- What if we discover more oil?
- What if we prepare for this and I’m wrong?
1. What if we discover more and the peak moves back 20 years?
Let me first say that this is not very probable. Despite record oil prices and improved technology, discovery of oil peaked four decades ago! One has to find oil before one can burn it, and we’re not finding enough to continue today’s rate of oil consumption, let alone increasing consumption that the world thinks is normal for “economic growth”.
However, for the sake of the argument, let us assume that we discover another 2 Saudi Arabia’s to cover the next 20 years. (Remembering that “business as usual” has to allow for exponentially more oil in a fairly predictable doubling pattern… just one more Saudi Arabia would not give us very much longer.) Assume the peak is now 20 years away. What then? Time to relax and party on? No! We would still need to take action on behalf of our children because the American Department of Energy Hirsch Report concluded it would take 20 years to wean off oil smoothly!
We have already seen that governments’ will not take a proper leadership role in city planning until it is too late. They follow the crowd and bend the knee for Big Oil because they want to be elected. It’s that simple.
Arguing too much about the date of the peak ignores how fundamentally addicted we are to oil and how much more enormous the task will be with every extra suburban subdivision that we allow. Our world population is growing, India and China are becoming car dependent, and we are burning 5 or 6 barrels for every barrel we find.
2. What if we prepare for this and I’m wrong?
To prepare for peak oil we should build car free, high-tech eco-cities based mainly on clean nuclear electricity and walking distance communities. If we do this we will:-
- cut pollution
- become energy independent
- create more efficient cities that use less of every resource
- create more beautiful cities with a greater sense of community which also…
- reduce depression and isolation caused by the current city plan
- reduce crime by careful town planning
- save lives normally lost in car accidents
- save time lost in traffic jams and commuting
- save tens of billions lost in traffic accidents, jams, congestion, etc
- save enormous national debts caused by importing oil
- create more resilient and diverse local economies
- stop funding nations that don’t like us Westerners very much
- reduce the risk of resource wars and international friction over the remaining oil
- solve Global Warming
- create attractive and sustainable cities for our grand-children’s grandchildren
- move a million people sprawled over 400 square miles into attractive New Urbanism of just 40 square miles
- reclaim the extra land for local farming!
- save land for local ecologies, local parks, local gardens, local farms, local energy resources, and local beauty and peace of mind
This article by Kurt Cobb brilliantly summarizes the outcomes if we collectively wean off oil and then find out there was more.
If we adopt the Radical Reforms and find more oil, society will be a better place anyway. If we ignore peak oil and postpone the reforms we need to implement anyway (for a variety of ecological, resource efficiency, sociological, psychological, economic and aesthetic reasons), then we have no one to blame but ourselves as we blunder into the final oil crisis unprepared!