The world is addicted to cheap , readily available oil. It's a polluting energy source that exists in finite amounts, the bulk of which is concentrated in the politically volatile Persian Gulf . Whether your nation's energy of choice is fossil fuel, nuclear energy or a combination of both, it is a deadly addiction. History will repeat itself in the convulsions of war, starvation and political upheavals when the current cheap supplies start dwindling, unless we prepare now for a future based on new energy systems.
Back in the 1960s, predictions that the United States would have pumped over half of its total supply of oil by the 1970's met with stiff opposition from the energy dealers and by governments buoyed up by fuel profits. They were wrong, the U.S. is now well past its halfway point in consuming its inexpensive oil reserves. Nuclear energy was touted as an unlimited panacea, destined to be so cheap the electric companies wouldn't even put meters on houses. Conventional oil is running out, and we now know nuclear fuel is quite limited in supply as well.
In the face of the world's greatest impending disaster, nations still doctor their listed reserves in order to preserve global credit ratings and credibility and to placate their populations. As an example, the $50 billion loan to Mexico from the U.S. was based on collateral in the form of profits on oil sales a collateral that was exaggerated and insufficient. OPEC countries are rewarded for artificial reserve inflation by being allowed to pump more oil per year, thus boosting their oil-based economies. The world's population is based on food grown with petroleum-based fertilizers, and cultivated by machines running on cheap fuel. As competition for this limited resource increases, starvation, population collapse, and global conflicts will ensue.
Burning fossil fuel or splitting atoms to power a car or boil water is like throwing antique furniture into your fireplace in order to heat your house. It wastes precious resources better suited to producing new materials or diagnosing medical conditions to improve health, rather than pouring it into gas-guzzling automobile engines or electric power plants that degrade the environment. But what choices do we have? Is there reason to hope?
We have gathered the data and produced a factual description of the problems the world is facing, the efforts being made by nations (pretty dismal), and the efforts of individuals (pretty amazing). We've covered some of the problems that researchers have, the vested interests and their involvement in obstructing progress and what you can do to help.
Creating a new paradigm
World population has already reached 7.0 Billion. At current rates of population growth it will reach between 9.2 Billion (low estimate) or 16.0 Billion (high estimate) by 2050. UN population growth control measures have been proposed but have not yet been agreed or implemented, particularly by lesser developed countries. Main population growth over the next century will come from China, India and Africa, creating hugely increased demand for both energy and food.
There have been no major new oil field developments since 1984 and world oil reserves are forecast to run out by 2050 or earlier. Natural gas reserves are forecast to last a little longer but will run out by around 2070. We supposedly have around 200 years of coal reserves worldwide but how can we convert that into clean, efficient energy? Burning fossil fuels, coal in particular, is known to create massive carbon dioxide emissions and opinion is divided as to whether these emissions are killing the planet through global warming, or not. Two things are certain. One, the climate worldwide is definitely changing - and not for the better. Two, non-renewable fossil fuel energy sources are finite - and will be almost totally depleted by the mid 21st century.
How Long Will the Global Oil and Natural Gas Reserves Last ?
The world’s proven oil reserves of 1,383.2 billion barrels will last for only 46 years if oil production and consumption are to remain at current levels, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The world’s natural gas reserves will also last for just 59 years if production is to continue at the 2010 rate
The top 5 countries with proven oil reserves: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait.
The top 5 countries with proven natural gas reserves: Russia, Iran, Qatar, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of crude oil using 19,148,000 barrels/day or 378 million gallons/day for motor gasoline. Canada is the largest supplier of crude oil to the US at 1,972,000 barrels/day. (Source: U.S. EIA)
For an authoratative view on world energy reseves, please check the BP Statisitical Review of World Energy - now in its 62'nd year of accurate and comprehensive world energy reporting.
The Hubbert Curve and PEAK OIL Concerns
The Hubbert curve is an approximation of the production rate of oil over time, which predicts that the oil discovery peak has passed and that increased demand will see production stocks run down rapidly over the next 30-40 years.
The curve was first shown in "Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels," geologist M. King Hubbert's 1956 presentation to the American Petroleum Institute, during his tenure at the Shell Oil Company.
It is very useful for predicting the depletion of natural resources. The curve is the main component of the Hubbert peak theory, which has led to the rise of peak oil concerns, as the original model did not factor in the massive increase in world population, with commensurate massive increases in energy demand.
This increase in demand will see energy reserves depleted much faster than envisaged in the 1970's and 1980/s, thus creating the urgent need to move to alternative and renewable energy sources totally - by no later than 2050 at the very most.