This is an 8 page article talking about how near we are to oil depletion. It is worth reading. The battle against urban sprawl is helpful but does not go far enough. We need local research projects in low energy living. An Ecomindium project, which is a small apartment house could have about 10 different experimental projects designed to lower energy and fertilizer consumption. We must start using sewage as fertilizer. The universities and schools would have to participate.
Another project that should be supported is the mass planting of trees and food plants. A lot of research is necessary on how to do this at lowest cost. Wood is a natural resource that we can create. Trees can reduce Global Warming, furnish fuel for the future, and give food for humans and animals. A lot of fruit trees, nut trees, and perennial food plants such as asparagus, berries, hazel nuts, and rhubarb should be planted first in parks and then everywhere. Such plants will support wildlife if nothing else.
If you don't want to open the attachment, the article is at
Introduction by Prospect: The weightless economy still has dirty old
oil pumping through its veins, as the recent fuel blockades demonstrated,
says David Fleming. In the next ten years, the growing demand for oil will
permanently overtake a shrinking supply -- playing havoc with price. Why
are western governments doing nothing to prepare?
Beneath the seabed off the coast of Saudi Arabia is an oil field called Manifa. It is giant, and its riches are almost untapped. There is, however, a snag. Its oil is heavy with vanadium and hydrogen sulphide, making it virtually unusable. One day the technology may be in place to remove these contaminants, but it will not be for a long time, and when, or if, it becomes possible, it will do no more than slightly reduce the rate at which the world's oil supplies slip away towards depletion. Even this field has one advantage over the massive reserves of oil which middle east suppliers are said to hold, ready to secure the future of industrial civilisation. Unlike those fantasy fields, Manifa does actually exist.
In region after region, the story is of ageing fields, of the wrong sort of oil, of nitrogen being pumped into wells to keep up the flow, of new areas (such as east of Greenland) turning out to be dry. Britain's North Sea oil is at its peak now. The giant fields in Alaska, the former Soviet Union, Mexico, Venezuela and Norway are all past their peak. The US's own oil supplies have been declining since 1970 and now account for less than half its needs. There is a possibility of some big finds off the coast of west Africa, but their development is still years away, and they are not on a scale capable of making a difference. The only producers with an oil resource which may be capable of keeping oil flowing into the world market at a roughly constant level are the middle east Opec five--Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. And even in these countries, the closer you look, the less they have to offer.
Most of Saudi Arabia's reserves of oil are held in one huge field, the Ghawar. It has been pumped since 1948 and, not surprisingly, it is showing signs of exhaustion with its southern end now flooding with water. Saudi Arabia can keep its production roughly constant for another seven to ten years before it too has used up half its total oil resource and rolls over towards depletion. Then it will turn to smaller fields, producing smaller amounts, followed by poor-quality fields with real problems, such as Manifa.
Things are not much better in the other Gulf states. Iran, which used to be the young giant of the oil business, could not now sustain a higher output for long, and there are suspicions that some of the production credited to Iran is piped over the border from Iraq. Kuwait and one of the emirates, Abu Dhabi, could increase production and may well do so, but their reserves are small, relative to world demand.
Only one country has the potential for a serious increase in output, on a scale which could make a difference. The bad news is: that country is Iraq. Iraq's oil geology is not fully explored, but there are some well-informed guesses. One estimate is that there are 110 billion barrels there--equal to more than three British North Seas, or more than one third of the total resource once possessed by Saudi Arabia. This oil could not be made immediately available, but it is on a sca