The Definition Of "Peak Oil" And What This Means For The US

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The term "Peak Oil" refers to a "peak" in oil production.  Oil is a finite resource, meaning that there is a limited supply.  The oil that is currently being drilled to and pumped out of the Earth's crust and mantle in locations all over the Earth is not going to come endlessly out of the ground continuously for ever and ever, the end.  This seems to be the fairytale that most people that work in and profit from the oil industry, as well as people that use this resource, believe.  The fact is that the supply of oil that lies in pools under the Earth's surface is limited, and we are running out of oil and running out of time.  Here is the definition of Peak Oil according to Wikipedia:

Peak Oil and supply of this resource is difficult to determine and measure because it is largely uncertain exactly how much oil still lies under the Earth's surface.  However, what we definitely do know is that it literally takes the Earth millions of years to "create" oil from ancient decomposed matter, and so if or when all of the current oil supplied by the Earth is pumped out of the ground, it will therefore take millions of more years for the Earth to replenish, or create more of, this resource.

Many of the world's developed countries such as the US have an insatiable demand for this resource, especially to fuel their extraordinarily large automobiles.  With many other countries such as China and India emerging as world economic powerhouses, this then would mean that many more people will be able to afford automobiles and the oil-based resources that fuel them.  It is easily predictable then that demand for oil will rapidly be increasing as we head into the future for this reason.  So what happens if the demand for a resource steadily increases while the supply of that resource steadily decreases, such as is obviously predictable to happen as it concerns oil at some point in the near future (or perhaps at the present)?  According to the "laws" of supply and demand (think economics class), this would then mean that the price of that resource would steadily rise.

If you have ever had to create a budget that includes the fuel for your automobile, then you know how much that rises in the price of gasoline and/or diesel can affect your whole budget, and your personal life in general.  It is obviously predictable then that citizens of developed countries such as the US that own and depend on automobiles for transportation are going to be feeling "the pain at the pump," as the news commentators say; and this "pain at the pump" will be directly caused by "peak oil."

So if something that you are doing is causing you "pain," then what should be the obvious response?  I would say that the obvious response should be to stop doing what is causing the pain (to do otherwise would be the definition of insanity by the way).  But how can Americans stop pumping so much gasoline and/or diesel that is produced from oil?  You might have noticed that if you live in the US and live in the suburbs, or even in the city, that you have to drive to get almost anywhere or to do almost anything.  Well, as a New Urbanist, my response would be to look at your built environment and see what can be changed in order to make it so that you do not have to drive almost everywhere in order to do almost everything, and then budget for a nice bicycle and pair of walking shoes instead of gasoline and/or diesel for your automobile.  If Americans could make their urban centers and communities more walkable/pedestrian friendly, especially through creating more pedestrian thoroughfares and mixed-use development that allows different land uses such as residences and businesses to be located closer together, then we will not even have to feel the "pain at the pump" because we will not even have to drive anywhere.

Also see my Blog titled How A Traditional Agricultural City Functions: The Case Of San Isidro, Costa Rica by clicking on Dylan's Blog below.


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