I love it when some energy expert predicts we are running out of oil and must convert to alternatives at any cost to save ourselves from inevitable doom. This is usually delivered in a breathless and intense tone that demands immediate action. I have a favorite retort that I love to use in this discussion, “The Stone Age didn’t end because we Ran out of Rocks!”
The oil age won’t end due to peak oil, it will end when we find a better, faster, cheaper energy solution than what oil provides today. Daniel Yergin, my favorite energy author who penned “The Prize”, wrote a long Wall Street Journal article detailing this situation entitled “There will be oil” if you want a much longer review.
Many of the solutions that will evolve us from the oil age are progressing faster now than ever before. For that we can thank the threat of catastrophic climate change. The fascination of the press on potential climate impacts has been greatly beneficial in one very important way – it has made energy matter again to many of our best and brightest. These are the students, researchers, and investors who a decade ago were all working on chips, hardware, software, or communications and whom had never stopped to think about energy much.
Here in the US we are in the middle of an oil boom we’d never thought we’d see again. Who knows how long it will last, we know they all end, but for now we’ll take it. This has been a milestone year for US oil production with domestic production passing imports for the first time in recent memory. Certainly no peak oil here, see that green line sneak past the yellow, pretty cool development that no one predicted.
Hopefully we will use this time wisely to move on more smoothly to what is next. But it won’t be “Peak Oil” with shortages and pain that moves us, it will be better, faster, cheaper solutions, just like those bronze and iron one’s that put all those stones out of business.