Were We Wrong on Peak Oil?

1 Aug

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question, since we seem to be swimming in the shale and tar sands oil.  George Monbiot says we were wrong, that we have enough oil to fry ourselves in.  Rob Hopkins isn’t so sure. He thinks we’re still peaking, though the timing and details may be off somewhat. I find his discussion of Energy Return on Energy Invested persuasive.

From the perspective of a Citizen Futurist, it doesn’t matter if we are entering a brief oil glut. It’s the long run that counts. We’re still  facing either peak oil or runaway climate change, or likely both.

I just returned from the 2012 World Future Society conference in Toronto and one of the most interesting sessions was “The Global MegaCrisis: How Bad Can It Get?” Pretty bad, actually. The session had three speakers, Richard Slaughter, Michael Marien, and William Halal.  Slaughter is familiar with Transition Towns, and he incorporated the Transition approach into his presentation. Slaughter just wrote a book called The Biggest Wake Up Call in History, so we know where he stands. At the other end of the spectrum, Halal was quite optimistic and thought that we will see a 35-year economic boom just around the corner, stressing that “technology has a life of its own” and will solve our energy and climate problems for us.

Most sobering from my perspective was Michael Marien’s assessment. According to him, there’s zero chance of Halal’s optimistic outcome happening. He rates our chances (if Obama gets re-elected) at:

Catastrophe:        20%

Muddling down:  60%

Muddling up:         20%

Techno-Utopia:    0%

If Romney wins, it’s 30% Catastrophe, 50% Muddling Down, and 20% Muddling Up. If Romney wins and Congress goes Republican, it gets worse: 40% Catastrophe, 50% Muddling Down, and 10% Muddling Up.

Thoughts?

 

 

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