Monday, January 4, 2010

Peak Oil and Energy Security

"Peak Oil" and "Energy Security"

Peak Oil folk complain that governments refuse to endorse the concept. Governments are wise to do so while the meaning of "Peak Oil" remains slippery. Peak Oil folk want to claim that Peak Oil is a mathematical truism. And it is true that when you use up a finite resource then there must be a month (or year or other period) of peak production. Then Peak Oil proponents also want to claim that Peak Oil is a serious problem. Unfortunately they are trying to have it both ways. If the concept is just the mathematical truism then it is not, in itself, important. The peak might arrive because of increasing production problems, but it might also come because the economy finds better sources of energy and zooms off leaving oil behind. As Sheik Yemani said "The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones". The mathematical truism can't be good or bad. So the real Peak Oil claim is a more complex claim about the real world. But even that might not matter much to individual countries, as long as they get their oil one way or another. Indeed we saw when the oil price skyrocketed in 2008 that Americans stopped recreational driving, but Malaysian fishermen were forced to idle their boats because the maximum price they could get for fish from their local customers couldn't cover the diesel fuel costs.

What governments do talk about is "Energy Security". If only we could get them to think more clearly about that. No its not just another commodity.