Thursday, March 23, 2006

Doomsayer's Lament: On Peak Oil

Ever heard of "peak oil?"

I just learned about it, and boy-oh-boy - what a downer to my day.

"Peak Oil" is a state where oil production reaches its max, and demand starts to exceed supply. It would be the end of the world as we know it, and we'd be out of gas.

Think $2.40/gallon is a lot to pay? Think about $5. Or $10. Think about how much our lives are wrapped around oil and gas and fossil fuels. Then think about how our whole lives would come crashing down if oil became scarce enough to initiate wars.

Oh wait, maybe it already has...

Fun web sites like Die Off are predicting global apocalypse, while even members of Congress are shouting from the soapbox.

Some folks, especially on the West Coast, are getting ready by planting gardens, walking to work, and installing solar panels on their rooves. When I first started reading about peak oil, a lot of it sounded like Nuclear Winter fall-out shelters and canned food stockpiles in your crazy neighbor's basement.

But then I think about what happened after September 11, when the gas prices spiked and people lined up for miles at the gas station. Or when Katrina struck and gas topped $3/gallon. It doesn't seem to take much to make us jittery.

Some experts say it would take us 10 or 20 years just to get ready for this scenerio - to ween ourselves from oil, restructure our whole way of life, and start planting Victory Gardens - while some say we've already hit peak oil and are on the downward slide.

Makes that Prius look not-so-dorky now, doesn't it?

Who knows? Who can tell for sure? Maybe it's just a bunch of wackos, viewing the first cracks in a falling sky.

But maybe we ought to prepare ourselves for No More Oil - just in case. Maybe I ought to take my Route 66 trip a little sooner than May.

Maybe I should learn how to plant tomatoes.

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