As anyone with even a modicum of common sense knows: we are running out of oil. We use it far quicker than it can be replaced. It’s a bit like a bankrupt alcoholic’s wine cellar: the thirst is unquenchable yet, somewhere in the deep recesses of the claret-addled neurons, a tiny voice screams “stop, it’s running out, and you can’t afford any more!”.
You know the end result: the man drinks himself to oblivion until the cellars lie empty. Yet, in this rather crude analogy is an interesting sliver of hope. Just like the drunk man, we too can’t help but consume from our bountious oil fields. We also can’t replace the oil in them. Yet, once they are gone (or to be accurate, once they have peaked, and the prices sky-rocket) we will have to stop. We will sober up!
Sobriety brings challenges. How will we fill our time once denied our many fun-filled, oil-derived activities? Just think of the sheer amount of what we do that currently depends on oil, even assuming that electricity can be generated without it on a massive scale – which is not a given. This BBC Video shows some of the things made from oil. Highlights include innocuous yet vital things like wire insulation. Just imagine if there was no more plastic to insulate wires. That means no more plugs. No more extension leads. No more house wiring!
If we take it to the extreme then anything plastic is pretty much on its way out. No more iGadgets; no more TVs, mobile phones or computers; no more lipstick! On the plus side it means less plastic waste, which can be hard to get rid of (although kerbside plastics recycling is on the increase and businesses can find a recycling service for their plastic waste on our directory. Sorry, back to the story.
The rather apocalyptic yet brilliantly named website Wolf at the Door makes some thought-provoking predictions about peak oil:
I think it is likely, a hundred years from now, that Homo Sapiens will be living in small communities, supplying most of their needs from the surrounding farmland, rather like medieval Europe.
Personally I am more positive (a tame lion at the door?) as I don’t see an inevitable decline to another stone age. We are infinitely more technically aware in all sorts of ways than we were before oil came along. Also, “peak oil” is not the same as “no oil”. When it becomes scarcer we will need to switch our main oil-derived activities to other fuel sources (or re-think our activities) but there will be some left for the essentials.
The main issue is that we do need to think about and debate the sort of world we want to inhabit once oil does peak, as one thing’s for sure: things will have to change.