our winter of discontent
The Peak-Oil Crisis: The Storms of August
As the storm moved towards shore, first the offshore oil platforms in its path were badly mauled. Some 30 rigs were sunk including hubs that concentrate and prepare the oil for transport to shore. We do not yet have a complete assessment of the damage to the undersea network of pipelines that brings the oil to shore, but if the damage done by much weaker Hurricane Ivan last year is any guide it should be considerable. In the opinion of one knowledgeable commentator, it will take years to bring production back to pre-hurricane levels.
Now we get to the key question of what all this means for those of us living here on the East Coast and who are hopelessly dependent on Gulf produced or refined oil for our lifestyles and livelihoods.
First, there will be an unprecedented natural gas problem this winter with prices increasing several fold and there will most likely be serious shortages. There is simply no way to replace the shut-in Gulf production in time for the winter heating season.
For the United States , borrowing our way out of the current predicament without any serious conservation measures (such as a 55 mph speed limit or rationing) certainly can't last long.
Several years ago Kenneth Deffeyes, one of the leading peak oil theorists, facetiously selected Thanksgiving 2005 as the exact date the world would reach Hubbert's peak. You know, it is starting to look as if he just might be right.
Ramp up that ethanol any time, people. Come Dunder, come Blixem.
Santa has a big ol' lump a coal for America and Europe this Christmas -- literally, coal -- that is what the U.S. has left in copious supply when the energy squeeze elucidated the above article by Tom Whipple hits. It remains an open question whether the stockings will be transported with care to your local big block store, in the face of $3.00 a gallon gasoline and rising.
All the alternatives are out there. Elephant grass? Get cracking, it takes more than a few clicks of the sliderule to make it work. Solar? Fab that silicon. Wind -- requires steel, requires energy, you get what you pay for, eventually. Nuclear energy? Feh. Don't shit in the well, I say.
All the alternatives are out there, presently in quantities less than we need, with a falling supply of the cheap stuff.
So if you live up North (and I'm looking at you too, U.K.) -- better make sure you are stocked up on sweaters this winter. Money aside, there may not be enough natural gas to go around this year.
If worst comes to worst, you can always sleep in your tauntaun's belly. Of course, that trick only works once, as the Easter Islanders discovered to their chagrin.