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oil-Are we screwed?

128shot

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With everyone just dropping straight down into it all-it comes down to this-the only way for us to survive is to either find an alternative to oil-or die



Western society is reaching peaks we never did, and it may all crash because of one resource we have become depedant on..


Is this true?



Anyone else offer a different arguement?



why am I scared for our future?
 
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128shot said:
With everyone just dropping straight down into it all-it comes down to this-the only way for us to survive is to either find an alternative to oil-or die
It depends on what you mean by us. Will the United States survive with its current level of consumption without an alternative to oil? Absolutely not. But then again, could the world survive if every person was living by U.S. standards? Absolutely not.

The human race will survive, and our standards of living will decrease. We can't expect to keep consuming at the level we do if China and India start catching up.

A fantastic book on this matter is Collapse by Jared Diamond, which develops a model for describing the collapses of previous societies (the Maya, Easter Island, Haiti, etc.)

Is this true?
We hope not. There are cases where societies have survived in spite of near environmental collapse (Iceland, Australia), and there are other cases where societies have failed (see above). We have to remember that, by historical standards, the United States is still a very young society. A very young society with a huge impact.

why am I scared for our future?
We should be. There ought to be a sense of urgency. We have to start implementing standards now, and examining our priorities now, before it becomes an insurmountable cost.

We need to start implementing programs to decrease wait-time on highways, programs to encourage people to move closer to work, development of cleaner and alternative fuels, raising standards for gas mileage, penalizing consumers who buy SUVs, rewarding consumers who buy fuel-efficient vehicles, improving CAFE standards, developing geo-thermal home heating, etc.
 

Kandahar

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128shot said:
With everyone just dropping straight down into it all-it comes down to this-the only way for us to survive is to either find an alternative to oil-or die



Western society is reaching peaks we never did, and it may all crash because of one resource we have become depedant on..


Is this true?



Anyone else offer a different arguement?



why am I scared for our future?
This line of thinking always relies on erroneous assumptions. It assumes that R&D of alternative forms of energy takes place in an economic vacuum, and nothing can speed up or slow down the process. In reality, companies will develop alternative forms of energy when it becomes economically feasible to do so. As the oil supply decreases and the demand increases, the price will go up. The higher the price of oil goes, the stronger the incentive for businesses to find an alternative.

Barring a national energy plan (which could speed up the process), alternative forms of energy will become readily available when they make economic sense, and not before.
 

128shot

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Errenous?





what exactly do you mean by that..
 
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The world's oil reserves are not going to run out at any point in the near future ie a few hundred years however alternative fuel sources have become a matter of national security and interest.
 

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I think we're screwed on the refinery side of the equation.
 
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Napoleon's Nightingale said:
The world's oil reserves are not going to run out at any point in the near future ie a few hundred years however alternative fuel sources have become a matter of national security and interest.
One could confidently make the economic argument that the oil reserves will never run out, however, oil will become more and more expensive. At some point, we will have to curtail our consumption. Will it happen by choice, or by necessity?

And as you point out, our reliance on foreign oil hurts our national interest, however, it's difficult to quantify the level of harm we incur from supporting Saudi Arabia.
 

-Demosthenes-

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The world's oil reserves are not going to run out at any point in the near future ie a few hundred years however alternative fuel sources have become a matter of national security and interest.
Estimates range from 15 to 50 years for cheap oil to run out, in which case companies will cease to make profit by using it. But the system takes care of itself, companies are already investing in other forms of energy (solar, wind, hydrogen). It's not like it's some big secret that in 15-50 years there will be a switch from oil to other energy forms. There is so much energy in wind, geothermal, solar, and other renewables that there really is no need to worry. Companies and businesses know it's coming and are preparing for it, like I said, the system takes care of itself.
 
F

FireUltra 98

Oh no, the sky's falling . . .just kidding.

Good points made by the last few posters. We're not running out of oil. Technology will help extract it cheaper, legislation will have to approve drilling in current "no go" zones and yes, the refinery capacity along with the entire distribution and delivery systems are extremely insufficient in order to support our rate of growth.

Bottom line, NIMBY's and uber environmentalists will have to a bit more flexible in order to improve the infrastructure.

