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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Surviving Peak Oil

The ‘Peak Oil’ theory seems to be making a bit of a comeback, not surprisingly, but it still reeks of what I call Apocolypsia Nervousa. “What the heck is that” you ask? It’s simply the urge by some to become afraid of the things to come. The loss of our oil supplies and easy living they bring us is too much to bear by some people, and so they envision a worst case scenario and think it means the end of the world for us. This isn’t rightly so, and the theory behind Peak Oil has some factual problems that distort our perception of what it really means for our future.
What does peak oil really mean for us today? Well, to answer that we have to look at what it really is, and not automatically buy into some of the OMG fads surrounding it. Simply put, there are really two definitions behind peak oil. One definition simply states that oil reaches its highest point of production, and then declines from that point forward. Another definition says that the peak is at its highest level of quantity. Given these two definitions are both factual, we have to look at what this means for us today.
We already are on the downward trend of supply based upon the definition that peak oil means the highest level of supply. Pretty much everyone can agree that there is no more oil being made today, and that it appears to be a byproduct of ancient carbon based life forms having been crushed and ground under tons of pressure and subjected to high temperature. I know, that’s an incredibly simplistic statement and maybe not necessarily 100% correct, but I’m not writing a book here, so go with the flow. We can manufacture carbon based fuels, and we do that today by making ethanol. And please don’t cry the carbon neutral song, there is no such thing. Carbon based fuels emit CO2 no matter how you slice the loaf. It’s still bread, just a different name for it.
What we really need to be looking at here is not peak quantity, but peak production. It’s all a matter of the supply and demand laws of economics, not the physical need and availability of the product. At some point and time, unless the Lord returns before that point, we will in fact run out of what we have come to call ‘fossil fuels.’ When that happens all we will have is what we can manufacture, i.e. ethanol etc.
It costs money to extract this oil from the ground, and those who invest in these companies expect to make a profit from their investments. As the costs to retrieve this product increase, the increase is passed along to the consumer. And unfortunately, we also have to remember that there will be speculators involved in the investments, artificially driving the costs of oil higher than they should be. Remember the price hikes in the Hurricane Katrina era? But in reality, we will see these true costs continue upward in an irreversible trend, increasing the bottom line cost of energy year after year. At some point and time, the cost will exceed our ability to pay for the oil we use. The law of supply and demand will suggest that the cost should go down, but in reality there will be no more reduction in the price. Only the wealthiest will be able to afford the treats that oil can bring us.
And that’s the point we preppers and survivalists need to be on the watch for. And I believe that point will be coming within the next few years. That point will arrive at different times depending upon your own financial situation, but why waste time waiting for the inevitable? Get ready for that time now, and avoid the pain that oil withdrawal symptoms will provide.
I’ve never been a fan of trying to survive in the big cities as it will be near impossible to do so. That’s why I urge everyone to get the heck out of Dodge today. Buy your own little piece of land in the sparsely populated ‘burbs, or even better in the rural regions of wide open farmlands or forests. With your own piece of property set up as a survival homestead you can beat the heat and prepare for your own peak oil event. Many homes are heated by oil fired furnaces and boilers. Get rid of them and either install biofuels or wood fired units, or go electric and install your own solar panels and wind turbines.
Equip your vehicles to run off of ethanol, and learn how to produce your own fuel. Learn how to produce your own alcohol based fuels. When the automobile was first invented, motors ran on alcohol fuels. Some of the world’s fastest race cars run on alcohol as a fuel. Who knows, you could wind up with a very profitable business by producing fuel for sale or barter down the road. Peak oil is going to cause some very high energy prices in the coming times, and anything you can do now to wean yourself off of these carbon based fossil fuels will only benefit you in the long run.
Heating and refrigeration, as well as transportation are the primary uses of carbon based fuels today, but we don’t necessarily have to rely on fossil fuels for these needs. We can use alternative power sources, such as solar and wind for some of our electrical needs, geothermal for heating and cooling our homes and so forth. As the availability of this technology increases the cost come down, and as the technology improves, so doesn’t the efficiency. It’s worth looking into making the switch today. And this is also based upon the supply and demand laws of economics.
As we get closer to the time of peak production the demand for these alternatives will be increasing, also increasing the costs for this technology. You can survive the coming peak oil crisis, but only if you take the steps to prepare for it now.