baseless opinions waxing
Peak oil will be a non-event
Personally, I don't think anything will happen. I look at "peak oil" in the very same way I looked at the "Year 2000 crisis" in 1999. "Peak oil" will be a non-event. We will see prices for gasoline go up, yes, and there may be some short term spikes that are a little disruptive, but overall I believe we will work this out in a natural way.
The very simple explanation for why this will happen can be summarized in about 15 words: As oil gets more expensive, other technologies will compete on price and replace oil.
Here is the simplest example. Right now, in 2005, we are about to reach the point where you can buy a tanker car full of soybean oil for about the same price as a tanker car full of diesel fuel. With a very simple reactor you can turn the vegetable oil into biodiesel. That puts a cap on the price of diesel fuel. Petroleum diesel prices cannot increase much above the price of biodiesel, or people will stop buying petroleum diesel.
Marshall Brain and his market driven opinions have been making the rounds. Not much content in his post, a lot of bowing and scraping to soybeans. Marshall: It is all about the energy returned on energy invested. If we want it positive, we're going to do it Brazilian style - that is - poor farmers farming by hand. I can see the boomers lining up to be serfs now. Sounds like honest work to me. Maybe the Indians will do it cheaper.
Then there is that useless Y2K analogy, one I've seen pop up before.
Y2K was a serious software meta-bug that was for the most part fixed by financial institutions at great expense. It had the potential to wreak havoc and melt down financial markets for a few months, which was why, many years before the year 2000, the investment was made to fix it. The Y2K scenario also happened to raise hysteria levels here and there due to a byteless conjunction with the western calendar.
"Peak Oil" -- or as I call it, Peak Oil, has no software fix. A bevy of aging cobol hackers will not fix our dependance on liquid fuels.