Facing climate change with “peak oil” down

News just in – Big Oil rebutting Peak Oil theory. Is this really news? Well, I think so.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with the debate. In one corner, we have some environmentalists and Peak Oil-ers, declaring that the world’s oil production has peaked, holding pictures of nice, aesthetically pleasing Hubbert’s Curve, and making the economic case to the world that actually, we HAVE to find an equivalent to hydrocarbons because (screw you, big oil) we don’t have a choice- we’re running out.

In the other corner- the oil companies, trying their hardest to list reserves, increase share prices, strike oil, make money, and deny that peak oil is, or will be in the recent future, an issue to be taken seriously.

Who to believe?

There are educated and informed people lobbying for both side; but in recent months, I (and many others) believe the whole debate has changed entirely. The peak in global supplies simply hasn’t happened- and as nicely outlined by George Monbiot, a former peak oil evangelist turned denier, predictions have been wrong, time after time. Other publications, such as the Myth of the Oil Crisis by Robin Mills, have been saying this all along.

Whether we like it or not, there are now new technologies available to find, and extract, hydrocarbons in places that were entirely unthinkable when Hubbert first came up with that curve, over 50 years ago. It’s not that surprising – how many people in the 50s would ever have conceived of the gadgets that we have today? Technology has advanced not just in our everyday life, but in the oil world too. Clinging onto an old, outdated theory and diagram isn’t helping anyone, and it certainly isn’t changing the way that we use oil. In the last few years, the whole energy ‘game’ has been turned upside down.

The United States is set to become an energy exporter within a decade , thanks to its shale gas reserves and fracking. OPEC’s stranglehold on world energy supplies will be loosened. Energy security for the US won’t be top of their agenda; domestic supplies will see to that.

But most importantly – the peak oil argument can no longer be used to convince governments that we need to find alternative sources of energy.

This is critical. If we continue the way we are going – using hydrocarbons as fast as we can find them – the world will be an entirely different place in just a few decades. We were warned that climate change of two degrees was all that the world could take; now, climate change of five degrees is looking more likely.

The advent of the unconventional oil era means that Big Oil will continue, ever stronger. Hydrocarbon emissions will continue, and the world’s climate will suffer. Now that Peak Oil cannot be used as an argument against the world using hydrocarbons, we need to find another reason to break our hydrocarbon addiction, and fast.

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