In the mean time, the ones touting fear that oil is about to run out in our life times are just feeding the emotional component behind market swings-higher price market swings.
 
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Nezdragon

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I don't think we are running out of oil, or will anytime soon. The people who are saying "Dude, we're like runnin out of oil!" are the same people who are opposing drilling in Alaska and the Rockies... places where we could not only get more oil but lessen our foreign dependance.

Besides, who says that hydrogen fuel cells are the best alternative? If we hype out now and quickly research something, it could be far worse than waiting.

penalizing consumers who buy SUVs
Did you know that Barbra Streisand, a self-proclaimed environmentalist, drives an SUV? No joke.

We are running out of oil in a few years, but NOPE: Can't drill there, can't drill there, no not even over there, hey, watch out, you're hurting the earthworms... they're people too...
OH NOES!!! TEH CARIBOU!!1!one
 

-Demosthenes-

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I don't think we are running out of oil, or will anytime soon. The people who are saying "Dude, we're like runnin out of oil!" are the same people who are opposing drilling in Alaska and the Rockies... places where we could not only get more oil but lessen our foreign dependance.
People like to think that there is no oil left so that they can believe that "alternative energies" should be researched. When in fact this is all irrelivant because companies and energy industries are preparing for a switch of some kind and are already investing in these "alternative energies."

These industries are (1) want to make money and (2) are not stupid (or can pay money for non-stupid people to give them advice). So it logically follows that the system will take care of itself.
 

Kandahar

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-Demosthenes- said:
People like to think that there is no oil left so that they can believe that "alternative energies" should be researched. When in fact this is all irrelivant because companies and energy industries are preparing for a switch of some kind and are already investing in these "alternative energies."

These industries are (1) want to make money and (2) are not stupid (or can pay money for non-stupid people to give them advice). So it logically follows that the system will take care of itself.
From an economic perspective, you're absolutely right: The world economy is not about to grind to a halt when we run out of oil, because we'll switch to something else long before that happens.

However, our dependence on oil has moved from simply being an economic problem to being a matter of national security. This is why the government should fund more research into alternative energies, to hopefully accelerate this process as quickly as possible.
 

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During WWII, the Germans used coal to make liquid fuels, and I wonder what is going on here that is similar. We have plenty of coal. Perhaps the electricity from nuclear power plants can be used to run the processes that convert the energy in solid fuel coal to a diesel compatible liquid fuel? Seems to me that we already have that technology, but perhaps it isn't economically viable yet.
Anybody got info on that?
 
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Kandahar said:
From an economic perspective, you're absolutely right: The world economy is not about to grind to a halt when we run out of oil, because we'll switch to something else long before that happens.

However, our dependence on oil has moved from simply being an economic problem to being a matter of national security. This is why the government should fund more research into alternative energies, to hopefully accelerate this process as quickly as possible.
I agree on the national security point.

However, a lack of oil and an associated price spike could significantly lower our standard of living. There could be a significant lag in developing new infrastructure to replace oil. The real risk (and this is tied to your national security point) is a huge permanent spike in the price of oil (for example, caused by a collapse of Saudi Arabia).

I think the solution involves both an investment in alternative energies, by industry and government, and government incentives to encourage conservatioon of oil and taxes to discourage consumption of oil. If we improved average fuel economy of our national fleet of vehicles we would decrease our dependance on foreign oil much faster than if our resources were mainly devoted to developing new fuels.
 

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I think the solution involves both an investment in alternative energies, by industry and government, and government incentives to encourage conservatioon of oil and taxes to discourage consumption of oil.
There are future economic incentives for Business and Industry to do so, there is little reason for government incentives.


Bascule from Scienceforums.net says it very well:
http://www.scienceforums.net/forums/showthread.php?t=16575
Bascule said:
you ever heard of this thing called "macroeconomics"? Aggregate supply and demand?

Peak oil implies a gradual, steady decrease in supply. If supply decreases while demand remains constant, then price increases. As the price increases then demand for alternatives to oil, including ethanol, kerosene (coal oil), and hydrogen, will increase, and a new energy infrastructure will begin to materialize as demand for alternatives increases and the money made from them can be re-invested back into developing the infrastructure.

