Peak Oil: preparing for the “second half of the age of oil”

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In the journal, Science Omega, James Morgan has published an interview with me where we discuss how we can prepare for “the second half of the age of oil.” Because so many articles in the last half year have tried to convince us that we do not need to worry about Peak Oil, it was a pleasure to discuss how Peak Oil will affect us in future. The title of the article, “Peak Oil: preparing for the extinction of ‘petroleum man’ indicates that it is taking a very long term view but before he becomes extinct ‘petroleum man’ will contract and the hope is that ‘the alternative man’ will, instead, grow forth. For the entire article, please see Science Omega, but the beginning is below:
(The article in Science Omega):

Professor in Global Energy Systems Kjell Aleklett, President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO International), explains how we can prepare for the ‘second half of the age of oil’…

At the turn of the century, certain sections of the scientific community noticed a small but ominous speck on the horizon. Over the years, this speck has advanced, revealing itself as a hulking great obstacle that casts a shadow of uncertainty over our collective energy future. The speck has been replaced by something nearer and altogether more tangible. We now have the elephant in the room, and its name is peak oil.

So, what is peak oil? In short, peak oil will occur when the extraction rate of this resource ceases to rise. Typically, this point is reached when half or less of an essential commodity has been removed. It is the peak of the bell curve; the point at which the tail is longer than the rise to the top.

Last month, Time reported that peak oil had been certified dead by the International Energy Agency (IEA). It seems that unconventional energy sources in North America have delayed the onset of peak oil. To proclaim that peak oil is dead, however, is a little misleading. It would be more accurate to say that peak oil is dormant, or at least, that the rate at which oil is extracted is likely to continue on a bumpy plateau for longer than anticipated.

Of course, it is possible to argue over the exact point at which global peak oil will arrive, but at some time in the not too distant future, we are going to have to deal with this problem. Oil is a finite resource, and as such, it cannot sustain indefinite extraction.

Discussion at Aleklett’s Energy Mix

Kjell Aleklett is Professor of Physics at Uppsala University in Sweden where he leads the Uppsala Global Energy Systems Group (UGES).

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