Oil Quiz – Test Your Knowledge

Quiz:

1. United States oil production has been increasing at about 2% per year since 1960.

a. True
b. False

2. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest producer of oil in the world.

a. True
b. False

3. Each country publishes information about its reserves. This gives us pretty good information about future oil production.

a. True
b. False

4. The following were the largest oil producing countries in 2005: Saudi Arabia, Russia, United States, Iran, China, Mexico, Norway, and Venezuela. Of these, which showed declining production in 2006?

a. None of them. Oil production is growing almost everywhere.
b. Only Norway and Venezuela
c. Six of the eight: Saudi Arabia, United States, Iran, Mexico, Norway, and Venezuela.
d. All of them

5. Increases in Canadian oil production as a result of developing the Canadian Oil Sands can be expected to offset declines in oil production elsewhere.

a. True
b. False

6. If oil production in an oil-exporting country declines by, say, 5% per year, oil exports are expected to decline by a similar amount.

a. True
b. False

7. Geologists are in agreement that worldwide oil production can be expected to continue to rise, at least until 2030.

a. True
b. False

8. If worldwide oil production were to decline at 2% per year for several years, this could easily be accommodated with little disruption.

a. True
b. False

9. If there is a worldwide shortage of oil, the richest countries can be expected to get the majority of the oil, and within those richest countries, the wealthiest people can be expected to get the largest share.

a. True
b. False

10. If we know that a major oil shortage is on the horizon, we can make necessary changes (develop alternative fuels and plug in electric vehicles, for example) in a five year period.

a. True
b. False

11. Even after oil production in an area declines, there is still a substantial amount of oil remaining in the ground.

a. True
b. False

12. Technological solutions will overcome the likely oil shortfall.

a. True
b. False
c. We can’t know yet.

Answers:

1. United States oil production has been increasing at about 2% per year since 1960.

Answer: False

US Oil Production
Above is a graph (Figure 1) of US oil production. The blue line shows US 48 states total production; the red line shows the US total, including Alaska.

A person can see from this graph that oil production for the United States reached a peak in 1970, then began declining. The addition of oil from Alaska allowed production to reach a second lower peak in 1985, after which it began to decline again. The current rate of decline is about 2% per year.

In most areas, oil production initially rises, then declines after about 50% of the available oil in the area has been recovered. For example, Figure 2 shows a graph of production from the North Sea (that is, near Norway and Great Britain). Production grew for several years, then reached a peak and began declining in 1999.
North Sea Oil Production

If the United States does additional drilling in new locations, such as Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, or Jack 2, or along the outer continental shelf near Florida, geologists expect that US oil production (Figure 1) will show a modest increase for a few years, but will not approach the level of production seen in 1970 or 1985.

2. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest producer of oil in the world.

Answer: False.

Saudi Arabia was the largest producer of oil up until 2005, but its production recently has been declining. Russia is now the largest producer of oil. In 2006, Saudi Arabia produced 9,152,000 barrels per day while Russia produced 9,246,000 barrels per day, based on March 2007 US Energy Information Agency data.

Saudi Arabia is the still the largest oil exporter. While Russia produces more, its population is greater, so it has less to export.

3. Each country publishes information about its reserves. This gives us pretty good information about future oil production.

Answer: False

There are three reasons the published reserve numbers give very poor information about expected future production:

1. Reserve numbers appear to be seriously overstated for some countries, based on geological information from other sources. This is particularly an issue for Mideastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Questions have also been raised with respect to Russia’s reserves. Since reserve data is unaudited, there is no direct way of checking the accuracy of the reported amounts.

2. Even if oil is theoretically available, the amount of production in any one year may be very low because of technical issues. If oil is very thick, as in the Oil Sands of Canada and in Venezuela, it may be impractical to recover more than a very small percentage in any one year, because of the large inputs of heat (usually from natural gas) and fresh water required. Oil that is in very deep water, or that is in an area near icebergs, may also be difficult to recover very quickly, because of the need for special equipment.

3. Even if the oil is in the ground, a country can choose to delay production until later. We are used to countries producing as much oil as they can sell. If it becomes clear that there will be an oil shortage in future years, countries may decided to husband their resources (keep part of their oil in the ground, in case they need it later).