The grid doesn't just break when it runs out of something. The market will respond dynamically by bolstering alternatives as oil becomes increasingly more expensive.
 

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-Demosthenes- said:
These industries are (1) want to make money and (2) are not stupid (or can pay money for non-stupid people to give them advice). So it logically follows that the system will take care of itself.
Absolutely true, of course. The system will take care of itself. It should be pointed out that the system's goals are to maximize profits before all else and that this is not necessarily good for either society or the system's customers. If the system can make more money selling fuel for $50/gal than by developing alternative energy sources, then that's what it will do. It will never occur to the system to factor in what this will do to society.
 

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Kenneth T. Cornelius said:
Absolutely true, of course. The system will take care of itself. It should be pointed out that the system's goals are to maximize profits before all else and that this is not necessarily good for either society or the system's customers. If the system can make more money selling fuel for $50/gal than by developing alternative energy sources, then that's what it will do. It will never occur to the system to factor in what this will do to society.
Very true, no business remains successful by working hard to find a substitute for its products, unless they can control a substantial portion of the substitute. So it makes sense that they at least keep tabs on the progress of alternatives.
Society is just along for the ride, except for the part about us being their customers. They don't have to worry too much about what we think of them as long as they are in control of the energy that we need.
About the only thing that we can do as individuals is use less of their product, but that doesn't seem to be acceptable to most Americans.
 

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Kandahar said:
From an economic perspective, you're absolutely right: The world economy is not about to grind to a halt when we run out of oil, because we'll switch to something else long before that happens.

However, our dependence on oil has moved from simply being an economic problem to being a matter of national security. This is why the government should fund more research into alternative energies, to hopefully accelerate this process as quickly as possible.
What is this elusive solution that we'll find before the peak in world oil production? There's no signs of one coming along that is good enough to keep things runnning like oil does
 

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I happened upon this thread by chance. This has been my major area of research for the past year. I don't mean to seem combative in any of what follows. I offer the following replies in the hope that someone may take them seriously. What I have to say is not easy to take, and I understand that. I wish things were different. There's just no easy way to apprehend the problem that global oil peak presents, so I shall refrain from trying. Thanks in advance for your consideration.

This line of thinking always relies on erroneous assumptions. It assumes that R&D of alternative forms of energy takes place in an economic vacuum, and nothing can speed up or slow down the process. In reality, companies will develop alternative forms of energy when it becomes economically feasible to do so. As the oil supply decreases and the demand increases, the price will go up. The higher the price of oil goes, the stronger the incentive for businesses to find an alternative.
There are a limited number of alternatives available currently, and none of them, in any combination, will begin to remotely replace oil. As for new alternatives--I'm not aware of a single alternative energy source that hasn't been known about for many, many years. The science behind solar pannels, for instance, has been known since the late 19th century. There's a reason that they haven't been produced extensively, and that reason is that they are physically incapable, in the universe we live in, of providing even a fraction of the energy per unit cost that oil does.

Barring a national energy plan (which could speed up the process), alternative forms of energy will become readily available when they make economic sense, and not before.
Not if they don't exist.

I think we're screwed on the refinery side of the equation.
We're screwed on the supply side as well, or will be in a few years. Oil companies know this. That's why they haven't been building new refineries.

Estimates range from 15 to 50 years for cheap oil to run out, in which case companies will cease to make profit by using it.
Light sweet crude appears to have peaked last year. The only estimates that put total oil production peaking that far out are by people who expect the overwhelming downward trend of discovery (peaked globally in 1962) to reverse. Michael Lynch is one of the better known analysts who expects this to happen, but by definition, he's counting on oil that hasn't been found yet, and that no geologist I'm aware of expects we will ever find. Most of the estimates that rely on geology put peak of total oil production at somewhere between this year and 2012. Decline type III (decline for a nation as a whole) will likely be around 7-8% per year. See links below.

But the system takes care of itself, companies are already investing in other forms of energy (solar, wind, hydrogen). It's not like it's some big secret that in 15-50 years there will be a switch from oil to other energy forms.
The problem is that the switch needed to begin no later than 1992 at the very latest. It didn't. We won't have the oil platform available to perform the switch.

