Currently, we have already exceeded our planet’s ability to produce cheap and easily accessible oil. In fact, “Worldwide discovery of oil peaked in 1964 and has followed a steady decline since. According to industry consultants HIS Energy, 90% of all known reserves are now in production, suggesting that few major discoveries remain to be made” (Module #8, p. 2). This means that as of right now, we are already consuming tomorrow’s oil. At this rate of consumption, and the lack of new discoveries of oil, it is no wonder the price has spiked: “Since the price of oil started to climb in 2005 and then to soar to record levels in 2007, many are wondering if we have already reached a period of peak oil, with future demand outpacing easily accessible supply” (Chap. 11, p. 308). With such a drastic price increase, and the dwindling lack of new oil supplies, the idea that we have already reached peak oil production – and that we have already begun to consume our future oil reserves – is not only plausible, it is undeniable.
The question now, is: what do we do next? Currently, the world – and America, in particular – is blissfully comfortable with its present oil consumption patterns. “Americans, who must travel long distances across regions with sometimes sparse populations…have been hard to coax out of their automobiles. They lead the world in oil consumption and will likely continue to do so” (Chap. 11, p. 316). So, how do we change this behavior? As with all supply and demand concepts, there are two crucial points that must be reached before change will occur: supply must be nearly exhausted (causing an exponential rise in price) and demand for the product (transportation, in this case) must exceed the supply of the product that makes it possible, which is oil, in this case. At that point, the world will be forced to face the undeniable truth, and finally settle on one of the many alternatives.
Currently, hybrid vehicles are increasing in both popularity and supply, making the possibility of utilizing clean, renewable energy much more readily accessible and palatable. But, until Americans, and the world, accept the fact that the oil supply-and-demand cycle is almost exhausted, it may still be many years before the glaring reality is finally realized. In this case, as in many, the only time people may finally accept the need for alternative solutions is when it’s too late.