Analysts are predicting that by 2030 or earlier the world could peak. Forward-thinking policy-makers are beginning to realize that society must have alternative plans ready in order to move beyond the era of cheap and abundant oil. With 90 percent of the world’s transport currently dependent on oil, changes to the status quo will be drastic indeed.
Those studying the issue estimate the world’s remaining untapped oil supply to be somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 billion barrels, with a peak in production likely to occur sometime between 2015 and 2030, after which the resource’s scarcity will start to take a toll on all aspects of modern society.
According to Matthew Simmons, an investment banker and former adviser to the Bush administration, peak oil production is upon us today and can only trail off moving forward. “If the world’s oil supply does peak, the world’s issues start to look very different. There really aren’t any good energy solutions for bridges, to buy some time, from oil and gas to the alternatives,” Simmons says. “The only alternative right now is to shrink our economies.”
Long before the last drop of oil is produced, society will have had to commit to one or more of several possible energy futures. And the momentous decisions we take in the next few years will determine whether our heirs thank or curse us for the energy choices we bequeath to them.