• Feb 13th 2008 at 8:31AM
  • 122

According to a study by the Energy Watch Group (EWG), all of you Mad Max fans out there might get the chance to live the movie if oil production continues to decline. The oil industry believes Earth's oil reserves can last about another 42 years at current pumping rates. Energy Watch, basing its conclusions on actual rates of production, says that oil production has declined since 2006 and will continue to do so -- by 2030, oil production could be half of what it is today.

The situation we're headed for -- and that some predict as soon as next year -- is called "peak oil." That means that although plenty of oil is still being pumped and sold, there isn't enough of it to go around. And that means the possibility of "widespread blackouts, the virtual collapse of transportation infrastructure in industrialized countries and a shortage of petroleum-based chemical fertilizers necessary to grow most of our food." And that means war, famine, pestilence, and hunger. A situation that is otherwise known as "deep doo-doo."

Of course, the caveat to all of this is that no really knows how this is going to play out. Long-range predictions have a way of being false as often as they're true (paperless office anyone?). We aren't suggesting that EWG is wrong, and we aren't saying that we don't need to be a lot smarter about our resources... but a lot is going to change between now and 2030. Who knows -- if a $30,000 Volt arrives in 2010, we could get another hundred years out of our oil supplies. Nevertheless, in case a Road Warrior future is in store, you might want to start practicing your lines now. Say it with us: You can run, but you can't hide!

[Source: Green Daily]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Dude - Iran oil production is also down also due to a lack of infrastructure investment. Funny how that happens when a country nationalizes oil production (or healthcare).

      For the best critique of this whole line of thought, a little history lesson is on order:


      Why is it that what has been proven wrong, repeatedly, re-emerges every so often and is taken as gospel?

        • 7 Years Ago
        "Why is it that what has been proven wrong, repeatedly, re-emerges every so often and is taken as gospel?"

        You mean kinda like all those people who insist that America's healthcare system is the best system in the world, when it's undisputed fact that we pay more and get less than any other industrialized country on the planet? What do they do different? Oh yea, universal healthcare, that's right.

      • 7 Years Ago
      look- oil is declining. stop saying it isnt. there is oil in a couple other places (such as alaska) and no one will let us drill there. if you want a better future for you and your kids, start listening to these articles!
      • 7 Years Ago
      The oil doesn't actually run out, demand simply outpaces all possible production because once production peaks, it can only go down from there. The question is when will it peak, or has it already? More and more, it's looking like it might have peaked already. The effects of which will gradually increase year after year. We may already be seeing the early effects but it's hard to discern from regular market trends just yet. I wouldn't buy an arsenal and start stockpiling just yet, but soon perhaps.
      robert pritchett
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just more scare tactics from the Over-Paid Politicians.....Hog Wash...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Demand increases year-on-year. If you compounded the expected growth in demand, you'd get much less than 42 years. (Steady 6% growth = a doubling of consumption in 11 years).

      However, peak oilers expect extraction rates to go down, so we'll probably get a lot more than 42 years, just at a greatly reduced rate.

      The prediction for a peak and decline (as opposed to increasing usage until it's suddenly gone) comes from a model called Hubbert linearisation. The rates over time of resource extraction depend on the initial size of that resource. Individual wells, fields, countries and regions have adhered fairly closely to a peak model; the idea is that in aggregate the world will do the same.

      The article is also slightly off-- oil peaked in 2005. 'All liquids', which counts ethanol, biofuels, orimulsion, etc. peaked in 2006.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Furthermore, estimates such as the one listed here generally ignore one vital item that shows a fundamental misunderstanding.

      When countries report "reserves" they ARE NOT reporting the amout of oil in the ground. They are report the oil that is in the ground that is econimically viable with current technology.

      So when the price goes up reserves go up to counterbalance it. Technology also has a MASSIVE effect: for example there is more oil availible to the market today than there was 30 years ago- despite depletion. This is the result of technology (3D seismic, directional drilling etc.)

      Read Dr. Tilton's book if you want to understand more about it (and not just for oil).
      • 7 Years Ago

      This story is fine as it encourages people to realize the potential effects of a resource supply shortage. However, "peak oil" is a theory that really hasn't established itself yet due to ongoing, widespread debate. Additionally, your 40-some-odd year estimate of when worldwide oil supplies will be exhausted is bogus. Please post a source for that estimate, as the "oil industry's" range of estimates typically includes 20-200 years. We just don't know. It's equivalent to a scientist in the 50's estimating that by the year 2000 we will all be riding around in flying cars. There's just too much that can happen (ie. oil discoveries) to know how much oil will be lying around in 40 years.

      But anyways, thanks for raising some awareness and you have everyone's respect for that. I love reading your blog and it kicks ass. I need podcast #87, it's a slow day!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ignorance is bliss. I think alot of us fail to understand the impact of oil on our lives....some folks think of it only relative to the gas we put in our cars....but there is nothing in our lives that impacts us more for without oil there is no life. If the tap was cut off today, how long do you think you would still be alive? a week, a month, a year?

      Here's some good info...get educated...
      David Scott
      • 7 Years Ago
      We need to end our reliance on fossil fuels. Anyone who understands the actual science on global warming can accept that quite readily.
      john rouse
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      All peak oil scenarios are intrinsically linked to the Hubbert Linerization Method- it is often called Hubbert's Peak- and face a similar set of problems. First, the analysis is entirely a function of production at the amalgamated geologic limit and assumes physical exhaustion mechanisms. However, oil as a heterogeneous resources does not even face a physical exhaustion mechanism- it faces and economic one (i.e. there is a reservation price, and we will not extract all petroleum which would entail mining the earth to get it). There is not a single economic consideration in the HL method. There will not be shortages those assertions undoubable come from people who have never even been within a mile of an economics class- shortages only occur when the government sets a price cap (a huge mistake). This is simply the tip of the iceberg- there are a plethora of problems with the method.

      I suggest that if you want to know how things will look, then find a Ph.D. thesis by Robert Arguilera titled "Assessing the Long Run Availibility of Global Fossil Energy Resources"- Colorado School of Mines. It analyzes something called the cummulative supply curve.

      Some of you may recognize, if you have never read that defender of the HL method, Kenneth Deffeyes the School of Mines. It admitedly has the best Petroleum Engineering department on earth and Deffeyes, the fool, graduated from there, although so did I.

      For more general but no less fascinating analysis I suggest "On Borrowed Time?" by Dr. Tilton.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My tar sands comment was unclear: Unfortunately, we are losing 3.9 million barrels **a year**, minimum, to depletion.

      Should be: Unfortunately, we are losing 3.9 million barrels a day **each year**, minimum, to depletion.
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