peak energy in the news:
Geologists and analysts have been saying for some time that estimates of global oil reserves may be dangerously exaggerated. The oil industry has been gripped by scandal since Royal Dutch/Shell twice this year downgraded its proven oil reserves by 20 per cent, or nearly 4bn barrels. Shell may not be alone. Other companies and even governments have hyped up the estimates of how much oil they have, which is a vital factor in measuring their economic health.... About four-fifths of the world's known oil reserves lie in politically unstable or contested regions.
Producers currently discover about one barrel of "new oil" for every four barrels that are consumed worldwide, and there have been no large oil or gas discoveries in recent years. Anywhere. It gets worse. The world's largest oilfields have been producing for many decades and now require heroic measures (such as pumping in seawater or steam) to coax the oil from the ground.
Just as certain as death and taxes is the knowledge that we shall one day be forced to learn to live without oil.
Richard Heinberg is a professor at the Santa Rosa branch of the New College of California, where he teaches courses on Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community.
IN POORER COUNTRIES, a rise in the price of bread can set off a revolution. In this country, the price of gasoline sometimes seems to have the same kind of power.