The oil crisis—what do you think?


James Kunstler of EnergyBulletin.net predicts “doom and gloom”:http://www.energybulletin.net/4856.html pretty soon due to fallout from falling energy production. The argument, as outlined, goes like this (and include natural gas in with oil here, where appropriate):

1. We don’t have to wait for the last drop of oil to have an energy crisis. The energy crisis starts when the year of “peak production” is over and production starts to slide. This is because the easiest oil is extracted first, followed by harder-to-get and lower quality oil. The crisis involves declining supply and higher prices.
2. Alternative energy sources (in the current generation) depend on high initial energy inputs, presumably from oil. We probably will not get to the point where we can implement self-sustaining non-oil energy production.
3. We probably have hit peak production, and already on the decline.
4. As resources decline, people will resort to violence to maintain their standard of living.

He could be right, but maybe not. I understand the peak oil argument, and to some degree I buy into it. I don’t know if we’ve hit peak production (worldwide), but I wouldn’t be surprised.

My questions are:
1) is the outlook on alternative energy sources really that bleak? Kunstler dismisses each of the popular ones in one sentence or two, though maybe there is a lot of research behind each one of those sentences, I don’t know. Given a sound, forward-looking energy policy, can we develop and implement the technology to maintain a reasonable energy output that is not dependent on oil?
2) is there technology that we can use now to augment our fossil fuel energy source? Can this extend the life of the fossil fuel source we have now?
3) is a lower energy output really that bad? Do we need to use electricity for everything? Really, can we survive without using so much power? I think we can, and I think that people can adjust. People have been thinking for years about conservation and alternative energy strategies, such as alternative transportation. This is on people’s minds, and I think that our only hope for weathering the Long Emergency, should it emerge, is to have faith that people will adjust their lifestyles. Otherwise, we’ll spend a few years in dread and then create the thing we fear.

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