Have you heard about the theory of peak oil
I first read about this in a Washington Post op-ed about reducing greenhouse gas emissions that was published in 1998. The author said you didn't need to do anything because oil consumption would peak in 2005 and it would be downhill from there.
It's more or less a theory of when (versus if). Exxon-Mobil says decades, Chevron Texaco says 2011 +/- 4 years, T Boone Pickens said it happened on the 23rd of November 2005. I heard Mr Pickens talk about it on NPR last November when he announced it, and didn't think much about it at the time.
Yet, after thinking about this for the last 9 months or so, there is a major problem in that a collision of sorts may be about to happen. That collision is that as oil production could be peaking, while the demand is continuing to increase. So the problems will begin very soon after the peak. There doesn't seem to be any realistic replacement for oil since even with gas at $3.10 a gallon, it's still a generally cheap energy source, it's so flexible in use, easy to transport, and is used in so many areas including fertilizers and pesticides. It fuels the agriculture industry and created suburbia.
There are very few products in existence that can triple in price in a short period of time and have no decrease in demand. Economics teach us that as prices increase, demand decreases. But that's not happening with oil.
I'm not in anyway trying to sound like I know anything about this, but I think the time has come to begin conservation efforts in earnest, for manufacturers to make efficient products, and everyone to replace those ancient incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps. Because if we don't prepare for this inevitability, then things might be very grim.
Below are two links that discuss this theory. The second one I read last March, and got me thinking about this problem.
As I said, I know nothing about oil. One thing that amazes me is how much there is in the world. There is so much that I have a hard time understanding how it was produced by some microscopic microbe. There had to be some incredible number of those microbes if oil came from them.
The Russians have a theory that oil is a naturally occurring product produced deep in the earth and that we'll never run out. That theory is call abiotic oil. But has anyone heard of old oil fields refilling themselves?
On a different note, I was talking to my dental hygienist about this (believe it or not you can talk with hands in your mouth
and she said that her uncle in Texas has oil wells that the government won't let them pump, and that she has other relatives in Oklahoma that aren't allowed to pump their oil. She thought that the government was trying to save the oil for later.
Similarly, in the late 70's, early 80's, the Japanese bought huge amounts of coal from the US, and buried it for later use.
More links on Peak Oil can be here