Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Cilmate Change and Peak Oil

with 3 comments

These two topics are not ones where I would normally be recommending pieces in the Vancouver Sun. But even that organ is having to take notice of how the ground is moving underneath its feet.

Climate warming ‘highly unusual’ says new study takes a recent report from the US Geological Survey as evidence that those who argue the climate change is part of a natural cycle are wrong. In fact the report is even more suprising than that.  It seems the USGS is feeling freed from the constraints of the last eight years as its main thesis is that climate change is not gradual at all but is abrupt – and cites evidence from the Arctic to support that.

The age of oil is ending is a substantial and well argued piece which probably covers familiar ground for a lot of my readers but is a distinct change for the Asper stable.

The world is blithely unaware we will soon suffer severe shortages, experts warn, leading to a time of great economic and geopolitical tension

Written by Stephen Rees

January 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Transportation

3 Responses

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  1. The top story of the year is that global crude oil production peaked in 2008.

    The media, governments, world leaders, and public should focus on this issue.

    Global crude oil production had been rising briskly until 2004, then plateaued for four years. Because oil producers were extracting at maximum effort to profit from high oil prices, this plateau is a clear indication of Peak Oil.

    Then in August and September of 2008 while oil prices were still very high, global crude oil production fell nearly one million barrels per day, clear evidence of Peak Oil (See Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly,” December 2008, page 1)

    Peak Oil is now.

    Credit for accurate Peak Oil predictions (within a few years) goes to the following (projected year for peak given in parentheses):

    * Association for the Study of Peak Oil (2007)

    * Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly” (2008)

    * Tony Eriksen, Oil stock analyst; Samuel Foucher, oil analyst; and Stuart Staniford, Physicist [Wikipedia Oil Megaprojects] (2008)

    * Matthew Simmons, Energy investment banker, (2007)

    * T. Boone Pickens, Oil and gas investor (2007)

    * U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005)

    * Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Princeton professor and retired shell geologist (2005)

    * Sam Sam Bakhtiari, Retired Iranian National Oil Company geologist (2005)

    * Chris Skrebowski, Editor of “Petroleum Review” (2010)

    * Sadad Al Husseini, former head of production and exploration, Saudi Aramco (2008)

    * Energy Watch Group in Germany (2006)

    * Fredrik Robelius, Oil analyst and author of “Giant Oil Fields” (2008 to 2018)

    Oil production will now begin to decline terminally.

    Within a year or two, it is likely that oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand. OPEC cuts could exacerbate the gap between supply and demand and drive prices even higher.

    Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

    Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

    “By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame.”

    With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated building systems.

    Documented here:

    Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D.

    January 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm

  2. The responses to peak oil and climate change could be one and the same – and indeed need to be.

    North America, sadly, has no policy to electrify its railways – which are actually much more important in moving things long distances than trucks. But the short termism of most investors and their demands for “shareholder value” mean that the railways cannot raise enough money for essential maintenance and renewal let alone a major switch to a more efficient and more sustainable energy system. In the rest of the world electrification has mostly already happened – but that is because in most countries the government is still heavily involved in railway investment.

    Stephen Rees

    January 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm

  3. On the one hand, it’s good to see Peak Oil being discussed in all seriousness in the most mainstream paper you can find around here. But, I was utterly disappointed at how they portrayed the problem as *separate* from global warming. I see them (as you do, too apparently), as two parts to an even larger problem.

    I haven’t read the global warming piece yet, but glad to see the paper taking it seriously, too. Now, I’m still waiting to see The Province do the same thing.

    Andrew Eisenberg

    January 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm

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