Today, the UK Energy Research Centre published its Global Oil Depletion Report online at http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/tiki-index.php?page=Global+Oil+Depletion. This report reinforces the conclusions of the IEA Energy Outlook in December last year, which I blogged about in my very first post, Peak Oil in 2020? The executive summary of the report provides interesting, if disturbing, reading. The most telling sentence of the summary is:-
On the basis of current evidence we suggest that a peak of conventional oil production before 2030 appears likely and there is a significant risk of a peak before 2020.
Basically we are looking at peak oil of conventional sources in ten or twenty years (or less).
Given that the report by Hirsch et al (2005) for the US Department of Energy argued that a twenty year lead-in time was needed to avoid massive social upheaval, we don't have a lot of time.
The peak itself is important. But given the sheer physical limitations on oil extraction, it seems that the rate of decline (how much less oil can be extracted year on year) will be critical. Increasing demand for energy from rapidly industrialising nations such as China and India, coupled with the already high demands of industrialised nations like the US, suggest that competition for energy supplies will be fierce.
With our complete dependence on cheap oil for our transport, agriculture, heating and food distribution infrastructure, we need to stop ignoring this and hoping it will go away.
The Transition movement (see the wiki here http://transitiontowns.org/ ), with its emphasis on engagement and building local resilience, offers one way forward. I am encouraged by the increasing number of Transition initiatives around the globe.