Every day we pump 86 million barrels of oil out of the ground. The opinion amongst many industry experts is that we have already reached the point of maximum extraction from the world’s oil fields. This point is called ‘peak oil’.
In practice it’s hard to tell exactly when this is, as there are geological, technical and political developments that can constrain or delay output. However after the peak the rate of extraction drops remorselessly; and the price becomes erratic, producing increasingly frequent highs and lows as the world economy reacts by repeatedly going into recession and attempting to recover.
We believe that peak oil has already been reached. All the signs are that declining new discoveries, old oilfields reaching maturity, rusting infrastructure, deceit by countries wishing to inflate the level of their reserves for political or financial gain, bottlenecks in the supply pipeline and strife in the oilfields are conspiring to make sure that we will never exceed our current rates of extraction. And we believe that the roots of the 2007 crash and our inability to grow our way out of the recession have their roots in the arrival of the peak.
What about Cornwall?
For Cornwall, just as for the rest of the planet, we will now have to face ever dwindling supplies of ever more expensive oil. The implications of this are enormous. It threatens our energy and food supplies, our transport system, our health service, our industry, tourism, employment, housing, crime – every area of life.
Peak oil also threatens our work towards mitigating the impact of the climate crisis. Without a national emergency plan for alternative energy development a shortage of oil will encourage a massive transfer into coal extraction, with emissions of CO2 four times the rate of oil. In addition our efforts to adapt to a change in the climate will be hampered by the rocketing cost of the energy needed for the manufacture and installation of new technologies.
For more information on peak oil, follow these links;
- The Oil drum – A good site discussing issues on energy and our future
- The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO
- The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC)
- The Post Carbon Institute
- Peak Oil Explained Visually
For an interactive atlas showing global oil depletion: