March 20, 2005April 17, 2005Meeting Report

April 1, 2005

Phil and Karla LaZier

Peak Oil

Phil and Karla LaZierAccording to the website, 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." There is some disagreement among experts about whether that moment has passed. However, the most optimistic see it as happening, at the latest, within the next few years.

Kurt Vonnegut, noted author and Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, noted last year (in The End is Near, In These Times, October 29, 2004) that we have "now all but destroyed this once salubrious planet by making thermodynamic whoopee with fossil fuels." He finishes the article with the following, "We have squandered our planet’s resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so now there isn’t going to be one. So there goes the Junior Prom, but that’s not the half of it."

Phil's talk dealt with the inevitable decline in crude oil production due to the rapid depletion of reserves. He showed a documentary produced by Mike Ruppert on this subject. Ruppert, whose website is at http://fromthewilderness.com, included interviews with Matthew Simmons and others. He mentioned that N. King Hubbard, an oil geologist, predicted in 1956 that American oil production would peak in the 1970s and that world oil production would peak in the 1990s. Although ridiculed at the time, he turned out to be right about American oil production. Hubbard’s prediction of peak world production in the 1990s didn’t come to pass, thanks to the oil shocks of the 1970s.

The subsequent discussion was led by both Phil and Karla, with Karla adding much to what Phil had presented. We discussed the implications of the inevitable depletion of oil reserves. In addition to the obvious effects on the transportation sector there are indirect effects in other industries. Fertilizers and pesticides are made from fossil fuels. Gasoline and diesel fuels are needed for the production and distribution of foodstuffs. The scarcity will mean higher prices for whatever fuel is available and the effects will ripple through the economy.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, Recorder,
with additional material from the
original meeting announcement.

Photograph courtesy of Jerry Bachman


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