From the Post Carbon Institute comes this article which begins thus:
The Financial Times has leaked the results of the International Energy Agency’s long-awaited study of the depletion profiles of the world’s 400 largest oilfields, indicating that, “Without extra investment to raise production, the natural annual rate of output decline is 9.1 per cent.”
I haven’t said much (well, anything really) about peak oil at this blog, but the whole idea of my attempt to become self-sufficient in food is to prepare for energy decline as global oil extraction reaches a peak and then goes into permanent decline.
I don’t intend to waste time explaining why peak oil is an even greater threat to civilisation than climate change; Google will find you plenty of peak oil sites which will fill you in if you are confused about the issue.
So what does 9% decline rate mean and why is it so mind-numbing?
If a quantity is growing at a fixed rate (e.g. your money in a bank) the time for that quantity to double is obtained by dividing the % growth rate into 70. For example, a sum of money invested at 10% interest, will double itself in 70/10 = 7 years.
Similarly, for a quantity declining at a fixed rate, the halving time (i.e the time until half the quantity is left) will be obtained by the same calculation.
If oil output is declining at 9%, then 70/9 = 7.8 years. In other words, in just on 8 years the world will have only half the oil at its disposal as it has today.
Try imagining how society as we know it will function with only half as much energy and then, when you’ve recovered from the shock, start thinking seriously about food (and water) self-sufficiency.
You haven’t got a lot of time in which to achieve it.