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Wednesday, December 07, 2005 

The Peak

ol' 288
Originally uploaded by noahstone.
Antoine, who sold his first novel told me about the sudden demise of Clark Foam, the company that provides the cores for almost all surfboards. It turns out that the process of making the foam requires toxic chemicals that can not meet pollution standards. The immediate dearth of foam has lit a fire under surfboard manufacturers to find new materials and has punctuated the equilibria of the craft. Antoine implied that there was a correlation to oil supplies and new, clean technology. Unfortunately, running out of oil won't jumpstart the alternative fuel market because we aren't going to just run out. There isn't going to be a day where you go to Chevron and they say, "sorry folks, Chevron is closed for the remainder of humanity."

The reality is oil production is a bell curve. The concept is called Peak Oil. Experts say we reached the peak in 2000 and, therefore, production will be decreasing from here on out. Unfortunately, China and the developing world's thirst for oil is growing, world population will double and demand will continue to increase over the next 15 years. We do not have to run out of oil to have a major global crisis, the price just has to go up, which it most certainly will. And this isn't just about filling your car up with gas; everything in the grocery store, everything on the shelves is there because of oil and everything will cost a lot more when oil does.

The other day the price of oil went up $.60 a barrel and, as a result, Walmart's stock went down 2%. Our entire economy is tied to the price of oil.

Just as with global warming, there are nay-sayers. There are those who disagree with the science or, at least, don't believe we've hit the peak yet. According to the Georgia Institute of Technology, the damage has been done with global warming. Even if we stop polluting now, climate change will persist for a century. How far down the backside of the oil supply bell curve do we have to slide before we make a real commitment to alternative technologies? We need to be honest about what the backside of the bell curve is going to look like. Yes, it will mean $5 a gallon fuel prices for Americans, but it will also mean more war, more starvation and more suffering. Millions of people are going to die and perhaps billions will live in unimaginable squaller as a result of the greed of corporate America and our willful indifference.

I recommend reading Peak Oil: Life After the Oil Crash. It's a doomsday view of the world, so take it for what it is.

And see Syriana.

Sorry this post wasn't funny.

Seems to me that with the advent of global warming the great unwashed third world will be warm enough for the rest of us to simply take their oil.

Problem solved.

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