4. The following were the largest oil producing countries in 2005: Saudi Arabia, Russia, United States, Iran, China, Mexico, Norway, and Venezuela. Of these, which showed declining production in 2006?

Answer: c. Six of the eight: Saudi Arabia, United States, Iran, Mexico, Norway, and Venezuela, as shown in Figure 3 below.

Largest Eight Oil Producers
The fact that six of the eight largest oil producers have declining oil production in the first 10 months of 2006 is of concern because oil production in an area tends to rise for several years, and then decline year after year, once geological limits are reached. The fact that these six countries are showing declining production could mean than many (or all) of them have reached the point of geological decline, and thus can be expected to show declining production in the future. It is also possible that some of the declines in production are due to temporary situations, such as intentional reduction of production or equipment breakdowns.

On the exhibit, we note that the United States, Mexico, and Norway have all indicated that their production declines are for geological reasons, and thus can be expected to continue. The situation is less clear for Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela, all of which are members of OPEC.

The reason the comparison in Figure 3 is made for the first 10 months of 2006, rather than the whole year, is because OPEC announced a reduction in production as of November 1, and cutting off the data at October 31 eliminates this potential distortion. Thus, this exhibit shows that even before the announced cutbacks, the three large OPEC producers (Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela) were all showing declining production.

5. Increases in Canadian oil production as a result of developing the Canadian Oil Sands can be expected to offset declines in oil production elsewhere.

Answer: b. False

If we look at production from the Canadian Oil Sands, we find that it is only a tiny percentage of world production — 0.8% of world production in 1998, rising to 1.2% of world production in 2005, after billions of dollars of investment.
Production from Canadian Oil Sands

Oil from the Oil Sands is extremely difficult to produce. Production requires large inputs of fresh water and natural gas, both of which are in short supply. There is also a shortage of workers and housing for workers. There is discussion about eventually replacing part of the natural gas with nuclear energy, but this will not overcome all of the difficulties. Given how low production is today, and how slow it has been to scale up, it seems unlikely that production will ever be large enough to offset a significant oil production shortfall elsewhere.

Production of Oil Shale in the Western United States is expected to be even more challenging than Oil Sands production. The concentration of potential fossil fuel is much lower in Oil Shale than in Oil Sands, so even more production problems of the type encountered with Oil Sands can be expected. Given the slow progress with Oil Sands, Oil Shale seems even less likely to offset a major oil shortage.

6. If oil production in an oil-exporting country declines by, say, 5% per year, oil exports are expected to decline by a similar amount.

Answer: b. False

When a country increases its oil production, its internal usage tends to rise even faster than exports, as the population grows and some of the wealth filters down to the citizens of the country. When the oil production starts to decline, residents expect to continue their standard of living. As a result, countries tend to keep their own consumption at close to the same level, and reduce exports. This pattern was true for the United States when its production began to fall, and it seems to be happening in a number of other countries.

Given these considerations, if a country’s oil production decreases by 5%, we should expect that country’s exports will decrease by more than 5%.

7. Geologists are in agreement that worldwide oil production can be expected to continue to rise, at least until 2030.

Answer: b. False

We have already seen evidence that in a given area, oil production tends to rise for a number of years, then decline. Most geologists believe that on a worldwide basis, production will also eventually begin to decline. Opinions vary as to when the decline will begin. Typical dates are between 2007 and 2012, although some believe the decline will not begin until 2020 or later.

One reason why geologists are predicting a decline in production is the fact that oil discoveries (excluding Oil Sands, Oil Shale, and other “unconventional” sources) began declining over 40 years ago. The fields that have been found recently, including the much publicized Jack 2 field, tend to be fewer and smaller than the fields found years ago.

Oil Discoveries by 10 -Year Periods

While geologists generally believe that oil production will begin to decline in only a few years, governmental agencies, like the US Energy Information Agency, are projecting that oil production growth will continue until at least 2030. Some of the independent oil companies are also projecting long-term growth in production.

Economists have had a surprisingly large say in this discussion. Their view is that it doesn’t matter whether oil production begins to decline or not. They believe that oil is like any other commodity, and that substitutes will be found. They also believe that scarcity will lead to higher prices which will lead to greater production and/or demand destruction, so that declining oil production will never be a significant issue.