The "system" right now supports a lot of people. One of the things the "system" will do shortly after oil peaks is kick most of the people it currently supports out. There won't be enough energy to support them.

Good points made by the last few posters. We're not running out of oil. Technology will help extract it cheaper,
No substantive new technology to make extraction more efficient has been developed since 1982. Nor is anything in the works.

legislation will have to approve drilling in current "no go" zones and yes, the refinery capacity along with the entire distribution and delivery systems are extremely insufficient in order to support our rate of growth.
ANWR holds a 12 month supply of oil for the United States. It is the last known major oil field on the North American continent that can be extracted economically under any circumstance (not counting the Athabascan Tar Sands, but that presents its own set of problems that will limit production rates to at most 10 million barrels per day--that is currently a 4 hour supply for planet earth, a 12 hour supply for the United States).

I don't think we are running out of oil, or will anytime soon. The people who are saying "Dude, we're like runnin out of oil!" are the same people who are opposing drilling in Alaska and the Rockies... places where we could not only get more oil but lessen our foreign dependance.
Most oppose such things because it's fairly useless; there's not enough oil there to make a difference.

Besides, who says that hydrogen fuel cells are the best alternative? If we hype out now and quickly research something, it could be far worse than waiting.
It takes more energy to produce a hydrogen fuel cell than we get out of using it, so it makes little sense to convert to hyrdrogen.

People like to think that there is no oil left so that they can believe that "alternative energies" should be researched. When in fact this is all irrelivant because companies and energy industries are preparing for a switch of some kind and are already investing in these "alternative energies."
No energy company is preparing for any kind of switch except BP, and they're only doing so on a small scale in Northern Europe, which has done far better than any other region on the planet at mitigating this problem. The rest have invested in alternative energy mainly as a public relations scheme. They have no plans to massively implement alternative energy of any kind.

This isn't to say that there aren't some smaller companies out there that are trying to do so. But neither they nor the oil majors can scale their operations quickly enough.

These industries are (1) want to make money and (2) are not stupid (or can pay money for non-stupid people to give them advice). So it logically follows that the system will take care of itself.
Factor in human greed and emotional motivation and the foreknowledge of the economic consequences of oil peaking, and a very different inference is drawn.

From an economic perspective, you're absolutely right: The world economy is not about to grind to a halt when we run out of oil, because we'll switch to something else long before that happens.
Not only will it grind to a halt, it's already begining to. We're kept from news that might reveal that to us here in the United States, though. It will get rapidly worse.

During WWII, the Germans used coal to make liquid fuels, and I wonder what is going on here that is similar. We have plenty of coal.
With currently projected shortfalls, and assuming that we use our entire coal base for nothing but producing liquid fuels, we would have about 32 years supply of coal.

But being more realistic, taking into account the fact that we need coal for other things such as fertilizer production and production of electricity, we'd have a roughly 8 year supply. This assumes a 7% type III decline rate in world oil production, that the downward trend in estimated coal reserves-production ceases, that we export none of our coal, that consumption of coal for electricity remains constant, and that natural gas ceases to be a viable fertilizer feedstock (as it's sure to do).

Perhaps the electricity from nuclear power plants can be used to run the processes that convert the energy in solid fuel coal to a diesel compatible liquid fuel? Seems to me that we already have that technology, but perhaps it isn't economically viable yet.
It used to be the received wisdom that when oil got over $40.00 a barrel, all kinds of alternatives became economically viable. Well, we're hovering around $60.00 a barrel and have been for some time, and there's no action on it yet.

But yes, the electricity from nuclear power can be used to run coal liquefaction plants. Again, we can rely on that for 8 years.

Very true, no business remains successful by working hard to find a substitute for its products, unless they can control a substantial portion of the substitute. So it makes sense that they at least keep tabs on the progress of alternatives.
Oil companies are quite aware that they're in a losing game. No amount of money (at least not on the level that oil companies hold) will fix our energy problems. They're interested in getting as much cash as possible, converting it to commodities, and watching the planet burn.

