Energy Archives

August 2, 2005

The Oil Depletion Protocol

(I'm traveling right now, off on a brief energy-related scenario project, so my postings will be a bit spare. Please let me know if you'd like to see more detailed examinations of any of the issues posted about this week. --Jamais)

Whether the oil peak happens over the next few months or next few decades, it's widely acknowledged that global conventional production of petroleum will see a sharp decline soon, with natural gas following thereafter. We know, in broad strokes, what needs to be done to keep that decline from turning into a global economic and political disaster, and the major recommendations -- such as an aggressive shift to alternative energies and transportation technologies, widespread adoption of higher-efficiency building designs, greater reliance on organic/local/smart agriculture techniques, and the like -- parallel what's needed to forestall the worst effects of global warming-induced climate disruption.

So how do we do it?

Richard Heinberg has a fascinating proposal, one that could reduce the risk of oil wars and economic ruin. It's simple to understand, and its logic is compelling. Heinberg, a professor at the New College of California and author of Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World,calls his proposal the Oil Depletion Protocol, as it is a formalization of what is already happening worldwide: oil reserves are declining, and all too soon demand will overtake production.

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