Oil At $100 A Barrel Will Do More To Save The Planet Than All The Wind Farms In The World  

Posted by Big Gav

Hamish McRae at The Independent argues that a soaring oil price is a good thing for the environment (echoing the 'early peak is a good peak' arguments made by Thom Hartmann and Noam Chomsky). Its good to see more people making the green argument that the key to dealing with the peak is continuously increasing efficiency.

The oil price is the outward and visible sign of an energy market under strain. At close to $60 a barrel, it is approaching its highest level in real terms as well as being the highest in current dollars. It may not be quite up to the $80 peak it touched in the early 1980s but the present levels look more likely to be sustained. This is because the high price is driven by strong demand rather than restrictions on supply by Opec.

You can catch some feeling for this in the new edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. World energy use grew by 4.3 per cent last year, which is the largest increase ever in absolute terms and the largest percentage increase since 1984.

...

Consider a world where oil remains not just at its present levels but rises above $100 and shows every sign of staying there. If we want to increase our living standards we would start to ask whether we want to spend our money on energy or on something more agreeable. Expensive energy would give a huge drive for people, companies and governments to save it wherever they possibly could.

More than this, if economies are to go on delivering better standards of living, the only way to do so will be to become "greener" - to do the opposite of China, which is using more energy per unit of output, by increasing output without increasing energy use.

What we cannot know is whether the oil price is already sufficiently high to force radical change. On the other hand we can be pretty sure that if it isn't, then it will go still higher. We shall, I suspect, see some brutal movements in energy prices in the next few years, particularly if the world is indeed close to the peak of its oil production.

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