The fall of industrial civilization will not be pretty. Looking for a culprit, many claim we are running out of oil. The "we are running out" line is old news. It's a classic bait line by deniers that has no merit. No one is saying that we are running out.
There are two things we have to understand: availability and net energy. Oil has become, and will forever continue to be, more energy intensive to extract and refine as well as more expensive to do so. There is a distinction here that must be made. We are out of the easy-and-cheap-to-extract "conventional" oil. Global conventional oil production peaked in 2005. This is why we see shale plays, tar sands, fracking, and deep offshore rigs being employed at great cost. The oil story is exceedingly complex. It is not about running out of oil at all.
In a 2014 paper for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, David Murphy, an energy expert at St. Lawrence University, says:
For every barrel of energy invested in global oil production, 17 are now extracted and turned into wealth. 100 years ago, one barrel of investment yielded 100 barrels more, a cornucopia that built the global economy.
Murphy also warns that the implications of diminishing returns for oil are stark: the more society invests in unconventional sources, the more "growth will become harder to achieve and come at an increasingly higher financial, energetic, and environmental cost.” He writes that this indicates that “we should expect the economic growth rates of the next 100 years to look nothing like those of the last 100 years.”
Maybe the deniers can answer how we will continue the way of life we've become accustomed to without a resource that no other resource can come anywhere close to touching in terms of EROEI (energy return on energy invested) without saying anything like "technology which doesn't exist yet will magically be found and implemented in time."
Basing current and short-term future actions on a longshot "maybe" isn't really the way we should be doing things. We can't just continue along humming merrily and say "well gee I hope something comes along that can save us." That's not a strategy. It is unacceptable to proffer that "hope" to the people of the world. We must face the situation soberly, without denial.
The future is going to be far different than the past. The next decade is going to look vastly different than the last decade. This blog is about the transition.
The Significance of Renewables
What Will The Future Look Like?
What Do The Experts Say?
Hope is Complex and Fragile
Personal Change Does Not Equal Social Change
Why Genesis 1:28 Doesn't Apply
It's Not About Running Out of Oil