shortages and economic crisis. This is the "peak oil" scenario propagated with varying degrees of alarm in books and documentaries. We are told our industrial economy is doomed and it is time to plant kale, lots of it! The assumptions about depleted fields and reduced rate of new reservoir discovery were published every year by the Energy Information Administration, the research arm of the Energy Department. These scientists and forecasters are consistently wrong and in 2005 they predicted total US liquid output would decline to 8.8 million barrels. Instead it increased to 12.1 million, an increase of 38%. They are doing this through new technology which allows them to squeeze more from reservoirs that were long considered inaccessible- too far underground, or offshore or encased in solid rock or gooey sand. "Today, what appeared irreversible is being reversed" write pro development energy analysts, gleefully."Here in the Western Hemisphere!" The key thing here is profitability. At the right price they will go after the last drop and because Americans have been sold on "energy independence" and "balanced portfolios" they will pay the price. (We know that price can never reflect cost to the future or ecosystems but that is another day...) This is a problem for initiatives like Transition Town which rely on the shortage/crisis scare to motivate people to "reduce and re-use" and transition to sustainability. Capitalism has once again shown that flexible ability to defer a looming contradiction, this time by squeezing oil and gas in ways not previously imagined. "All that is solid melts into air" refers also to this masking, postponing, obfuscating quality. Of course by burning fossil fuels we destroy people and places, in fact life as we know it, but this is secondary to jobs and security and and bustling malls at Christmas. And Hey,it won't happen to us. So who gives a rat's ass about "Transition"? And Transition won't say anything about capitalism so they can only watch with frustration as they once again get out-flanked.