Could this be the end of the world? Scientific estimates point hands to the fact that the global oil reserve is running out at a fast rate and might get exhausted in the next 40 years. How true is this in the presence of the fact that the billions of barrels of crude oil many OPEC countries claim to have? If indeed the world’s oil reserve is running out, then how is this going to affect the civilized world: developing and developed countries. How are we supposed to adapt our life to suit this doomsday? Of course, all hopes are not gone away and obviously it will not be the end of the world. Needless to say that the estimated oil peak would cause great devastation but mankind have always adapted to devastating situations and come out even better. This essay considers the end of conventional oil by encompassing the oil peak and the subsequent decline. This also delineates the effect this scenario on careers, economy, engineering, as well as the most relevant solutions to these problems.
Oil has been misconstrued and misrepresented as the excrement of the devil,-- black blood, blood of the dinosaur and blood of the earth but in reality, it is the bloodstream of the economy. As a matter of fact, the economy depends on oil for its life and survival. Al-Deen opined that the oil is maintaining the growth the world's economy. This is because it plays a vital role in the production of virtually everything we have in the civilized world today. Obviously, mankind lives and their fights associated with oil. Oil is essential in the economy due its role in as well as locomotion but also for the production of goods and services (Chapman 93).
We have enjoyed an era of cheap and abundant energy quite too long, and research show that this era is rapidly coming to an end. The global demand for crude oil grew 1.76% each year from 1994 to 2006, and it attained a peak value of 3.4% during the period of 2003-4. However, crude oil consumption is expected to grow by 37% in future years. This demand will come from the transportation sector and other sectors such as residential, commercial and industrial (" World Oil Crisis: Driving forces, Impact and Effects"). Human growth is another factor that would contribute to this trend. The report went on to analyze the amount of energy concentrated in a small amount of gas or oil. "A barrel of oil contains the energy equivalent of almost 25,000 hrs of human labor. A single gallon of gasoline contains the energy equivalent of 200-to-500 hours of human labor.” (Savinar). Indeed the world is currently enjoying cheap oil because one gallon of oil costing $3 that can be used to propel a three-ton SUV 10 miles in ten minutes at 60 miles per hours. Consequently, the world tends towards oil scarcity because the global oil reserve is depleting (Savinar).
Moreover, such scenario of oil scarcity would greatly affect the world in a number of ways. As a matter of fact, oil scarcity will cause increased unemployment, poverty, bankruptcy, starvation and so forth and ultimately, it might even cause the society to collapse. Savinar presented a good analogy of what a shortage in oil can cause by comparing the economy to the human body. According to the analogy, as little as 10 to 15 percent shortfall between demand and supply can cause serious damage to an oil-dependent economy, causing rampant poverty and lots of other menaces.
The common man on the street seems not to be concerned with the depleting oil reserve. This is significant to consider that the oil is not like wheat that can be grown every year. Contrary to it, oil was formed by extreme global warming some 90 to 100 million years ago. More so, it took an extended duration of geological time to create oil, and it was created once and momentarily. This is surprising that such a valuable product formed once over such a lengthy duration is being depleted within two centuries (Al-Deen; "Petroleum”).
The fast depletion of oil will, of course, affect every aspect of human life and economy, but most essentially, it will have a great impact on the engineering work. As a matter of fact, engineering work is completely centered on oil. Irrespective of the engineering career in question, oil is the central focus. Petroleum extracts are processed and refined by engineers, and this is the major work done in engineering firms such as petrochemical companies. Such products are also used in pharmaceuticals, materials, plastics, chemicals as well as petrochemicals (Jr.et al. 130-153). A world without cheap energy would indeed put a strain on engineering. Therefore, the only way out of this menace is to develop and adapt to an alternative to crude oil but this is easier mention than to be done. When we think of petroleum alternatives, we think of solar and wind power. However, Savinar argued that the combined wind and solar power available at the present and functioning at 100% efficiency cannot equate the energy produced by crude oil. In fact, to measure up to the oil energy efficiency, the amount of installed wind and solar energy would have to be increased by 2,200% that is almost impossible with the current prevailing technology.
Additionally, oil is far more pricey than the price it is sold. As pointed out earlier, a gallon of oil has the energy equivalent of 200 to 500 hours of human labor, what an unimaginable figure! The manufacturing of an average car consumes the energy equivalent to almost 20 barrels of oil, and the figure can range to 54 barrels of oil. According to Savinar, the construction of a car will require an amount of fossil fuel equivalent to two times its final weight. Similarly, the construction of a laptop PC will require ten times its weight in fossil fuel and also microchips require 630 times its weight in fossil fuel during its construction. These statistical figures can reflect dependency the world on oil. Thus, the manufacturing process will come to a standstill if the world's oil depletes. If we run out of cheap oil, the cost of these products will increase unimaginable because of the corresponding increase in the cost of production (Savinar).
. The world's present population is at about 7 billion, and this is presumed to approach about nine billion by the year 2050. “The world has sung praises of the green revolution” the words coined by William Gaud, USAID administrator, to describe the growth in agriculture (" Green Revolution: Cursing or Blessing?"). However, it is imperative to consider that the revolution in question is all about fertilizing lands with fertilizers, a product derived from petroleum. As per report that since the 1940s, there has been an increase in agricultural productivity because of the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and increased mechanization, a process we refer to as a green revolution. Pesticides are made from oil and fertilizers are made from natural gas ("World Oil Crisis: Driving forces, Impact and Effects"). This has helped the world population to grow but with cheap oil running out, the green revolution might become difficult or impossible.
This might interest one to consider that ten calories fossil fuels are required to produce one calorie of food eaten in the United States. Due to phenomena of the world oil running out and the population increase simultaneously, one would expect global shortage of food by 2050 when the world population will reach 9 billion. Obviously, the running out of cheap oil will affect my career tremendously. These impacts will include limited transportation system, communication system and in general low standard of living.
Conclusively, fossil fuel might be harming the environment and causing global warming but its importance outweighs its negative impacts. The world peak oil and its consequent decline is at the corner, and this will affect every aspect of the economy, the human life, career, technology and the society. However, this will not be the end of the human race. Man has always survived different difficulties, and the impending peril is not exempted. Furthermore, the negative effect of oil depletion can be alleviated if scientists consider working in developing and discovering an alternative energy source. That would meet the demands of the world and its growing population just like crude oil.
Al-Deen, Abdullah Shams. "Black Blood Vol. 1: A Closer Look to the World’s Addiction to Oil."KUNet. N.p. Web. 24 Nov 2014. <http://nebras.nuks.org/?p=12807>.
Chapman, Ian, “The end of Peak Oil? Why this topic is still relevant despite recent denials” Energy Policy, 64 (2014): 93–101.
Jr. Hallock, John , Wei Wu, et al. " Forecasting the limits to the availability and diversity of global conventional oil supply: Validation." 64, (2014): 130-153. Print.
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).Green Revolution: Cursing or Blessing? Washington, DC: 2002. Web. <http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/pubs/pubs/ib/ib11.pdf>.
"Petroleum." In Microsoft Encarta 2009 Encyclopedia. 2009.
Savinar, Matthew David. "Are We 'Running Out'? I thought there was 40 Years of the Stuff Left.”. N.p., Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://www.peakoil.dk/introduction.pdf>.
"World Oil Crisis: Driving forces, Impact and Effects.”. World-Crisis.net, n.d. Web. 24 Nov 2014. <www.world-crisis.net/oil-crisis.html>.