Around the world, 70% of people believe in peak oil, the theory that says the supply of oil is about as abundant as it will ever be, so you better get used to paying more and more as the drip trickles to a stop.
In the U.S., according to the Reuters report, 76% believe oil is running out and, further, most believed the U.S. government is blind to the problem and failing to adequately prepare for a future when oil is scarce and even more expensive than the $117 per barrel record hit last week.
What Is Peak Oil?
Oil is a finite resource it is produced by subterranean pressure over the course of millions of years. So what we've got is all we've got. Oil drillers go for the easy and most profitable crude first the stuff that requires the least energy to pump out of the ground and the least refining to make into a usable product. When that is gone, what's left is harder and more expensive to get at and deliver to the market.
The peak oil theory says that when we've pumped about half the crude in the world, demand for oil keeps rising but the supply falters. Maybe it hits an "undulating plateau." Maybe it falls in fits and starts. Maybe it drops like a stone. Off a cliff. But it falls leaving a widening gap between supply and demand.
That will not only mean higher gas prices, but higher prices for just about everything because petroleum is the basis for many of the products we use. If oil runs short before there are alternatives available, expect big geopolitical shifts as nations vie for control of the oil reserves that remain.
Are We There Yet?
Some say we've reached, or are near to reaching, that point the peak, when the earth's geologic formations no longer yield enough oil fast enough to meet the world's ever-growing demand. After all, most nations outside the Middle East have already peaked, according to the Government Accountability Office. The United States peaked in 1970 and now pumps half of what it did 35 years ago.
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