The USS Quad Damage

Peak Oil

Peak Oil makes sense, is all I'm sayin'.

The amount of time it takes to eat a grain of rice with chopsticks increases exponentially as you reduce the amount of total rice in a bowl. This is because when there’s a lot of rice, you can clump it together and eat big chunks, whereas when the rice starts going away you have fewer grains of rice to clump together, which means less rice that you can grab. You either need greater skill to handle the last few grains of rice, or you just leave them.

In that sense, rice has a “half-life”, a term coined for radioactive materials which will only lose half their radioactivity in a particular period of time. This gives radioactive materials (and rice) that exponentially decaying curve that we’ve seen so often.

The theory behind peak oil is as with rice. In the beginning, due to the sheer amount of oil, it’s easy to get at the oil itself. At a certain point, however, you either need to get better at extracting the oil, or you won’t get as much for the effort, even though there may still be plenty of oil down the tube. At about the time that your increasing extraction meets the decaying, you reach a peak. The idea of this “peak oil” (the catch phrase) has gained recent attention when some dude came to this country talking about it. Four corners had a program about it just tonight, and I’m guessing with petrol prices, this will only be mentioned all the more.

What’s quite surprising is how readily practically everyone in the report, from the scientists to the oil producers to the businessmen, accepted the idea that while we’d be meeting oil demand, that we’d have to pay a huge price for it. Everyone except Saudi Arabia, who are all "trrrrust me, we khave oil coming out of ourrrr frrreaking earrrrrs."

I’m a little worried about how oil prices will affect me directly. Not a lot, because not only will everyone else be screwed like I am, but I’m hoping clever living strategies will limit the problems this will cause. After all, the biggest use of oil for me is petrol (directly). I don’t know why I’d be consuming large quantities of diesel, wax, rubber, or the various other hydrocarbons present in crude oil.

Indirectly, I’m shitting my pants. Again, LPG, petrol (gasoline) and diesel are the most important products of crude oil. Everything else has some sort of substitute which big companies could switch to in case things go very wrong. This may have issues, but in the end I don’t expect that they will be horrible. Petrol, diesel, and LPG have the problem that they’re perishable unlike things like plastics, oils, etc. which (at least in theory) can be recycled.

This affects food and (to some extent) electricity, shipping and other types of travel, etc. I haven’t really begun to think of the implications, but the problem is that it could cause a severe depression that we have no way out of. I’ve never been in really tough times. I’m sure that years of playing video games haven’t done all that much in preparing me for what’s to come.