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Peak Oil Essay

765 words - 4 pages

Energy ShortageFossil FuelsWhat are fossil fuels?Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. You may know it as coal, oil and gas.[1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel]Are we really running out of fossil fuels?CoalCoal is the fossil fuel with the greatest reserves and coal reserves are spread all over the Earth. It's relatively common, but very labour intensive to recover as it lies deep below the surface. If we carry on using coal at the same rate as we do today, we could have enough coal to last well over a thousand years. However, as other fossil fuels run out, particularly oil, the use of coal may increase, reducing that time span considerably.OilBecause we use oil to manufacture many materials, including plastics, we use oil at a much faster rate than either natural gas or coal. People have been expecting oil to run out within the next few years since at least the ...view middle of the document...

[3: http://www.oildecline.com/index.htm]Peak OilWhat is "Peak oil"?"Peak oil" is the period when the maximum rate of global oil extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. It relates to a long-term decline in the available supply of oil. This can be applied to other fossil fuels as well. (Peak coal etc.)[4: http://www.oildecline.com/index.htm]What happens next?It is only a matter of time until peak oil happens. Although what the days after the peak will look like is up for debate, these are the most probable effects;Oil scarcity is likely to cause oil prices to increase several-fold.The price of food is closely connected to the price of fuel. As shipping costs skyrocket, food prices will follow closely behind.Municipalities could also be hit hard by peak oil. Suburbs could become ghost towns as transportation prices escalate, forcing people to move closer to work.It is very possible that the peak will have massive consequence for society as we know it today, especially if alternatives can't be found.[5: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/peak-oil-reality.asp]SolutionsThere are no real cut and dry solutions to peak oil. If I could come up with one, I'd win a Nobel Prize. Our best shot is to try to mitigate it, and prepare for it.EducationIt's shocking that an issue that has such potentially massive long-term ramifications is not understood by more people. Educating people on this issue is the first step.ConservationAs transportation uses oil the most, government-mandated vehicle fuel efficiency requirements and the rapid deployment of diesel and hybrid power trains are certain to be an element in the mitigation of world oil peaking. Also, communities can contribute by doing the little things. For instance, setting up a carpool program.[6: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aic.10747/pdf]Alternative Energy DevelopmentThe most effective method of mitigating peak oil is to use renewable or alternative energy sources in place of petroleum. Nuclear power, solar power, hydrogen fuel are some examples. However, depending on the timeline of the peak, it might already be too late for this.[7: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitigation_of_peak_oil#Alternative_energy]

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