The End of Suburbia

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The End of Suburbia

Is our entire way of life in jeopardy? What's going to happen when the world reaches its peak in oil production? These and other fascinating questions are answered in this amazing movie. If you want to learn more about the issue, check out Peakoil.org.

The basic premise is that we are nearing the peak in oil production and that will have serious consequences on our way of life.

The chart above illustrates the production of oil and natural gas liquids on earth. As you can see, the United States reached its peak in oil production in the early 1970s. And as the graph indicates, the rest of the world isn't much further behind. This isn't so much a matter of if but a matter of when. Nearly all the experts in the movie concur that we will reach our peak in oil production by 2020. However, many other experts in the film believe that it could be within the next five to ten years. All of them, however, do agree that it is imminent.

Now I don't think you have to be Einstein to realize that there is a finite amount of oil. But I think most of us are thinking about this in the wrong manner. I know I was. I was always wondering, "What will we do when we run out?" This, according to the film, is all wrong. There are some technical issues at play in dealing with the production of oil. But the main crux of the matter is that as we reach this peak the demand is still increasing which of course will lead to soaring oil prices. The chart below illustrates this point quite well:

Well, we'll get by, right? We will just have to use Hydrogen fuel. Our bright scientists will figure something out: wrong! Hydrogen fuel is a myth. You need more energy to produce it than it's worth. And it's predicated on the idea that you will have energy to create it, but how will you get that energy once we reach the oil peak?

So just how will this affect us? It's pretty depressing to even think about. And I think we are collectively in denial about this. Have you ever stopped to think just how much we depend on oil? Sure we're all aware that oil fuels the cars we drive. But what about the pesticides and fertilizers we use to grow our food? What about the machines we use to process and package that food? What about the oil and natural gas we use to transport that food to us? And then there is the fact that we have become dependent upon goods shipped from 12,000 miles away in China. What do we when those trade routes are hampered by rising fuel costs? Can we continue commuting to work the way we do if gas prices triple?

For all the doomsday scenarios there are some bright sides. The end of urban sprawl! The renewal of real community living. We will be forced to stick together and grow food closer to our homes. We will be forced to unite for a common cause, and that sounds like a great thing to me. Have you noticed how devoid of community life most "communities" are? I am the friendliest guy in my neighborhood, always saying hello and introducing myself to people, and it just freaks people out. We have lost our sense of community and this could very well be the catalyst that brings it back. The end of Walmart as we know it! What's going to happen to Walmart when they can't get their cheap supplies from China? Well, we can all hope.

At the very least, I urge you all to watch this film. It's something we all need to start thinking about. There are no easy solutions. But we can't just pretend it's never going to happen.

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Published in: on April 19, 2006 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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