Thursday, 6 December 2007

A world without oil

If we run out of crude oil, what will the world become? We'll be entering the Second Iron Age, having come through a very brief period of high energy oil fuelled growth. Maybe the Steampunk visions will come to pass and most of our machines will be gears, pulleys and cables rather than silicon. Or maybe we'll start using wind, solar and wave power more. Our planes turn to zeppelins, our ships go back to sails or nuclear batteries and our cars become solar-electric-pedal powered multi-hybrids. I don't doubt we will survive, but the oil won't last forever and now it's become such a part of our lives that the transition to extreme high prices or no oil at all will be very difficult indeed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did recently watch Crude.
PPS - It's possible rising prices will mean we run out less quickly.


Miv said...

Although not immediately apparent, the more interesting aspect is the removal of plastics.

Many people underestimate the far reaching effects of this precious "oil" stuff. When you follow it all through, you realise that there is a lot more than simply fuel/lubrication applications.

Chris said...

It's weird, but maybe we're not all that knowledgeable on the fuel situation to begin with. Oil companies have people who are paid to keep track of this stuff every waking minute. As much as we want alternative fuel sources, I find it hard to imagine that the oil companies are intentionally holding us back for more profit, when there's clearly a lot to be made from other options.

In other words, until I actually see evidence that the oil companies really are evil cartoonish super-villains rolling around in piles of money, I'm just going to assume there's a lot more at stake than simply running out of oil.

WriTerGuy said...

The problem with alternative fuel sources is that they are in no way competitive with oil. Oil is energy that came to earth a long time ago and has been serendipitously condensed and cooked into an eminently usable form. Alternative fuels need to be cooked. Hard for raw to compete with cooked.

I don't find the question of how we live with no oil to be very interesting; I think that situation is a long way off. I find the question of how we live with less oil to be very interesting. I think the oil companies do deserve blame for making it so; they've actively kept us from preparing for that day, which may be here or nearly so. What does that day look like?

John said...

It's true that oil is our most powerful fuel source at the moment, but it won't last forever, and as the supply dwindles, the prices will rise. Fewer people will be able to afford plane travel at first, then cars, then buses. And yes, plastics will become more expensive too. I don't think it would be a means of squeezing us for more profit - just a fact of the supply becoming more scarce and thus more expensive to obtain to sell to the public.

By some calculations, we may run out of oil within our lifetime.