Magazine article The Futurist

The End of Oil

Magazine article The Futurist

The End of Oil

Article excerpt

New energy sources and policies--including a carbon tax--are needed immediately as the world runs out of oil, warns environmental writer Paul Roberts.

Demand for oil worldwide will grow from 77 million barrels a day currently to 140 million barrels by 2020, Roberts projects.

"Oil companies and oil states will need to discover, produce, refine, and bring to market 140 million new barrels of oil every 24 hours, day after day, year after year, without fail," he writes in The End of Oil. "Simply building that much new production capacity (to say nothing of maintaining it or defending it) will mean spending perhaps a trillion dollars."

Within 30 years, the world will have used up all the oil that is readily accessible, but the race to develop new and clean energy sources--such as hydrogen--is competing with the more basic need to produce enough energy of any kind. The situation is exacerbated by Western consumers' refusal to modify energy-dependent lifestyles and companies' and governments' failure to alter oil-consumption habits.

Roberts envisions a "bridge economy," a transitional phase designed to arrest the worst of current energy trends while allowing more flexibility in eventually creating a new energy system. He outlines three near-term objectives that would have to be implemented by governments to support this transitional economy.

1. Expand natural gas imports. Gas will be the most important fuel of this bridge economy, slowly replacing oil and coal as an energy source. …

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