Peak Oil is evidence-based

The Canberra Times published the following letter from ACT Peak Oil President Jenny Goldie on January 3:


As one who tries to inform people about the implications of peak oil, I was infuriated by being lumped with such ''apocalypse-predicting subcultures'' as Christians who anticipate an imminent day of rapture when all non-believers will perish, and interpreters of the Mayan calendar who are convinced the world will end on December 31, 2012 (''Apocalypse tomorrow'', Panorama, December 31, p12).

There is a difference between those whose arguments are evidence-based and those based on belief. In the case of peak oil, there is evidence that supplies of conventional oil have peaked and that it is only non-conventional supplies (deepwater, polar and tar sands) that allow global demand to be met. These non-conventional sources have their limits, however, and it is likely that by 2015 there will be an overall shortfall of 10 million barrels of oil a day.

What happens after that might not necessarily be apocalyptic. Certainly, given the dependence of modern agriculture on oil, starvation could follow.

On the other hand, there is no reason why we cannot maintain supplies of both oil-based fertilisers and transport fuel to farmers to keep up the food supply.

Nor is there any reason why the international community cannot adopt an oil-depletion protocol and share declining supplies in a civilised fashion.

We are, of course, coming up against other limits, not least the capacity of the biosphere to absorb our wastes. Climate change is one symptom of this, thus it is imperative to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees.

If we don't, the doomsayers may indeed have their day in the sun.

Jenny Goldie, president, ACT Peak Oil