photo: Daniel Lobo via flickr.
The latest study on peak oil by the UK Energy Research Centre brings up a good point on why the exact timing of peak oil -- whether it's already happened or won't until 2030 -- doesn't matter all that much. In either case, or any point in between, there really isn't enough time for governments to develop strategies to entirely avoid serious economic impact:The report adds that delaying the peak beyond 2030 requires "optimistic assumptions about the size of recoverable resources," not to mention slow rates of demand growth. Furthermore, there is "significant risk of a peak before 2020."
New Discoveries Delay Peak by 'Matter of Days'
As we're depleting today's oil fields faster than previously thought, and essential need another Saudi Arabia's worth of oil to keep pace with declines, new discoveries, even ones billed as 'giant' such as those made by BP in the Gulf of Mexico, will only delay peak oil by a matter of days.
We Should've Been Preparing for at Least a Decade
Report author Steve Sorrell notes that the difference between the most pessimistic and optimistic scenarios -- developed after reviewing more than 500 other studies on the subject, in should be noted -- is just 15 or 20 years. Not enough time to fully replace oil with alternatives.
Backing up that assertion, Sorrell cites a 2005 DOE study which said that large scale programs of substitution and demand reduction (in the US we're just beginning the former and seem to be oblivious to the latter, I'd add...) would need to start at least 20 years prior to peak to avoid "serious shortfalls in liquid fuels."
Read the full report: The Global Oil Depletion Report
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