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Can we survive in a world without oil?

February 23rd, 2011 · 1 Comment

Can we survive in a world without oil. Lets find out answer to this quesation.

I was watching a National Geographic documentary called Aftermath: World Without Oil (see videos) and I couldn’t help but feel fearful for the future. Oil plays a huge part in our civilization that the sudden disappearance of this resource would throw everything into a virtual standstill.

Food and other goods will cease to be delivered to our cities. Giant farms will be wiped out and travel would be for short distances only. World trade will be a thing of the past and nations will become isolated from each other.

I try not to focus on doom and gloom scenarios because with so much going on in the world today – global warming, endless wars, acidification of our oceans, rising sea levels, etc. – it would leave the sanest person a mumbling, trembling wretch coiled in a fetal position in a darkened room somewhere.

What I do is to focus on solutions – things that we’re currently doing or improving on to stop or mitigate the effects of our current heedlessness. Things like clean energy, innovation, technology, and conservation, recycling.

Many of us are willfully shortsighted when it comes to these issues. We refuse to see what will happen 10, 20, or 50 years from now. Oil is one such issue that’s cloaked in our collective myopia. It’s a finite resource (can not be replenished) and as sure as the sun rises in the east there will be a point in the future when all the world’s wells will run dry.

Here’s the troubling part. We don’t have the luxury of time anymore when it comes to oil.

In conversations with Dr. Sadad al-Husseini, the man who was in charge of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil exploration, U.S. diplomats in Riyadh found out that Saudi Arabia may have overstated its estimate of its remaining oil reserves by as much as 40%. This was revealed in State Department cables exposed by Wikileaks.

What does this mean? For one, it means that Saudi Arabia may reach its peak capacity for oil production within the decade (next 9 years). Dr. al-Husseini thinks that once that peak point is reached, production will plateau for about 15 years and then go into decline from that point onwards. Some believe that the peak has already been reached, but that’s beside the point.

The fact is oil is running out and when oil production starts to decline, then the oil producers will no longer have the capacity to stabilize oil prices over the long term. Long before those wells will stop pumping, oil prices will have skyrocketed to levels where most of us will consider $5 a gallon as the good old days.

Can we or our children survive in a world without oil? It all depends on what we do today.

Here’s the sad part. There’s no dispute that oil will no longer be available or will be prohibitively expensive at some point in the future. NOW is the time for us to focus on researching and discovering technology and innovations to come up with alternatives. Every resource should be made available to scientists and inventors who are currently working to refine or discover clean fuel alternatives.

Unfortunately, with the current ‘slash-and-burn’ budget cutting currently proposed in Washington reducing funding for science, the federal government can no longer be relied on to provide support to scientists.

Let’s just hope that deficit hawks are right and that the private sector will take up the slack. At the scale that’s necessary, however, I doubt if the private sector can do it alone.

So, can we survive in a world without oil? It all depends on what we do today.

More great articles about Peak Oil:

Grist: Saudi Arabian reserves overstated by 40 percent, global production plateau imminent

Gas 2.0: U.S Believes Saudi Arabia Running Out of Oil

Huffington Post:WikiLeaks Reveals Imminent Saudi Oil Peak

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Tags: Sustainability

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Bazza // Apr 7, 2011 at 3:07 am

    The comments you have made are very valid although I believe that the decline in petroleum based energy will not happen overnight but over a period of several years.

    During that time we will see many people adjust the way the live to take account of the decline in cheap energy.

    Most people will start growing a large portion of their own vegetables and fruit and this will happen in the cities as well as there is a lot of space in urban areas for this to happen.

    As a species we are very resilient and adaptable and in times of adversity we do tend to work better with our neighbours. Because of this I believe that unless there are other factors such as war or Mother Nature shows us who is boss most of us should be able to survive although the lifestyles we have will be subsistence based.