Found this editorial at the Arizona Republic. It pretty closely reflects my views of what's happening in the 3D world. Don't forget to stock up on water purification tablets.
End of the world as we know it
You might feel fine, but high oil cost, scarcity mean American Empire is about to come crashing down
Guy R. McPherson
University of Arizona professor
Apr. 6, 2008 12:00 AM
Peak oil spells the end of civilization. And, if it's not already too
late, perhaps it will prevent the extinction of our species.
M. King Hubbert, a petroleum geologist employed by Shell Oil Co.,
described peak oil in 1956. Production of crude oil, like the
production of many non-renewable resources, follows a bell-shaped
curve. The top of the curve is termed "peak oil," or "Hubbert's peak,"
and it represents the halfway point for production.
The bell-shaped curve applies at all levels, from field to country to
planet. After discovery, production ramps up relatively quickly. But
when the light, sweet crude on top of the field runs out, increased
energy and expense are required to extract the underlying heavy, sour
crude. At some point, the energy required to extract a barrel of oil
exceeds the energy contained in barrel of oil, so the pumps shut down.
Most of the world's oil pumps are about to shut down.
have sufficient supply to keep the world running for 30 years or so, at
the current level of demand. But that's irrelevant because the days of
inexpensive oil are behind us. And the American Empire absolutely
demands cheap oil. Never mind the 3,000-mile Caesar salad to which
we've become accustomed. Cheap oil forms the basis for the 12,000-mile
supply chain underlying the "just-in-time" delivery of plastic toys
There goes next year's iPod.
In 1956, Hubbert predicted the continental United States would peak in
1970. He was correct, and the 1970s gave us a small, temporary taste of
the sociopolitical and economic consequences of expensive oil.
We passed the world oil peak in 2005, and we've been easing down the
other side by acquiring oil at the point of a gun - actually, guns are
the smallest of the many weapons we're using - paying more for oil and
destroying one culture after another as the high price of crude oil
forces supply disruptions and power outages in Third World countries.
The world peaked at 74.3 million barrels per day in May 2005. The
two-year decline to 73.2 million barrels per day produced a doubling of
the price of crude. Later this year, we fall off the oil-supply cliff,
with global supply plummeting below 70 million barrels/day. Oil at
merely $100 per barrel will seem like the good old days.
Within a decade, we'll be staring down the barrel of a crisis: Oil at
$400 per barrel brings down the American Empire, the project of
globalization and water coming through the taps. Never mind happy
motoring through the never-ending suburbs in the Valley of the Sun. In
a decade, unemployment will be approaching 100 percent, inflation will
be running at 1,000 percent and central heating will be a pipe dream.
In short, this country will be well on its way to the post-industrial Stone Age.
After all, no alternative energy sources scale up to the level of a few
million people, much less the 6.5 billion who currently occupy Earth.
Oil is necessary to extract and deliver coal and natural gas. Oil is
needed to produce solar panels and wind turbines, and to maintain the
Ninety percent of the oil consumed in this country is burned by
airplanes, ships, trains and automobiles. You can kiss goodbye
groceries at the local big-box grocery store: Our entire system of food
production and delivery depends on cheap oil.
If you're alive in a decade, it will be because you've figured out how to forage locally.
The death and suffering will be unimaginable. We have come to depend on
cheap oil for the delivery of food, water, shelter and medicine. Most
of us are incapable of supplying these four key elements of personal
survival, so trouble lies ahead when we are forced to develop means of
acquiring them that don't involve a quick trip to Wal-Mart.
On the other hand, the forthcoming cessation of economic growth is
truly good news for the world's species and cultures. In addition, the
abrupt halt of fossil-fuel consumption may slow the warming of our
planetary home, thereby preventing our extinction at our own hand.
Our individual survival, and our common future, depends on our ability
to quickly make other arrangements. We can view this as a personal
challenge, or we can take the Hemingway out. The choice is ours.
For individuals interested in making other arrangements, it's time to
start acquiring myriad requisite skills. It is far too late to save
civilization for 300 million Americans, much less the rest of the
planet's citizens, but we can take joy in a purpose-filled, intimate
It's time to push away from the shore, to let the winds of change catch the sails of our leaky boat.
It's time to trust in ourselves, our neighbors and the Earth that sustains us all.
Painful though it might be, it's time to abandon the cruise ship of empire in exchange for a lifeboat.
Guy R. McPherson is a professor of conservation biology at the University of Arizona.