The Global Oil Crisis

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January 16, 2009

Global Oil Crisis – Word Count: 1,823

Global Oil Crisis:

The depleting oil supply and the need for alternatives

Oil is the single most important energy source that drives our economy and makes civilized life as we know it today possible. It is so vital to our life that if the earth’s oil supply were to run out within the next 20 years, it would completely cripple the United States and its economy. We use oil and other fossil fuels for transportation (of goods, food and people), fertilizer, heating, cooling, to create plastics, to run the machines necessary for the production of almost any product that you can think of, such as: lighting, planes, construction equipment, automobiles, concrete, appliances, and almost anything that you use today. This vital piece of our life is found hundreds of feet below the Earth’s surface and is extracted for consumption every minute, but its supply is running out and quicker than many people might think. Our nation’s dependency on oil is not just an issue because of the crisis that will be caused when it runs out, but our national security depends now and in the future on it. Of course, if steps are taken immediately a total economic collapse might be avoided that is otherwise bound to happen when the oil supply dwindles to the point where extraction is no longer able to keep up with the demand. But these plans need to be in progress today, and some experts say that we are not preparing fast enough.

Oil has an abundant amount of uses and applications. The most obvious use of oil is for transportation. Oil is used to make gasoline and lubricant for cars and buses and it is the driving energy source for the world’s transportation system. The United States is the world’s leader in vehicle ownership and use (Povey). Passenger vehicles (not including vehicles used for transportation of goods, or for commercial/industrial use) in the United States alone consume 8.2 million barrels of oil per day (Povey) and roughly 7 billion miles are driven each day in a total 235 million cars (Povey). Oil products are also necessary to run production factories, heat homes, create electricity, transport food and goods, make pesticides and fertilizers, fuel planes (both commercial and military), and are also used to create plastics, which can be found in the majority of the products bought today. Oil also plays a tremendous part in water distribution, modern medicine, national defense, and farming. It requires 10 calories of fossil fuel in order to produce 1 calorie of food eaten in the U.S, and nearly 20% of our fuels go in to the food chain (Savinar). Our economy is obviously heavily dependent on oil and that is why we need to find an alternative before time runs out, or life as we know it (all of the things mentioned) will be in crisis and change for the worse.

Oil is not a renewable energy source. In other words, there is a finite amount of oil in the earth and it has no means of replacing itself when depleted (within the next millions of years that is). Once the supply is depleted, the energy source is completely gone. While the exact amount of oil reserves is unknown, in 2002, the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that there was 3 trillion barrels left (Povey). It is generally accepted among experts (such as Matt Savinar, author of the website lifeaftertheoilcrash.net) that the production of oil follows the patterns of a “bell curve”, similar to the one in the graph below.

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If this is the case, oil production will increase at an exponential rate, level out, and then decrease at an exponential rate, with the peak of the graph being the point at which one half of the world’s oil supply has been depleted (Savinar). Many experts estimate that we are currently at “peak oil”, the name given to the point at “the peak” where the oil production is no longer increasing and is about the start decreasing, while others suggest that that point...
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