Why ‘Peak Oil’ Has Yet to Outlive its Usefulness  

Posted by Big Gav in

Rob Hopkins at Transition Culture has a post on why the peak oil debate is still worthwhile (and even more so if you are like me and don't think the peak as arrived yet) - Whither Resilience and Transition? Why ‘Peak Oil’ Has Yet to Outlive its Usefulness.

It’s been a fascinating few days. Early in the week, Nate Hagens and Sharon Astyk were suggesting the perhaps the term ‘peak oil’ has outlived its usefulness, given that we have almost certainly peaked, and that the peak oil movement needs to shift its focus. It echoed something I wrote a while ago, likening ASPO and the wider peak oil movement to a Loch Ness Monster Society, dedicated to establishing the existence of this fabled creature. They organise conferences, scientific searches of the loch, write papers and journals, and then one day, an entire, intact Loch Ness Monster washes up on the shore. Then what? They have no reason to exist any longer, their whole raison d’etre vanishes overnight.

However, I don’t think it is that straightforward. For me, what we are seeing, taking a step back and looking in the longer time context, is a series of pulses. Peak oil won’t go away as an issue, it pulses in and out of the collective consciousness and hopefully will increasingly come to underpin Government policy-making. In July 2008, peak oil was pulsing as the oil price hit record highs, and issues around economics were in the background. Now, economics has been the key pulse for the last year or so, and peak oil has been pushed off the side of the stage until the last few days. If Colin Campbell’s original analysis, elaborated by David Strahan in his talk at the 2009 Transition Network conference, is correct, what looks likely is that the two will pulse alternately, as any kind of economic recovery increases demand, which raises the oil prices, which dampens economic recovery, which reduces demand and lowers prices, which increases demand, and so on and so on. Until the connection between the two becomes clear, they will continue to pulse alternately.

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