The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO-USA) asserted today that the world is facing a significant energy crisis, as the rate of oil production cannot keep pace with demand. The world is consuming four barrels of oil for every one discovered, more than 80 million barrels of oil per day. After 150 years of oil extraction, most major oil exporting nations are well past their supply peaks, defined by scientists as "Peak Oil."
"We are at the point of no return," stated Jim Baldauf, President of ASPO-USA. "While global demand is accelerating, worldwide oil supplies have reached a plateau and are now in decline. The era of low-cost, easy-to-get oil has come to an end, a moment of historic significance and one fraught with danger. The Gulf of Mexico disaster occurred because the quest for new supplies requires that we drill miles beneath the ocean surface. Without affordable energy to drive our economy, we can expect price spikes and economic crisis to be the new normal. The debate about Peak Oil is over; it is time for bold action. If we do not change our current approach, we will see tremendous global repercussions."
Representatives from across the political spectrum came together to discuss the severity of this issue and potential solutions. Speakers included Mr. Jim Baldauf, ASPO-USA Co-founder and President; Ms. Bianca Jagger, Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation; Mr. Jeff Rubin, Former CIBC Chief Economist; and Dr. Roger Bezdek, President, Management Information Services.
The speakers addressed the impending economic, geopolitical and military consequences of peak oil. Speakers provided analysis on the rise in worldwide oil consumption and the potential for a power shift among resource rich countries. They called for an emphasis on alternative and sustainable energy supplies and less risky methods of exploration.
"Depletion isn't just a geological concept; it's also an economic one," noted Jeff Rubin, former CIBC Chief Economist. "From a purely geological standpoint, you can always boost production -- or at least offset depletion -- by accessing increasingly costly and environmentally problematic sources of new supply, such as the tar sands. But as we saw from the recent recession, the global economy can't afford to run on the prices needed to pull that oil out."
Bianca Jagger spoke about the environmental impact in her comments. "Today we stand at a crossroads in history. The warnings from our most respected scientists are loud and clear: we have less than a decade left to address the issue of climate change before we reach the 'tipping point.' Our addiction to oil is dangerous and unsustainable. We have reached Peak Oil." Now is the time to decide if we are willing to die for oil, or if we have the courage and commitment to move Beyond Petroleum and shift from conventional energy to renewable energy.
Each of the speakers noted that the work of addressing the enormous challenge of petroleum depletion has barely begun. It is crucial to focus on creating government policies to address this issue, raising public awareness to shift behavior and crafting mitigation strategies to promote technologies that offer the highest energy return over the energy required for production.
Some immediate steps to consider include:
Higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars and trucks, car sharing, more efficient design and construction of our homes, workplaces and urban centers, and innovative recycling and reuse programs. These approaches represent the low-hanging fruit of Peak Oil mitigation.
Instead of building more highways, we must expand public transportation and make it more appealing, accessible and affordable.
We must also change the paradigm around how we produce and transport food, raw materials and manufactured goods. Investments by governments and the private sector must be designed to bring manufacturing and food production processes closer to our homes.
Without a change in current behavior, there could be drastic consequences. Recent reports from government and military agencies in the United States, Great Britain and Germany all point to shrinking oil supplies as a growing reality that could usher in an era of resource wars, price shocks, shortages of fuels and vital goods, and broad economic decline. The Joint Operating Environment 2010 Report released by the U.S. Joint Forces Command forecast a worldwide oil peak by 2015, and observed that the effects "surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India."
The consequences of oil scarcity and strategies to mitigate the risks will be addressed by many of the world's top energy experts at ASPO-USA's sixth annual Peak Oil conference, which begins today at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill and continues through October 9.
"We need to face this problem head on," Baldauf continued. "There is no time or energy to waste."
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & GAS – USA is a non-profit, non-partisan research and public education initiative to address America's Peak Oil Energy Challenge. ASPO-USA encourages prudent energy management, constructive community transformation, and cooperative initiatives in an era of depleting petroleum resources. Prudent energy resource management must include conservation and efficiency, ecologically responsible energy production and consumption, and the development of alternative energy resources.