8. If worldwide oil production were to decline at 2% per year for several years, this could easily be accommodated with little disruption.

Answer: b. False

One might think that a 2% decline in world oil production could easily be accommodated, but several issues arise:

  1. In recent years, worldwide oil usage has been increasing by about 2% a year. Much of this increase in demand is from China and from other oil-producing countries that have previously had a low standard of living. Because we are used to a 2% annual increase in oil worldwide oil usage, the 2% a year expected decrease needs to be compared to the prior increase of +2% per year. This amounts to a change of -4%, relative to what we are accustomed to — quite a big decline.

  2. If worldwide production oil decreases by 2% per year, the amount of oil available to importers is likely to decrease by more than 2% a year, for reasons discussed in the answers to Question 6. Because the United States’ own production is dropping at 2% a year, in recent years our imports have been increasing at 5% a year, to keep up with demand. If imports suddenly become less available, US supplies are likely to drop by much more than 2% a year.

  3. The US economy and the world economy use very large amounts of debt. When the economy is growing by several percentage points per year, there are enough funds available that most debtors can repay their debts with interest. If, because of oil shortages, the economy ceases to grow, or if it begins shrinking by a few percentage points a year, it is not clear this system can continue. There are likely to be many defaults on loans, and long-term loans, including mortgages, may become very difficult to obtain.

  4. Once it becomes clear there are likely to be oil shortages in the future, the behavior of countries is likely to change. We are already seeing oil producing nations, like Russia and Venezuela, unilaterally adjusting oil contracts to terms that are more favorable to themselves, because of their new, greater power. If it is clear that prices will be higher in the future, oil producers have an incentive to hoard their supplies for the future. Some countries with inadequate supplies may choose military approaches for obtaining oil, if the alternative is economic decline.

9. If there is a worldwide shortage of oil, the richest countries can be expected to get the majority of the oil, and within those richest countries, the wealthiest people can be expected to get the largest share.

Answer: b. False

For reasons discussed previously, oil exporting countries are likely to get a disproportionate share of the remaining oil, since they are likely to meet their own needs first. With oil shortages, oil producing countries find themselves with more power, and are able to rewrite contracts on terms more favorable to themselves. Thus, it seems likely that the amount of oil available to oil-importing countries will decline disproportionately to the overall decline.

Within countries, governments are likely to allocate oil to what they consider their country’s most basic needs first – most likely agriculture, the military, and perhaps emergency services. If there is a shortage to begin with, once these allocations are taken off the top, the remaining amount of oil available to consumers is likely to be considerably lower than the total demand. It is possible the remaining oil will be sold to the wealthiest individuals, but if elected officials are involved, rationing may be more likely.

10. If we know that a major oil shortage is on the horizon, we can make necessary changes (develop alternative fuels and plug in electric vehicles, for example) in a five year period.

b. False

The US Department of Energy commissioned a study titled Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management, by Robert Hirsch, Roger Bezdek, and Robert Wendling, published in early 2005. This study indicated that if existing technology is used, it would take at least 10 years to begin to mitigate a decline in oil production. Twenty years would produce a much better level of mitigation.

The reason mitigation is expected to take so long is that there is so much infrastructure in place that uses the current technology. If a decision is made to increase fuel efficiency standards for cars, for example, it takes many years before this decision has a significant impact. First, it takes several years for manufacturers to begin making new models, then many more years before enough autos are sold to comprise a significant share of the US total. If liquid fuel is made from coal (a technology that has been around since World War II), it takes several years for factories to be built and new coal facilities to be developed.

Because of these considerations, it is difficult to make any major change very quickly. If we are talking about developing new technologies, like plug-in electric vehicles or cellulistic ethanol, we should expect even longer lead times, since new technologies need to be developed and tested, before they can be implemented on a large scale.

11. Even after oil production in an area declines, there is still a substantial amount of oil remaining in the ground.

Answer: a. True

Even after production ceases, a substantial amount (typically 50% to 75% of the oil originally in place) remains in the ground. New production techniques have been developed over the years, but these have generally had only a minor impact on the percentage of oil in place that can be produced. If one looks at the graph of the production for the US-48 states shown in Figure 1 above, or the production for the North Sea shown in Figure 2, one can discern little impact of new techniques in the last few years. Some believe that the primary impact of new techniques has been to remove oil more quickly, rather than to significantly raise the percentage of oil that can be recovered.

Given that there is still a substantial amount of oil is the ground, there is a possibility that new techniques will be developed that will be able to remove a much larger portion of the oil in place in an economical fashion. If this can be done, an oil shortage can perhaps be avoided for quite a few more years.

12. Technological solutions will overcome the likely oil shortfall.

Answer: c. We can’t know yet.

Since there are many people working on the problem, and since there is still a lot of oil in place, there is a possibility that solutions will be found to the likely shortfall in oil production. There are many issues that make the problem particularly difficult, however:

  • There is a very long lead time for any new technology to be implemented.

  • It appears likely that there will be a shortage of natural gas in North America, in roughly the same time frame as the expected decline in worldwide oil production.

  • Global warming is becoming a serious enough issue that it is questionable whether we should burn the additional fossil fuels that are in the ground, if we can get them out.

  • We have a large world population and limited fresh water and top soil, limiting the amount of biofuels that can be produced.

The above issues all relate to the fact that we live in a finite world and are approaching its limits. Researchers will need to understand all these various issues, in addition to the problem of oil shortages, to avoid trading one problem for another.

To Learn More

Dr. Colin Campbell – Peak Oil Presentation – The End of the First Half of the Age of Oil (33 minute video for Windows/Mac or IPOD/mp3)

Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management (US Department of Energy report mentioned above)

“Energy Sources and Our Future” – Remarks by Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover in 1957

Labor and Skills Crisis in Oil and Gas Industry Booklet by Booz, Allen, and Hamilton

Questions for Discussion

  1. If your family were permitted to purchase only five gallons of gasoline per week, how would this change your lifestyle?

  2. Geologists and economists seem to have very different ideas regarding the importance of the decline of oil. Who would you agree with? Why?

  3. Oil production in Mexico began to decline in the past year, and is expected to continue to decline in the future. In the past, revenue from oil income has been one of the country’s primary sources of tax revenue. What kinds of changes would you expect in Mexico, as production declines in the next few years?

  4. If you were the President of the United States and knew about the likelihood of oil shortages, what policies would you recommend? If you knew that it was likely that worldwide oil production was about to decline, would you tell the American people?

  5. Some people have suggested that there may be a link between expected future oil shortages and the war in Iraq. How likely do you consider such a connection to be?

  6. Given the likelihood of oil shortages in the future, what might be good careers for young people making choices today?

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to inadequate supply.
This entry was posted in Financial Implications, Introductory Post, Oil and Its Future, Planning for the Future and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Oil Quiz – Test Your Knowledge

  1. Mike Bendzela says:

    Gail, you’ll be getting hits from writing students in Maine.

    Thank you.

  2. Gala_Teah says:

    Thank you for a cogent and thoughtful quiz. I might suggest adding to your “Questions for Discussion” something about the ripple effects of an oil shortfall: how much oil did it take to grow your lunch? Or to transport it to your table? It’s sobering to realize how wide-reaching the effects of a shortfall would be.

  3. Sorghum Crow says:

    Gail,

    Great presentation. The questions for discussion are very insightful. The first question says it all, if there’s less (a lot less) to go around, what will we do?

  4. Shirley Green says:

    This is an excellent tool. Very succinct. I would like to add to Galah’s ripple effect comment, how about the energy it takes to supply and operate a hospital? So many drugs are derivatives of petroleum. Think of all the disposable items and the energy required to make them and dispose of them. Think of all the energy used to do linens, the chemicals (often petroleum-based) to clean ER, patient and operating rooms. Think of the energy needed to bring consumable medical products from manufacturers. Having spent 56 days in the hospital last year and being well-informed about peak oil, I watched this arena with amazement at the high expenditures of energy per patient.

  5. Joseph Delahunt says:

    “12. Technological solutions will overcome the likely oil shortfall.

    Answer: c. We can’t know yet.”

