Editorial - Peak Oil


By Bruce Rhodes


November 3, 2004 – Green Party of Ontario e-Newsletter


Peak oil. This term is appearing frequently on the radar screen of late. To quote from PeakOil.org, “peak oil is the point in time when extraction of oil from the earth reaches its highest point and then begins to decline. We won't be able to say with certainty when we have reached peak oil until after the fact. Many experts say we have already reached the peak. Others say not yet, but within the next few years.”


Oil, and its precarious future, is the subject of recent books (The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World, by Paul Roberts; The Oil Age Is Over: What to Expect As the World Runs Out of Cheap Oil, 2005-2050, by Matt Savinar; It’s the Crude, Dude, by Linda McQuaig) and television documentaries (Over a Barrel, by CBC). On October 28, a number of Green Party people joined a packed house at OISE for a screening of a new Canadian documentary, The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (discussed at the end of this issue). A letter by Frank de Jong (also in this issue) addresses the need for governments to deal with the auto industry in ways that respond to our being at or near peak oil capacity. Finally, National Geographic weighed in with a cover story, “The End of Cheap Oil”, in its June edition.


It is a safe bet that the peak oil issue will be with us for some time. What do we do about it? The sooner we learn to “live locally”, according to many who have studied the issue, the more likely we are to insulate ourselves from the effects of anticipated skyrocketing oil and natural gas prices.