Like other eco-topics -- climate change, species endangerment, ocean ecosystem collapse -- Peak Oil has had it's share of detractors. Some cite Russian research claiming a geological mechanism is replenishing stores. Others contend that our supplies are so vast that they might as well be infinite. Regardless of their camp, skeptics of the peak oil concept have had to draw from a shrinking pool of watchdog groups for studies which matched their assertions.
Last week, that pool got a whole lot smaller, as the International Energy Agency, a major international petroleum market assessment group released their "Medium Term Oil Market Report".While the report is written from a fairly optimistic point of view, the real facts that it discloses mean big trouble for the world market in cheap oil. Andrew Leonard, a writer for Salon, summed the report up this way:
The problem is not that the world is running out of oil, but that right now, offshore oil rigs are scarce and expensive, skilled labor is tight, transport infrastructure is limited, and political considerations such as "resource nationalism" in states such as Venezuela and Russia and geopolitical risk in Iran and Nigeria are hampering investment and development. Logistics are the real problem, the report seems to be saying, and not the actual amount of oil in the ground.
For consumers, that will be troublesome in two ways. First, the "...effective plateau, rather than a peak..." in supply that the IEA talks about will cause prices of plastic items, gasoline, and of products in general which need fuel for delivery will climb as demand continues to outstrip supply. Second, prices of these items will be more volatile in general, because the supply is now more determined by human and political problems, rather than geological restrictions.
The upside of all of this is that committed TreeHuggers are one step ahead of the game. Even thought it's nearly impossible to completely eliminate your dependency on petroleum, every little bit you do means more safety from the thousand cut death that peak oil promises. If you're stuck for ideas, TreeHugger is here to help:
- Switch to wood heat to eliminate the need for fuel oil or natural gas.
- Cut your car use by commuting on a bike, or making grocery runs on an Xtracycle
- Buy as much as you can locally, since these prices don't have such a high percentage of fuel factored in, they won't be as volitile.