Stop wrangling over global warming and instead reduce fossil-fuel use for the sake of the global economy.
That's the message from two scientists, one from the University of Washington and one from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who say in the current issue of the journal Nature (Jan. 26) that the economic pain of a flattening oil supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels.
"Given our fossil-fuel dependent economies, this is more urgent and has a shorter time frame than global climate change," says James W. Murray, UW professor of oceanography, who wrote the Nature commentary with David King, director of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
The "tipping point" for oil supply appears to have occurred around 2005, says Murray, who compared world crude oil production with world prices going back to 1998. Before 2005, supply of regular crude oil was elastic and increased in response to price increases. Since then, production appears to have hit a wall at 75 million barrels per day in spite of price increases of 15 percent each year...
In 2007 I thought we'd started a long rise in gasoline prices, but today's gas pump price in MN is pretty much the same as in May 2007. (US consumption is, I believe, lower than it was in 2007.) We're still years away from $7/gallon gas in the US.
Even then I didn't imagine we'd hit a production wall in 2005; when I've written about "peak oil" I've meant simply that increasing demand will outstrip increasing supply of light 'sweet' crude.
Murray and King's prediction is far more severe than anything I've considered.