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Technology & Innovation

Approaching Peak Oil

Energy derived from oil reaches, quite literally, every aspect of our lives. From the food we eat, to how we move ourselves around, without oil, our lives would look very differently.

What’s the Latest Development?

Experts agree that we have already plucked most of the low-hanging oil fruit and that within the next two decades, demand will begin to outstrip supply. Oil production levels have been flat for about six years but demand has been rising—this is essentially the formula for peak oil. The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2012 the world will demand 91 million barrels of oil per day to function, an increase of 2.7 million barrels per day over today’s demand. Cheap access to oil is fueling an unsustainable way of life. 

What’s the Big Idea?

What will life look like when demand for oil outpaces its supply? While the oil industry says new discoveries will satiate demand, of the 70,000 oil fields currently being drilled, 100 of them supply more than half of Earth’s oil supply. These 100 fields are aging. Transportation, by far the biggest user of oil, will be greatly affected. Urban studies professor Anthony Perl says: “We’ve built a perpetual motion machine, and act like we’ll be able to travel further, faster, and infinitely… Sooner or later, people are going to start wondering how they will get from place to place without their cars.”


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