Today, the world consumes approximately 84 million barrels of petroleum per day (mbpd). The U.S. consumes 21 mbpd or 25% of the world’s output. Approximately 2/3 of this oil is used for transportation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has projected that U.S. oil consumption will increase to over 28 million barrels per day by 2025.
At the same time, world oil demand is expected to rise significantly as developing countries such as India and China rapidly increase their use of petroleum. Transportation will be the fastest growing oil-consuming segment. The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security indicates that by 2025, the number of cars in the world is likely to increase to well over 1.25 billion from 700 million today. Global gasoline consumption could double.
Oil Discovery Has Declined
To meet the ever-increasing demand for oil, new reserves must be continually discovered and brought on-line. Despite improved technologies for locating and extracting petroleum reserves, actual oil discoveries in terms of volume were at a high in the 1960’s and have since been on the decline.
Life After the Peak
What will a post peak oil world look like? Some experts predict a global economic depression, violence and suffering. Others believe in a seamless, market-driven technological shift from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy sources. A July 2008 study on peak oil prepared by Peak Oil Associates International explains:
- Because global oil demand is increasing, declining production will soon generate high energy prices, inflation, unemployment, and irreversible economic depression. Regardless of the time available for mitigating Peak Oil impacts, alternative sources of energy will replace only a small fraction of the gap between declining production and increasing demand.
- Because oil under girds the world economy, oil depletion will result in global economic collapse and population decline. As oil exporting nations experience both declining oil production and increased domestic oil consumption, they will reduce oil exports to the U.S. Because the U.S. is highly dependent on imported oil for transportation, food production, industry, and residential heating, the nation will experience the impacts of declining oil supplies sooner and more severely than much of the world.
One thing seems certain: today, the U.S. is in a dangerous and vulnerable place. Developing the technologies and infrastructure necessary to sustain our global society means taking aggressive action now. A transformation in the way we live is essential and inevitable.