Society is just along for the ride, except for the part about us being their customers. They don't have to worry too much about what we think of them as long as they are in control of the energy that we need.
About the only thing that we can do as individuals is use less of their product, but that doesn't seem to be acceptable to most Americans.
It won't be acceptable to anyone. Without oil, the carrying capacity of the planet is (probably) about 2 billion people, for reasons that become obvious to those who research the matter. The implication is also obvious.

Anyway, there's plenty of information out there on these and topics. Some links:

www.monbiot.com

http://people.lulu.com/blogs/view_post.php?post_id=15587

http://peakoil.net/uhdsg/WORLD_SUMMARY_html.htm

http://www.worldoil.com/Magazine/MAGAZINE_DETAIL.asp?ART_ID=2696&MONTH_YEAR=Oct-2005

http://hubbert.mines.edu/news/Campbell_01-2.pdf

www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net

www.peakoil.com

www.peakoil.net

www.theoildrum.com

http://www.oilfield.com/forcast.html

And you can google plenty more.
 

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The problem is that the switch needed to begin no later than 1992 at the very latest.
Is there a particular reason for that?
 

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Yes, see the SAIC's Hirsch report:

http://www.projectcensored.org/newsflash/the_hirsch_report.pdf

The report concludes that with drastic measures, it may be possible to mitigate the effects of peak oil with a ten year headstart, but to completely avoid consequences (assuming an alternative energy source can be found) 20years will be required. The best depletion models are begining to converge on a peak date roughly around 2012. Ergo, 1992 was the year we needed to begin the conversion.
 

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Some things to keep in mind when discussing peak oil is it talks a different talk than you will hear from alot of economists. The reason is because they are used to dealing with a static background situation. Yes once in a while new tech would come out that would change the picture radically, but for the most part they deal with strategies that don't have the background changing.

What ashurban is mostly describing is a combination of factors associated with peak oil. One is scaleability, or the fact that any new technology or method of doing things takes time to go into effect. Even with pressure, you can't make physical deployment That much faster. It's not physically possible. Period. Two, there Are no technologies in combination currently or even in development that can replace oil in any large degree. I say again, in combination. In otherwords, I'm not asking for one magic tech to replace all we do with oil, I'm saying that even with all the things that people are proposing together, your still looking At best at a massive economic downturn. Worldwide. On a scale that makes the great depression look small.

At worst, well, I'm not sure you want to hear the at worst, but as ash has already gone into it, 2 billion is the population on this earth projected to be viable without oil. We are currently around 6 and heading north. Do the math.

I am not saying that our efforts and ideas will not have an effect on peak oil. What i am saying is no matter what we wish or try, it is not going to stop it from happening. It's a geologic fact we have known for about 60 years now, just largely ignored. And largely from ignoring it, we made it worse and worse every year. With every year of inaction, we slide farther and farther into things that would make it worse.

I would end with the fact that even people who disagree on the form of peakoil, largely anyone who has a grip on reality and isn't grasping at straws agrees that the facts regarding peak oil in terms of a geologic event aren't something that can be disputed. There is a large amount of dispute as to when it will actually happen, but a few years really isn't a large difference. It's going to happen probably within the timeline ashubran is talking about, and even the most conservative and optimistic estimate puts it only 5 to 10 years after that.

I am one of the moderators of www.peakoil.com, a website that deals with the ideas and debates surrounding peakoil. I joined the site because of the quality of debate, but also because i loved the information that i got out of it. I too once believed that technology would save our behinds. Until i read one of the scientists actually involved on the most well funded fusion project on the planet tell my board they weren't even close. And neither is anyone else. We have to start actually planning for this, and not acting like it's not going to happen anymore. Especially the United States. I can't think of more country's that have farther to fall, and more to lose.

I post under the same name on peakoil if you want to say hi.
 

