Peak Oil symbol is often used by people attempting to communicate
the fact that a unique combination of tectonic, climatic and other
forces occurring over eons created in Earth’s crust one type of oil -
mineral oil. It thus forms a rare, finite and non-renewable resource. In
general these people are attempting to alert human kind to the reality
that most of the systems that have enabled the explosion in the human
population from 1.5 billion to 6.8 billion people in the last century
are based on the extraction and wasteful destruction of this unique,
very potent* resource and this behaviour is lethally unsustainable.
Fundamentally a growing population is increasingly dependent on a
diminishing resource. Peak oil is defined as the moment at which the
maximum rate of extraction occurs.
of the immense potential of mineral oil is because a 42 US gallon
(158.9873 litres) barrel of the resource contains the energy equivalent
of approximately 25000 man-hours of labour. ( Burning one barrel equates
to 5.8 million BTUs or 6.1 Gigajoules.)
resource is also very potent because it can be transformed into a wide
range of materials enabling myriad activities in a wide range of
conditions. It can be transported, stored and transformed for use with
particular, users of the peak oil symbol are often attempting to
communicate the notion that approximately half the mineral oil on the
planet has been extracted and destroyed, mainly in the last two
generations. As the resource becomes scarce its price will rise.
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the peak oil symbol is unsustainable for several vital reasons
that include the denial of change on various levels:
one can know how much mineral oil resides in Earth’s mantle, thus we
cannot know when we have used half of it.
global extraction and trade of mineral oil is controlled by a small
group of very powerful speculating merchant bankers. The price of
mineral oil thus has no relationship to its value. Currently most
systems in Anglo-American countries are based on a valuation of $US25 a
barrel, which equates to about 0.1 cents a man-hour of labour. A
profound labyrinth of subsidies obscures this vast undervaluation. Thus
the price bears no relationship to changes in the value or availability
of the resource. Thus also the peak moment of extraction is arbitrary
and communicates little about changing availability and use.
human population has increased at a related exponential rate this last
century and the peak oil symbol fails to reflect this change.
This change is an extremely brief era even in the context of human
exists in multiple forms, including mineral and biomass-based forms.
use of a carbon resource occurs within the global flux of carbon. The peak
oil symbol fails to communicate the nature of the transformations as
we convert mineral oil into waste and pollution. In particular it
omits the ways combustion changes the carbon balances of our atmosphere.
uses of mineral oil are characterised by addictive behaviour. The peak
oil symbol reinforces this behaviour by framing the issue in terms
of one form of carbon, thus accentuating the sense of hopelessness of
the addicted. It denies the central issue, which is our stewardship of
our carbon potential.
peak oil symbol fails to elucidate and connect the problems
caused by our misuse of our carbon potential. It does not evoke the
requisite vision of hope and inspiration that enables sustainable change
in behaviour. Teach our children that the Cheap Mineral Oil/Gas Era has
passed and speak of the role of compassion in enabling humanity to
transition to an era when we make wise uses of our carbon, solar and
the rewards of being a conservator of the potential of our greatest
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