Thursday, March 27, 2008

Peak Oil and the Future of Transportation

photograph courtesy of flickr

The current issue of Cal Transit's Transit America serial has an interesting article on the issue of peak oil (here on p 7, in PDF). The article, written by the mayor of Huntington Beach, California, Debbie Cook, opens with the following:
Core to all U.S. transportation planning is the assumption that oil will always be abundant and cheap. This premise continues to dominate every regional transportation plan in the country and drives our auto-centric development patterns. But what if this assumption is wrong? What if we are near the peak of world oil production? It then follows that our assumptions on construction costs, gas tax revenues, travel and aviation demand, mode choice, and growth patterns are also wrong. It would mean that our fossil fuel-based energy future is in jeopardy and that we are not prepared.
Cook then goes on to provide some quantitative metrics indicating that the global community is indeed already in such a situation. Peak Oil, Cook explains, will yield a problem for transportation energy of a magnitude such that the United States' federal government will have to initiate policies to strongly militate against potential catastrophe.

A more passionately articulated position can be found in J.H. Kunstler, whose website can be found here. His book, The Long Emergency, speculates on this potential catastrophe and demonstrates to readers just how deep runs the modern world's dependence on oil as an energy resource.

-J. Chipman

No comments: