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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Peak oil vs. Global Warming which issue will survive?

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a web radio investment talk show which questioned whether we should be fixating on Global Warming or Peak Oil as the major concern of our times. It was no surprise that they decided that the later was more pressing and in some aspects I can see their point.

Peak has already passed and producing countries are increasingly hostile to the west and because of rising incomes and high discounts, the rate of growth of domestic energy use in producing countries is immense, as is growth in China and India.

Energy costs are rising stiffly NOW, pumping up inflation for energy, food costs.

It’s predictable that real shortages will hit North American within a few years. Mexico’s oil and gas fields are depleting at an increasing rate, Canadian conventional oil peaked some time ago as did the U.S. production. World natural Gas peak is only a few years out.

Oil/Gas inventories are being drawn down.
Refineries are old and worn out leading to accidents, fires, breakdowns.
Refineries were designed for sweet crude not the crappier heavy high sulphur sour crude or even the heavy tar sands oil.
Refineries are wearing out at an increasingly fast rate due to the higher temperatures required to create low sulphur gas.

The impact of Global warming on the other hand was discounted as being way down the road. This observation is also correct to a point. While we are already being impacted by global warming, (storms, droughts, melting glaciers) the catastrophic conclusion can be seen as well down the road allowing people to ignore it for a more impending energy crisis. Now they did not deal with the idea of a warming tipping point, in fact they did not really did deal with the validity of global warming at all (on the up side the did nor refute it) but they did make this important observation.

To summarize

Peak oil will create hardship, shortages and will capture the attention of the public and the politicos in a real way, very soon! Global warming less so.

If the Global Warming activists cannot rebrand themselves as energy policy advocates that deal with energy shortages in a rational way they will not be able to make any headway on green house gases.

“It they succeed in reframing the global warming issue in terms of energy policy rather than oil then there’s a chance they’ll keep going, if not they’ll throw it(the issue) off the side of the ship”

This is a valid observation, how will we concern people about long term considerations like rising sea levels when the lights are going off, your car won’t go and jobs are being lost?

How would you expect the herd to act?

Do we need to rebrand the global warming issue into a unified energy policy that deals with shortages as well as green house gas emissions?

In many ways the issues are linked and complementary in solution but are we playing it wrong?

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