This graph is about oil, or petroleum. It is said to have been created from over 200 million years of sunlight falling upon the algae in the sea. In my poetic heart, I allow it to be the Blood of the Dinosaurs, for it was made when they roamed the Earth. They gathered together when they knew it was time to die and their blood oozed into the soil; with time changing into reddish-black oil. They could not remain the main form of life upon the Earth because of the inferior structure of their bodies; they were not able to become intelligent enough to stop their destruction from a monster meteor, or at least that's what now is thought.
But they could leave behind something of great value for the more able creatures that would someday come into being. They could leave behind the strength of their massive muscles, that moving of their powerful bodies through those different forests and jungles for so many millions of years. They left behind the gift of their blood, that we now use in our machinery as gasoline and diesel fuel instead of our own weak muscles, that we use to easily make so many million plastic and other products. They gave it to us so that we might have a chance to build a beautiful and intelligent world. That way, they would proudly become a part of us, and go forever with us into the future that they were denied.
For those who aren't used to reading graphs, the thick black line is the estimated amount of dinosaur blood that will be finally recovered from the Earth. 2000 billion barrels. That is a higher number by 150 billion than some of the leading experts now claim.
¡They'll be Digging it Out with Spoons!
No one is saying that someday there will not be even a single drop that can be gotten out of the Earth, for always there will be that much. What is most important for now is when we have to start taking out less because we've already taken out so much. It's like picking fruit off the tree, the low hanging fruit on the outside edges can be gotten quickly and easily, the harder to reach and more hidden takes a lot more time to pick. And you have to really study and take your time to make sure you get those very last ones.
The thin line that begins at 1900 shows how fast the dinosaur blood is being exhausted every year, and looks like the peak is at about 27 billion barrels. Then, it turns down and takes a nose dive. It doesn't matter how expensive it is, cause when it starts to run out there's just no stopping it. That is one of the hardest things in the world for people to believe; they think "why shoot, if it cost even a 100 dollars a barrel they'd be digging it out with spoons". It all kind of depends on what you use the blood for and the way you've got your society built. If it takes one barrel of blood to grow and haul the food from the farm for a week's supply of food for the dude who's doing the spooning, and he can only grub out one barrel a week, anybody can see that it's just not going to happen on any big scale. If you only wanted the dark blood to put in a crystal tube then you could pay whatever you could afford, but when you use it to make everything else work, there's a whole lot of difference between getting it the easy way and getting it the hard way. When it begins that nose dive is the very moment when it changes from the easy way to the hard way. Before that time comes we had better make sure we're not wasting the gift; that what we are building with it is going to last for a long, long time, because the dinosaurs are not going to come around again.
The vertical gray band means that if you're about ten years old or younger, then you are a child within whose lifetime this gift from the dinosaurs will be almost entirely gone. The way things are now going you might wind up seeing the blackish blood used only for putting in crystal bottles —it sure won't be running all these cars and trucks, all these many machines that we now take for granted, no matter what happens. Once the hard way begins, human life from that point on, if not before, will be involved in learning to create and live in that different world, one way or another.
"In Your Lifetime, but Not in Mine."
If you go around and ask adults about when the gift of dinosaur blood (but saying oil of course) is going to start running out, bets are that they will say, "There's plenty of oil. It's just the oil companies trying to make big bucks when they talk about running out of oil." That is the way they have been taught to believe. But there are some very serious and concerned people who foresee that it is going to turn from easy times to hard times a lot quicker than almost anybody is thinking. In fact, the rumble of the recent high prices of gasoline, heating and diesel fuel, natural gas, and electricity, may be from the storm just over the horizon, just that nobody is talking much about it in an honest way.
The graph above is only one prediction among many different. The so-very-wrong-before USGS, which the Department of Energy relies on to call its shots, is about the only source that imagines the peak to be that far away, and with a much higher peak before beginning an even steeper decline down to the bottom of the barrel. Others believe that the peak occurred in 2000, and that now the rate of exhaustion will remain level for a while, slightly below that past higher rate, before nosediving.
One thing though for sure is true. If we continue to increase the global speed of dinosaur blood exhaustion as every economic plan now envisions, we will run smack into the peak of production, and then the downslope. The only way we can avoid it is to find a way to diminish our rate of exhaustion and lessen our dependence, before we are forced to. The only way to justify using it as fast as we can is if we were building a way of living that will depend much less upon oil.
The higher the peak, the further down we must go.
Bits, Ands & Buts: Next