    Maybe this needs some clarification. Technology WILL NOT overcome geological processes of “Peak Oil”. Technology may increase URR which would push the peak forward, but ultimatly overall production will decline.

    Improved technology will increase efficiencies with present alternatives but I don’t believe they will come close to replacing the energy lost from the decrease in oil production.

    If were holding out for the new energy source produced by some new technology, don’t hold your breath.

    The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einstein

  6. RobC says:

    The facts as you’ve laid them out seem daunting enough. Without pretending I have a solution, I’d like to point out that nuclear energy can shave away some of the problem’s dimensions. Besides providing an electricity source with virtually no CO2 emissions, nukes can give us an energy-efficient way of producing hydrogen. Hydrogen storage is advanced enough that it could be used in local transportation. Fuel cells are proven, so it isn’t just wishful thinking to imagine they could become affordable with a high enough sales volume. Hydrogen also can multiply biomass output by a factor of three, although your article makes it clear biomass still isn’t going to make a big difference.

    Still, more electrical capacity means some railroad lines could be electrified. As oil prices rise, some freight will naturally shift to rail. Interest in light-rail passenger systems will increase the same way. Also, a lot of homes and businesses could be heated with heat pumps or solar-heat pumps and save some oil and gas.

    Perhaps if all these measures were implemented, the demand for oil could be reduced to the point where the supply could be sustained far enough into the future that better solutions will become available.

    • To RobC

      Right. Nuclear energy when used to generate electricity produces no CO2…if you discount the energy required to run the machines doing the mining. The mining of it is also very polluting. Pollution from making bombs during the Cold War is still polluting the air and water. Then there’s that little elephant in the room called disposal. Do you want a Yucca mountain in your back yard?

  7. Stuart says:

    Two points, any thoughtful consideration of the wideranging impacts of an oil shortfall would lead a reasonable person to conclude that we did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it is their oil reserves. As you have clearly pointed out, oil may not go to the richest country, as a result some countries may see a need to take it by force.

    2nd, some industrialized nations (West European nations) now get 25% of their power from wind and are even considering upping that to 40%. Likewise other nations use nuclear power extensively. In addition there are electric cars (not merely hybrid cars) that are being sold today. It is even easier to implement this technology with mass transit (buses and trains). So lets not panic. We could definitely make a switch. It would be somewhat wrenching as many people might have to switch to mass transit for five or ten years, but that should hardly seem cataclysmic. Wind energy is at present a more economic alternative (in some locations) to producing electricity using coal, or natural gas. When you look at a 25 year time horizon it is a hands down better choice. The real crunch will come to those who are invested in power plants that are using ever more expensive fossil fuel. If natural gas gets too expensive they will obviously go belly up. It is unlikely that coal could suffer that bad a meltdown in the next 15 years. Likewise, gas stations should go out of business, though they are trying their best to use ethanol, but that will probably be a band aid solution at best.

  8. Otis says:

    Simplest solution of all: population control!

    Funny how nobody wants to acknowledge that.

  9. mike says:

    Five gallons of gas a week I could live with, car pool take the bus etc not such a problem. Limited supplies of heating oil on the other hand would be disastorous.

  10. louis says:

    I don’t think that even 10% of the the current E.U. member
    states have achieved this yet ? Certainly the French, Dutch
    and Scandinavians ae pushing hard but in terms of overall
    population i think it will be quite sometime (read .. years
    before it is even agreed to make this a legally binding
    goal, let alone implement it.

    Not through the use of TV ads, not through billboarding,
    there are none in the showrooms I pass daily, and I’ve never
    heard nor seen an electric car (privately owned) silently
    gliding through the streets of Leeds in the UK (population
    roughly 750,000).”>

    Not from the UK’s perspective. Privatisation coupled with
    internal meltdown of our own manufacturing base coupled with
    dividends to shareholders over R&D budgets coupled to the
    fact that the next thousand carriages (that’s alot by the
    way) have been ordered using no carbon emission criteria
    in the commissioning process. As we’re still running plant
    that was built in the 60′s in places, who’s going to
    persuade the companies to stage a revolution at the next
    AGM ?

    I’m an optimist, don’t get me wrong, but i think the deals
    required are far from being on the drawing board, let alone
    on the table for open discussion.
    Let me give you an example.
    Years ago we had trams in Leeds, we sold them all in the
    60′s (I think) to Portugal, where they still run. We
    recently reached the end of nearly a decade of debate over
    the routes and designs for a new tram system.
    The result … the idea was scrapped.
    Shame.
    To put it mildly.

  11. We are headed for a train wreck. Speaking of trains… that is one area where we can mitigate the coming catastrophe… we need to immediately begin to resurrect the rail lines abandoned after WW II, otherwise the ability to move commerce and people will rapidly decrease…

  12. Bob Goldschmidt says:

    Great article with the hyperlinks to back up your statements.

    Both Congress and the US auto industry need to stop worrying about the next election or the next quarter’s financials and look out 5 to 10 years. Then they will understand the energy trap we are laying for ourselves due to our continued dependence on imported oil. In several years we will find ourselves head to head with the Chinese, contending for enough oil to keep our respective economies afloat. The economic (and possibly military) shocks that will ensue will force a change in our energy policies when it will be too late to react. This will destroy our domestic auto manufacturers and severely test our democracy. Here are some practical suggestions on how to minimize the shocks to our way of life:

    1. Set a floor on the price of oil at 45 to 50 dollars a barrel below which a Federal excise tax will cut in to make up the difference (suggested by Milton Copulos). This will provide an umbrella for the public and private financing of alternative energy sources.

    2. Electrify the railroad system and utilize the right-of-way to beef up our electric power distribution system.

    3. Build plants to produce an emulsion of oil and low-sulfur coal to replace the oil used to heat homes in the Northeast. This technology was developed years ago by the Energy Dept. and is competitive with oil at $25 a barrel.

    4. Provide federal subsidies for development of viable batteries for use in plug-in hybrid vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt. This will allow an individual to go to work and back without using any fuel. The market for these vehicles will explode once we encounter the first oil emergencies in a few years.

    5. Continue to encourage the development of bio-fuels. We can use the large tracts of burnt out forests to bridge our transition to PHEV solutions. We may need bio-fuels to power the airline fleet indefinitely.

    6. Develop a federal emergency fuel rationing data base which incorporates driver licenses, Social Security records and vehicle registrations. When using a credit card at the pump during an oil emergency, the credit card company would access and update the rationing data base to limit the amoount of fuel used per month by each individual. Just the knowledge that such a mechanism was being created, would make people think twice about the fuel efficiency of the car they were about to buy. Right now, the producing states have a supply weapon which they can use to force prices up. This would provide user nations with a consumption weapon to avoid economy-damaging oil price spikes.

  13. RedHatty says:

    What a great post! Thanks for linking the post in your reply to my blog entry! You need to join us in the campaign! Be a Netizen Hero!

    http://www.worldwithoutoil.org/addhero.aspx

    Thanks!

    RedHatty

  14. Jana says:

    I really hope you don’t mind, but I would like to copy your quiz and post it on my blog. I will, of course, credit and link to your site.

    Jana

  15. rich says:

    I am hoping that more individuals wake up and come to know what is happening. Fortunately or Unfortunately history repeats itself. I want to know:if we are the smartest beings on the planet how come we have so much difficulty following the natural laws of physics/universe? If we stopped trying to “control” everything and focused on our own liveable territory we would be in a much better situation. What most of us do not understand is that we,collectively, are paying for one persons dreams and desires.

    Anyway i just want to say thanks to all those trying to make the difference by being he difference we want to see.

  16. Kyle Schuant says:

    “If your family were permitted to purchase only five gallons of gasoline per week, how would this change your lifestyle?”

    We would have four gallons left over to sell to someone else, improving our income by by (here Down Under) A$21 a week.

    “Geologists and economists seem to have very different ideas regarding the importance of the decline of oil. Who would you agree with? Why?”

    Geologists will be able to advise about the likelihood and timing of the decline, economists about the likely effects. However, I’d be inclined to ignore the economists because economics is not a science, but a group of ideologies.

    “Oil production in Mexico began to decline in the past year, and is expected to continue to decline in the future. In the past, revenue from oil income has been one of the country’s primary sources of tax revenue. What kinds of changes would you expect in Mexico, as production declines in the next few years?”

    Combined with the NAFTA-inspired decline of Mexican domestic corn production, and rise in imported corn prices due to US demand for corn for ethanol feedstock, Mexico is going to starve.

    “If you were the President of the United States and knew about the likelihood of oil shortages, what policies would you recommend? If you knew that it was likely that worldwide oil production was about to decline, would you tell the American people?”

    I would, as President, use the policy already being pursued – to invade or threaten oil-producing countries to ensure a secure supply of oil. That is because the alternative, “Dear Americans, please reduce consumption of oil and products requiring oil – no more SUVs or burgers” would simply never get through Congress – these people want to get re-elected, after all. I would wait till the end of my term as President, then tell the American people, “hey, this is why we’re in Iraq – so you can munch on your burger while driving your SUV. The blood’s on your hands, people.”

    “Some people have suggested that there may be a link between expected future oil shortages and the war in Iraq. How likely do you consider such a connection to be?”

    Absolutely certain. Why else? This goes back to Carter, openly saying – with regard to Iran – that the USA had to have a secure energy supply. There was simply no other reason to invade Iraq. They had no WMD, and the government knew it, and they had no connection to any anti-US terrorists, and the government knew it. No democratic government is happening in Iraq, or even being properly pursued by the USA. So there remain only two possible motivations for the war in Iraq – a sadistic wish to conquer and enslave, or else oil. I don’t believe that the US government are sadistic enslavers, and so we’re left with oil.

    “Given the likelihood of oil shortages in the future, what might be good careers for young people making choices today?”

    Farming, and security. As food supply networks break down, people will want food, and get it closer to home; as cheap energy disappears, the rich-poor gap will vastly increase, and the rich will – as in all such countries – want to protect their wealth and themselves, and will hire goons to protect themselves.

    • Corn to produce ethanol is a non-starter. If we got rid of the tariffs on ethanol from Brazil and stopped subsidizing it in the US, corn for ethanol production would go away. It uses more energy than it produces and threatens our water supplies. It was strictly a gimmick to get George Bush re-elected.

  17. Akonitum says:

    Well done. Thanks.

    You wrote:

    If this can be done, an oil shortage can perhaps be avoided for quite a few more years.

    Even if, magically, we were able to bring huge new resources of high quality primary energy online quickly — say, equivalent to the nearly trillion barrels of oil the globe has already consumed — it would gain us less than a decade because of the way demand is growing.

    Among other things, we need to change our beliefs about “growth.”


    Are Humans Smarter Than Yeast?

  18. Linu says:

    Farming, and security. As food supply networks break down, people will want food, and get it closer to home; as cheap energy disappears, the rich-poor gap will vastly increase, and the rich will – as in all such countries – want to protect their wealth and themselves, and will hire goons to protect themselves.

    http://www.everydayspace.org

  19. capstar410 says:

    Great Report. I have been unwillingly engulfed in the hoopla surrounding our countries negative relations with other countries, mostly in part, due to new energy crisis. I found a great article, much like this one, which further details some possible implications and scenarios our country might, and most likely will face in the future. Take a look.

    http://www.isecureonline.com/Reports/DRI/EDRIH668/

    Enjoy….Cheers!

  20. Nancy Dennis says:

    Great writing! I tried to subscribe to your blog but the links appear to be broken. Help!??

  21. stewart says:

    I enjoyed your quiz but failed the test as I only got 33% right i did think saudi was the largest producer
    lots of useful information there

  22. lena yap says:

    i am only 15 but i passed with 7 correct out of 12. i enjoyed this quiz. It was very informative, for i am doing a project dealing with fossil fuels and the future for fuel efficiency. well thank you. =)

  23. jay ell says:

    one of the environmental problems i hear about nuclear energy is how to dispose of the spent fuel. i do not fully understand the decay process, and the nature of the residuals, but would like to know why we can’t just take the original nuclear material from its place of origin, use it for production of electricity until it has decayed, and then just take the residuals back to its original location and bury it. It was there to begin with, doing no harm, so why not just return it to its original position?

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  26. steph says:

    how do u answer these questions??? :)

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  29. cw5c0x says:

    Hello, Very nice site. Universe help us, dont worry man.

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