Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Perspective on Oil Consumption

John Kurmann sent me this email talking about oil consumption. I think it really puts into perspective how much oil we've consumed in the past fifty years.

Good day, all. I came across the quote below in Byron W. King's Whiskey & Gunpowder newsletter for Agora Financial LLC (also published at http://energybulletin.net/22458.html). Though I was in some sense aware of the incredible rate at which global civilization is consuming petroleum, this somehow made the issue more concrete form for me. I also agree with Byron that it's well past time for us to get serious about addressing energy depletion. Here's the quote (emphasis added):

"...At a very basic level, people are beginning to wonder exactly how our society is going to heat its houses and grow and transport its food in about 20 years or so.

"Twenty years? Who cares, right? You scoff at such a time frame? For perspective, just understand that about 50% of all the petroleum ever consumed by mankind has been consumed since 1984. That is, people have been watching Tom Cruise movies and listening to Madonna sing for a longer time than it took to burn 500 billion barrels of petroleum. Talk about Nero fiddling? And about 90% of all the petroleum that has ever been consumed by mankind has been consumed since 1958. So 90% of the world's oil consumption has occurred in the time since the Beatles were a warm-up act in Liverpool. Does this not give you some sense of the rapidity of the developing energy storm? And if not now, just when is it going to be the right time to begin being concerned about the world's depleting energy supply over the next 20 years, let alone the next 50 years?"

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminister Fuller

1 comment:

Frank Black said...

Wow. That is an amazing perspective. I enjoyed the linking of names like Tom Cruise and Madonna to the end of civilization, but then you had to go and ruin it by invoking the holy name, "Beatles". ;)