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Peak Oil and Our Future: How Energy Depletion Will Change Our Lives

Author: Charles Douglas Craft
Organisation: Charles Douglas Craft
Publish Date: June 2007
Country: Global
Sector: Petroleum
Method: Forecasting
Theme: Energy
Type: Other publication
Language: English
Tags: Peak oil, Energy supplies, Population growth, Resource depletion, Hubbert's Peak oil predictions,Global economy, Renewable energy

Peak Oil and declining energy supplies represent the most serious crisis we have ever faced as a species. Current world population and our relatively luxurious way of life in America are completely dependent on cheap and readily available energy. Our civilization has developed over the past 150 years because we have discovered and exploited abundant – but finite – fossil fuels for cheap energy. Coal, oil, and natural gas were formed millions of years ago, and our use of this one-time planetary energy endowment has significantly increased food production and has led to exponential population growth. Cheap energy has produced social progress and technological wonders, but it has also allowed our population to expand seriously beyond the ability of the earth's natural (non-fossil fuel) carrying capacity. Production of all finite natural resources over time follows a bell-shaped curve of increasing production, peaking maximum production, and then decreasing production. Unfortunately, this behavior is a fundamental property of nature and the laws of thermodynamics. While there's a large amount of underground oil remaining in the world, we have already used the higher quality and easy to produce half of known reserves and are at or very near the ultimate peak of world production – Peak Oil. From here on out, the remaining half of oil reserves will be of lower quality and much more difficult and energy intensive to produce and refine, so the rate of production will decline and oil will cost progressively more over time.
Oil is our highest quality and most important fossil fuel but we are also facing resource peaking crises for other fossil fuels and essential resources such as phosphorus, strategic metals, water, and topsoil. At the same time, our population growth has produced a growing need for more and more food and energy and this demand is now outstripping our ability to produce food and deliver energy. So, the era of cheap oil and cheap energy has ended and our way of life, level of comfort, and world population will have to make serious adjustments in the very near future.

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