Future Is about Living within Our Means

The Journal (Newcastle, England), June 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

Future Is about Living within Our Means


Byline: ANDREW LAPPING

IHAD a very disturbing experience last week at the local petrol station. Filling up the Range Rover, I watched the meter on the pump sail beyond pounds 100, finally settling at pounds 105.

But no, this wasn't even a full tank. The pump simply wasn't capable of delivering fuel beyond this point. Presumably nobody thought there was a car on the road that could absorb so much fuel, or more likely, contemplated petrol hitting pounds 5 a gallon.

Why is the price of petrol so high and how can the average driver afford it? Looking further ahead, what will be the long-term consequences of a dwindling and more expensive resource on how we go about our daily lives?

It's all to do with "Peak Oil", a term we are likely to hear a lot more of in the next few years. It's the point in time when maximum production is reached, after which it enters terminal decline. In 1956, an economist predicted that the United States would reach Peak Oil in 1970. Few believed him, though he has since proved to be correct. Since then, most oil producing countries have crossed the great divide, leaving the developed world with the challenge of adapting to a new order.

The recent fuel protests, sparked by big price spikes in oil, driven by a production shortage, highlight how we have failed to prepare for a scarcity of black gold.

What are the long-term consequences of a declining supply of cheap oil? I found an interesting report on the internet, which concluded that: "The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system.

"The decline in fossil fuels will influence almost all aspects of our daily life. The now-beginning transition period probably has its own rules, which are valid only during this phase. Things might happen which we have never experienced before and which we may never experience again once this transition period has ended."

The report suggests our very way of life is about to enter a period of massive change and that, beyond the transitory phase, the world will return to local, rather than globalised, scale. …

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