Peak Oil is the point in time where we can no longer produce enough oil to meet projected demand. We passed this peak in early 2006 and since then oil prices have risen 300%. Rising oil prices have serious consequences for our modern industrialized society, which is heavily dependent on oil to power our transportation and food systems.
Peak oil does not mean that we are running our of oil, in fact we still have quite a bit of it left. The problem is that we can no longer produce oil at a fast enough rate to meet our demand for it, which continues to increase. Because oil is so vital to our way of life, people have a tendency to pay whatever price is asked for this oil. Demand for oil is inelastic, therefore prices will have to rise significantly before we adjust our consumption patterns to the available supply.
When oil prices go up, so will the prices of a lot of other things. Plastics, asphalt, waxes, some pesticides & fertilizers are all made from fossil fuels. Many of the goods in our local stores are shipped long distances to our local market in diesel burning vehicles. The food we eat is manufactured by burning oil and applying chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas and coal).
The more serious effects of peak oil are:
- Rapidly rising costs of transportation fuels
- Rising costs of many other products and services
- Increasing food prices
- Decreased availability of goods and services
- Economic contraction AND high inflation
Many of the predictions about peak oil are starting to come true. We are presently in the midst of one of the worst recessions in history and a significant cause of these economic problems that is often over-looked is high oil prices. With high oil prices, companies can't continue to grow and factories can't continue to produce goods with the amount of money they are spending on transportation energy. Ultimately, they have to raise prices to cover their higher costs and this is what inflation is.
High food prices and food shortages have led to riots in North Africa and other parts of the world that depend heavily on food imports. The costs of transporting food to these countries is going up as a result of high oil prices, and the price of grains and corn has increased to the highest levels ever recorded.
There are things we can do to lessen the impact of peak oil but we can't bring our current lifestyle with us. Driving less and producing as much food as we can at home or close to home will help reduce the demand for oil and also help us save money. Making this transition to a less energy intensive lifestyle more fun and enjoyable is one of the goals of our organization.