Oil is a non-renewable resource and we will eventually run out of it. Ancient biological matter and a process that lasted about 10 million years are both responsible for the massive reserves of crude oil that we continue to extract today in order to power our industry, light our homes and move forward our transportation; amongst other things. There will be a point in the future when the maximum point of crude oil extraction is going to be reached and immediately after that, the rate of extraction will start to decline until all of the available crude oil in the world is used. That phenomenon is known as peak oil.
Expert companies that invest large amounts of resources on research and development have predicted that we have about 40 more years of uninterrupted crude supply, just by taking into account the amount that is held in reserves and the rate at which countries are extracting currently. The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC says that the world shouldn’t worry about peak oil until at least 2040. While the general consensus seems to be optimistic, not everyone around the world agrees, as they believe that OPEC has a conflict of interest by telling the general public not to worry.
Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we won’t try to take sides on the issue of peak oil and its certainty, but instead, we want to take a look at the factors that influence how peak oil may speed up on its onset or on the contrary, delay its advent. Since the 1980’s, the question of peak oil has been supposedly answered by experts but the fateful date continues to be delayed when considering the advances of technology that allow us to extract crude from places that we were unable to do so before. This in itself opens the practice up for new challenges that may no longer be technical, but instead economical.
Advances in the use of electrical means of transportation are one of the most common and popular factors that are directly affecting the speed at which we will reach peak oil. As electric cars do not use gasoline, they curve the consumption of oil in general. The thing is, that while most car manufacturers have formulated some sort of plan for this shift in trends; the amount of electric cars on the road is still under 1%. Cars are just part of the equation as well, you have to take into account buses, trucks for the transportation of goods and airplanes. All of these means of transportation are also making the shift but at a slower rate of course, and taking into account that current vehicles have an average lifespan of about 10 years, we are looking at decades at least before we make the complete changeover.
While we are on the subject of cars, another interesting trend to consider is the fact that the number of automobiles worldwide has been increasing by 4% a year, which means that 40 million cars hit the roads every year, but last year there were only 2 million electric cars. This large difference further supports the fact that it will be decades before we can truly see a difference.
It seems hard to believe, but in this day and age, there is a lot of oil being spent generating electricity in some parts of the world. In many parts of Indonesia and Africa, fuel generators are still the main source of electrical power and that means a lot of fuel consumption as well. As technologies get better and more accessible to the public, then there will also be a shift of the way resources are utilized to bring electricity to many places around the globe. Solar technology, for example, could be a great replacement for this form of energy since the geographical location is perfect for harnessing it and its efficiency and environmental value are also quite adequate.
The rate at which the world is urbanizing is quite alarming. Cities provide the best opportunities for people, so they are leaving the country to move to bigger urban areas. Living in the city actually reduces people’s carbon footprint and the use of oil, because there are more opportunities not to use cars and instead use public transportation, bicycles, walking, and pooling. Another factor to consider is the fact that cities have more strict regulations on the use of oil furnaces for heating and other types of machines that consume gasoline in large quantities. Oil is used in many things that we aren’t even aware of and those uses have to do with our own home appliances, the way we cook our food and even the food that we eat daily. Oil-based plastics are utilized for many of our daily activities and the consumption of these particular products also drive the need for oil in upward manners.
* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com