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Bell Curve

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Notice gas prices going up? You may not know it, but the oil supply has a lot more to do with you life then putting gas in your car, in fact civilization, as we know it will come to an end if we do not find other resources Most people have no idea how crucial oil is to their lives. Most believe it is a matter of supply and demand and that we don't have to worry about "running out" after all, it won't happen during our liftetimes right? Wrong.

Oil will not just "run out" because all oil production follows a bell curve. This is true whether we're talking about an individual field, a country, or on the planet as a whole.

Oil is increasingly plentiful on the upslope of the bell curve, increasingly scarce and expensive on the down slope. The peak of the curve coincides with the point at which the amount of oil has been 50 percent reduced. Once the peak is passed, oil production begins to go down while cost begins to go up.

This means that if 2000 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2020 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world's population in 2020 will be both much larger (around double) and much more industrialized and oil-dependent than it was in 1980. Thus, worldwide demand for oil will outpace worldwide production of oil by a significant margin. Because of this, the price will dramatically increase, oil-dependant economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode

The issue is not one of "running out" so much as it is not having enough to keep our economy running. The consequences of Peak Oil for our civilization are similar to the ramifications of dehydration for the human body. The human body is 70 percent water. The body of a 200 pound man thus holds 140 pounds of water. Because water is so crucial to everything the human body does, the man doesn't need to lose all 140 pounds of water weight before collapsing due to dehydration. A loss of as little as 10-15 pounds of water may be enough to kill him.

In a similar sense, an oil-based economy such as ours doesn't need to deplete its entire reserve of oil before it begins to collapse. A shortfall between demand and supply as little as 10-15 percent is enough to wholly shatter an oil-dependent economy and reduce its citizen to poverty.

The effects of even a small drop in production can be devastating. For instance, during the 1970s oil shocks, shortfalls in production as small as 5% caused the price of oil to nearly quadruple. The same thing happened in California a few years ago with natural gas: a production drop of less than 5% caused prices to skyrocket by 400%.

There are other viable sources of energy to enable us to reserve our oil supply for other uses. Natural gas is not an option since it is a non renewable resource as well. Because petrochemicals are key components to much more than just the gas in your car. Approximately 10 calories of fossil fuels are required to produce every 1 calorie of food eaten in the US.

The size of this ratio stems from the fact that every step of modern food production is fossil fuel and petrochemical powered:

For one thing, pesticides are made from oil. Commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas, which will peak about 10 years

after oil peaks; With the exception of a few experimental prototypes, all

farming implements such as tractors and trailers are constructed and powered using oil; Food storage systems such as refrigerators are manufactured in oil-powered plants, distributed across oil-powered transportation networks and usually run on electricity, which most often comes from natural gas or coal; In the US, the average piece of food is transported almost 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate. In Canada, the average piece of food is transported 5,000 miles from where it is produced to where it is consumed.

In short, people use up oil like two-legged SUVs.

It's not just transportation and agriculture that are entirely dependent on abundant, cheap oil. Modern medicine, water distribution, and national defense are each entirely powered by oil and petroleum derived chemicals.

In addition to transportation, food, water, and modern medicine, mass quantities of oil are required for all plastics, all computers and all high-tech devices.

Some specific examples may help illustrate the degree to which our technological base is dependent on fossil fuels:

The construction of an average car consumes the energy equivalent of approximately 27-54 barrels, which equates to 1,100-2,200 gallons, of oil. Ultimately, the construction of a car will consume an amount of fossil fuels equivalent to twice the car's final weight. The production of one gram of microchips consumes 630 grams of fossil fuels. According to the American Chemical Society, the construction of single 32 megabyte DRAM chip requires 3.5 pounds of fossil fuels in addition to 70.5 pounds of water. The construction of the average desktop computer consumes ten times its weight in fossil fuels. The purity and sophistication of materials (needed for) a microchip, . . . the energy used in producing nine or ten computers is enough to produce an

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