Thursday, July 24

The End of Oil/Life as You Know It

I've been reading a lot about "peak oil" lately. And it scares the crap out of me.

I don't know why this issue gets so little attention (even with $140 a barrel oil already driving global inflation and food shortages). As far as I can tell, there is a very credible case to be made that we reached peak oil in 2005 or so and that--no matter how high prices go--production will plateau for a while and then decline. As demand is growing fast, the price of oil will skyrocket ($140 a barrel is just a teaser of what's to come). Given that the global economy is completely oil dependent, the global economy will collapse not just within our lifetime but maybe within the next 10 to 20 years. Leading to resource wars (more than we have already), despotism and chaos.

Here's some references.

That's some gloomy shit. I'd love for someone to tell me that this is just fringe, alarmist nonsense but I really don't think it is. But doomsayers have certainly been wrong before.


There's an article in today's New York Times that casually mentions an estimate of global (proven) oil reserves of 1.24 trillion barrels (new discoveries are slowing and likely to add up to much less than existing proven reserves). If you do the math, at today's daily usage, that's 39 years of oil (which still isn't that long). But the key to peak oil theory is that the oil that's left will be much harder to extract to the rate of production will steadily decline. So the crunch will hit well before 39 years from now.

Tuesday, July 1


My Tragicomedy of the Surfers' Commons (prettier version here) paper was briefly rescued from obscurity by the Marginal Revolution blog and got linked to and discussed in a few places this week. While I'm grateful to the Deakin Law Review for publishing it, I often regret that it languishes in a forum that is not widely available in the United States where there is more of a market for law and economics. If I'd been smarter, I would have sent it to US environmental law journals (selling the tragedy of the commons angle). Nevertheless, it's good that it's out there somewhere and people read and cite it occasionally. For academic work, that is success I suppose.

And yes, yes I did discover this by narcissistically googling myself.