Monday, November 15, 2004

Peak Oil and the decline of civilization

This week's Barron's has an opinion piece by Charles Maxwell, an energy analyst at Weeden & Co. He repeats the "Peak Oil" argument and describes the consequences:
Barron's Online - The Gathering Storm: "Our country's leaders have three main choices: Taking over someone else's oil fields; carrying on until the lights go out and Americans are freezing in the dark; or changing our life style by deep conservation while heavily investing in alternative energy sources at higher costs."

I'm skeptical of these conclusions because (1) the changes will be gradual, thereby giving the economy time to adjust, and (2) the adjustment process includes development of alternatives that become economically viable only when oil prices go higher.

Still, the consequences are dire enough that I would be interested in hearing thoughtful counter-arguments.

2 comments:

Gene Sprague said...

The author forgets some obvious alternatives: 1. Develop our coal supplies which is the largest in all the world. 2. Develop our own oil and gas by drilling in currently forbidden sites.

Richard said...

Well, it would be nice if there were more forbidden areas in which to drill, but as he points out, the world is running out of new unexplored sites, period.