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I can't force my neighbors to pay attention to this issue, much less the whole city, state, etc. So I am doing what I can for myself. Our retirement house will be energy efficient, yes, but will also be designed to use LESS energy.
Those 2 would seem to be the same, but in the minds of most builders, they are not. Big houses with the latest expensive appliances, security systems, computer networking, huge entertainment systems, jacuzzi tubs, multiple 100 gallon water heaters, etc. are all touted as energy efficient, but they would be a lot more efficient without the unnecessary gadgets.
We are building a retirement house soon, and it will be heated with a combo of solar, gas, electric, and a wood stove. When the solar isn't enough, gas is the back up. If that gets expensive or in short supply, there will be electric in the bathrooms and the rest of the house will be a lot colder.
The woodstove in the basement is the final backup.
There will be no Air Conditioning, as the location, orientation, and design of the house keeps it cool enough that an evaporative cooler probably won't even be needed most of the summer.
Home builders, working with enlightened city, county, and state governments could change building codes to build a better insulated and tighter structure to start with, instead of just doing the bare minimum which is the standard in most communities. About a third of our energy usage, and pollution, comes from our buildings. We can't save all of that with better houses, but can make a huge dent in the problem.

The last thing we should be doing, tho, is waiting around until the government makes a decision.:(
 

128shot

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azreal60 said:
Some things to keep in mind when discussing peak oil is it talks a different talk than you will hear from alot of economists. The reason is because they are used to dealing with a static background situation. Yes once in a while new tech would come out that would change the picture radically, but for the most part they deal with strategies that don't have the background changing.

What ashurban is mostly describing is a combination of factors associated with peak oil. One is scaleability, or the fact that any new technology or method of doing things takes time to go into effect. Even with pressure, you can't make physical deployment That much faster. It's not physically possible. Period. Two, there Are no technologies in combination currently or even in development that can replace oil in any large degree. I say again, in combination. In otherwords, I'm not asking for one magic tech to replace all we do with oil, I'm saying that even with all the things that people are proposing together, your still looking At best at a massive economic downturn. Worldwide. On a scale that makes the great depression look small.

At worst, well, I'm not sure you want to hear the at worst, but as ash has already gone into it, 2 billion is the population on this earth projected to be viable without oil. We are currently around 6 and heading north. Do the math.

I am not saying that our efforts and ideas will not have an effect on peak oil. What i am saying is no matter what we wish or try, it is not going to stop it from happening. It's a geologic fact we have known for about 60 years now, just largely ignored. And largely from ignoring it, we made it worse and worse every year. With every year of inaction, we slide farther and farther into things that would make it worse.

I would end with the fact that even people who disagree on the form of peakoil, largely anyone who has a grip on reality and isn't grasping at straws agrees that the facts regarding peak oil in terms of a geologic event aren't something that can be disputed. There is a large amount of dispute as to when it will actually happen, but a few years really isn't a large difference. It's going to happen probably within the timeline ashubran is talking about, and even the most conservative and optimistic estimate puts it only 5 to 10 years after that.

I am one of the moderators of www.peakoil.com, a website that deals with the ideas and debates surrounding peakoil. I joined the site because of the quality of debate, but also because i loved the information that i got out of it. I too once believed that technology would save our behinds. Until i read one of the scientists actually involved on the most well funded fusion project on the planet tell my board they weren't even close. And neither is anyone else. We have to start actually planning for this, and not acting like it's not going to happen anymore. Especially the United States. I can't think of more country's that have farther to fall, and more to lose.

I post under the same name on peakoil if you want to say hi.


I agree with the geological fact, what I don't agree with is when its actually going to happen, IMO.


Technology won't save us from hard times-but it will save us from a irreviserable time.


I expect gas to level off at 3 dollars a gallon by 2010, and I also expect that we start mining shale before 2015.


then there is 4 centuries worth of known coal, and centuries more undiscovered that can be turned into petro...



Its going to be a bit harder times than before-but I think the human brain tends to solve problems when it has to.
 

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128shot said:
I agree with the geological fact, what I don't agree with is when its actually going to happen, IMO.


Technology won't save us from hard times-but it will save us from a irreviserable time.


I expect gas to level off at 3 dollars a gallon by 2010, and I also expect that we start mining shale before 2015.


then there is 4 centuries worth of known coal, and centuries more undiscovered that can be turned into petro...



Its going to be a bit harder times than before-but I think the human brain tends to solve problems when it has to.
Coal is a very dirty fuel. I really hope we don't start using it. Three dollars a gallon is unrealistically optimistic. Places where the government don't subsidize oil are already paying that.
 
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