Oil production peaked here in the United States in 1970, and since then it has been in an irreversible decline. What is even more alarming is that global peak oil production may in fact already be happening and by 2010 we will begin to experience a shortfall of billions of barrels a day.
This is certainly not a surprise, since oil is a natural resource it seems plausible that it could in fact be exhausted. Even if we continue to find oil, at some point it will take at least a barrel of oil to find another barrel of oil after which it will have a net energy gain of zero and quickly become irrelevant. To prepare ourselves for this outcome, there are a few things we should be doing right now.
- Promote Diesel. It is always a good idea to promote diversity when confronted with our changing energy needs. If gasoline suddenly became scarce, a diesel powered passenger vehicle could in fact be powered using vegetable oil or some other biomass. Promote diesel powered vehicles with tax incentives, and reduce the cost of diesel at the pump. Consumers who choose a diesel hybrid should get another incentive, it should be possible to combine these incentives to make a hybrid diesel a financial net savings.
- Alternative Power Plants. We need to reduce our number of oil burning plants and promote power generating facilities that take advantage of alternative sources. Wherever possible, the state agencies that license new power plants should be voting to permit alternate power sources such as wind, solar and nuclear.
- Research! Spend a lot of money on research. Get our best scientific minds together on this subject and let them explore a vast array of energy generating options. There should be two primary research tracts, in one case we need to provide a new source of energy for our transportation needs and in the other we need to find a sustainable source of power for our electrical needs.
It is inevitable that we will run out of oil. The US continues to be the dominant consumer of oil worldwide, as the supply of oil diminishes and other countries continue to demand increasing amounts of oil then we will be in an extremely unenviable position.