Oil Is Here For a Short Time

We are so used to oil as a fuel and oil as an ingredient to make massive amounts of plastics and fertilisers that we forget that the availability of oil is just a tiny blip on man’s history that will soon be over. Like an algae bloom, it has triggered an order of magnitude explosion in population. We will be back to business as usual in the horse cart era unless we set up all the infrastructure for some replacement fuel, mostly likely solar.

This is not something you can leave to the last minute. It will take massive amounts of time, capital and oil to retool society away from oil (and to deal with climate change). It is not that oil will literally run out, but that the cost of extracting the remaining oil in energy, manpower and equipment will creep higher and higher to the point it costs more to extract than you can sell it for.

Even today, the Alberta tar sands, to produce one gallon of bitumen use 4 gallons of glacier water leaving it so polluted with arsenic, cadmium and carcinogenic compounds it must be permanently stored in tailing ponds. The Alberta tar sands mining operations produce three times as much greenhouse gases per barrel and require three times as much energy per barrel, as extracting ordinary crude oil.

The penalty for procrastination is usually quite minor, but on this issue, it is the death of most of the people on earth. If we don’t get off our butts, population will crash back down to less than 1 billion, its capacity to support humans without oil or equivalent. Even if you think you will be one of the lucky ones to survive, sharing a planet with hordes desperately wanting to kill you for your resources will hardly be pleasant.

Unfortunately, the elderly financial backers of the Republican party do not want the USA to take any action on climate change. I think they imagine they will die slightly richer if it does not, even if it condemns the country to the worst disasters in its history.

In an effort to bankrupt its competitors who have higher production costs, Saudi Arabia is flooding the market with cheap oil. This gives the illusion oil will last forever. The very opposite is true. Cheap oil means we are running out even faster.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)