19 July 2012

Peak Oil is wrong, alas

George Monbiot reports that there's plenty of oil after all, if we are willing to spend enough money and wreck enough of the environment.

The automatic correction resource depletion destroying the machine that was driving it, that many environmentalists foresaw, is not going to happen. The problem we face is not that there is too little oil, but that there is too much.

We have confused threats to the living planet with threats to industrial civilisation. They are not, in the first instance, the same thing. Industry and consumer capitalism, powered by abundant oil supplies, are more resilient than many of the natural systems they threaten. The great profusion of life in the past, fossilised in the form of flammable carbon, now jeopardises the great profusion of life in the present.

There is enough oil in the ground to deep-fry the lot of us and no obvious means to prevail upon governments and industry to leave it in the ground. Twenty years of efforts to prevent climate breakdown through moral persuasion have failed, with the collapse of the multilateral process at Rio de Janeiro last month. The world’s most powerful nation is again becoming an oil state and if the political transformation of its northern neighbour is anything to go by, the results will not be pretty.

Update: A lot more information about the data and the implications.


Al said...

I'm not sure I'd call Peak Oil "wrong."

Let me know when it is below $50 a barrel again.

Jonathan Korman said...

Properly speaking, Peak Oil isn't about the price, it's about the volume of oil production. The prediction was that it was at, or near, the point at which production would begin to decline no matter what the price of oil was.

Al said...

Sure but there is a corollary that the price would continue to rise as the costs of pulling out what was left went up and up because the easy to get oil was gone.