Originally Posted by GordMay
Peak oil theory states: that any finite resource, (including oil), will have a beginning, middle, and an end of production, and at some point it will reach a level of maximum output.
Although there is no general agreement about the date that world oil production will (or has) peak(ed), there is no doubt that it will, but we won't actually know until it is in our rearview mirror.
The eventual and painful shift to different sources of energy (the start of the post-oil age) does not begin when the last drop of oil is sucked from the ground. It begins when producers are unable to economically continue increasing their output to meet rising demand.
While this is mathematically obvious, and I believed it the 70s, like everyone else, there seem to be flaws in the underlying assumptions:
* Reservoir oil vs. source rock. The 70s peak was based on drilling assumptions that were incorrect. This goes back to our inability to predict far in the future. With the development of fracing and recovery methods that will be invented in the future, I do not believe we have any reliable notion of actual reserves. I suspect we will not run out in any economically meaningful sense for well over a century probably 2. Further, as new tech comes on line, there are in effect, new "peak" production possibilities. Not simple.
efficiency will improve. In part because of tech, and in part because of a shift to smaller cars (they are still stupid big--no excuse for driving anything that doesn't get 40 MPG unless it is a commercial
vehicle or used for hauling). However, this DOES NOT mean we will use much less oil, since there will be more vehicles, because efficient vehicles will remain affordable even as prices rise.
* Some of the shift to alternative energy and more efficient cars will have nothing to do with economics. I know I have progressively bought more efficient cars over the years, just because I dislike waste. People will simply change some habits because they think they should. No, I don't expect everyone to change, but in a generation or 2 I'm sure attitudes will change. Perhaps, someday, a car will not be a status symbol but just a wasy to get from here to there. Again, too hard to predict.
Yes, supply vs. demand is undeniable, but there will be some many variables over the next century as new production methods are invented, new source rock found, and alternative energy begins to overlap as to make analysis impossible. At least in any practical sense.
I actually believe there will still be oil in the ground as we move away from oil for transportation and heating
. It will be because other technologies very gradually become cheaper. We are seeing this in many areas and the trend will very slowly increase. Very slowly, and too late to prevent warming.