United we stand?
According to a German military think tank, there is some possibility that peak oil could hit as early as this year, meaning that within 15 – 30 years “the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse.”
Fortunately, the International Energy Agency claims supplies are adequate through at least 2030. Presumably then, we'd have another 15 – 30 years to end foreign oil dependence.
I wonder, however, does peak oil even matter?
Yesterday, I read something about peak auto sales that reminded me of the role $4.00+ gas played in the auto bailout. Rising gas prices, not just a lack of consumer credit – especially the bad credit used in predatory lending – ultimately also helped hammer auto sales far down from peak levels. Since 80 percent of consumers use gasoline prices as a key factor in auto buying, higher gas prices helped to create a glut of unwanted product, while also souring consumer confidence. Consequently, our dependency upon cheap foreign oil helped bankrupt the US auto industry. Yet, how dependent we remain.
Sadly, for a few days now tensions in many Muslim countries are fuming as the possibility of Quran burning looms a possibility here in the US, and possibly other places. Tensions between Iran and Israel appear near a tipping point. Palestine will never recognize the Jewish state of Israel. It seems it would take little to set off this powder keg.
Therefore, might not some other event ignite much higher gas prices long before peak oil even has a chance to cause any harm?
If such an event happened, could the US auto industry survive a 20 percent decrease in auto sales today? Could the US economy afford the sudden unemployment of several million auto-related workers, coupled with many tens of billions, minimally, in defaulted pension and health care benefits if this time voters demanded outright bankruptcy? Is the US auto industry too big to fail and too coupled to cheap foreign oil?
Some say yes, some say no. Does that even matter?
By 2025, I'd be willing to bet, that America could be independent of foreign oil via an investment that would more than pay for itself. Sure that might require battery advocates to accept an interim and temporary increase in natural gas vehicles, for instance, but it would also require drill, drill, drill folks to think far outside of their box as well. Nonetheless, I'd bet a compromise exists that a very significant majority of Americans would approve of, and that would also make America much stronger.
Perhaps power is easier to maintain when the people are divided, but I'd also bet that if the people aren't soon brought together on US energy policy, there will be far less power for the politicians, media and special interests to fight over, possibly well before peak oil settles the debate.