Green Piece: Oil obstacles: Hitting a peak


“Green: concerned with or relating to conservation of the world’s natural resources and improvement of the environment.”

I’m a guy that believes that being green can improve the world substantially. I want to re-brand the whole green concept to you, because it seems that it’s gotten a bad rap time and time again.

Inevitably, many people have come to the conclusion that this whole movement is all about climate change. I want to throw that whole misconception out the window, especially since there are many global warming naysayers out there.

For those of you who believe that green technologies and methods are around solely for the purpose of curbing the greenhouse effect, let me submit to you that there are a variety of reasons that going green can benefit you.

In writing this column I hope to show that going green can be delightfully selfish rather than simply altruistic. It saves people money and leaves them healthier in the long run.

I’m not a hippie, nor am I some sycophantic brown-noser attempting to appeal to the sensibilities of liberal professors or scientists. I’m a cash-strapped student just like many of you. I’ve felt the pain of going to the gas pump when prices are $4.65 a gallon, and I’ve frequently wondered how I could save money in the face of rising energy costs.

I want to dig deep into the reasons that we see things like this happening. Climate change is a multifaceted argument that can be disputed depending upon one’s perspective, but nobody can deny that the world is changing in other ways.

Which brings me to today’s topic. Global Warming pales in comparison to this great unknown; it is one you won’t hear about from politicians.

What we’re learning about today, ladies and gents, is Peak Oil Theory.

Believe it or not, we’re running out of oil. That’s something that most of you are probably already aware of, but did you know that a great number of scientists believe that within a century, the human race will have exhausted all its oil supplies?

Peak Oil Theory, in a nutshell, basically says that for years and years we’ve been drawing up oil from our planet.

We don’t get oil from one centralized location, but rather from pockets in various locales throughout the earth.  From these pockets we extracted a record high in 2011, with 83.6 million barrels per day.

After a certain point, we are going to reach a peak in these locations, a point we’ve already gotten to in many places. The United States is believed to have reached its peak around 1971.

The peak is basically the point at which we will extract the largest amount of oil possible from an area and, in all subsequent years, the amount that we’ll extract will be marginally smaller than the year before. It’s believed that at some point we will reach a worldwide peak in which all the pockets of oil within the world will start to yield less oil.

Then, when demand starts to greatly exceed what’s being produced, the global economy will start to spiral downward as prices rise (such is the idea Peak Oil supporters have, at least). A lot of credible organizations and experts believe that we’re coming up on that time much more rapidly than anyone else realizes.

Some say we’re already upon it, and others believe it’s right around the corner.

In fact, a recent study from Shell indicates that by the end of this decade, demand will exceed the amount of oil in the world. That’s not a surprising figure when you consider that we’re making less oil and the population is rising. This is one reason we see gas prices at such alarmingly high rates.

We’re quickly coming upon a time when the worldwide extraction of petroleum will significantly decrease; perhaps it’s time to embrace the green movement. As students, we’re in the perfect position to bring our job skills together in a world that can work toward green jobs and alternative green energies.

We’ve already seen the rise of electric hybrid vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt as well as an increased interest in solar technologies. There’s been a resurgent popularity in riding bikes as people are making strides toward using less fuel.

And although this is an issue that we’re currently still trying to work out, it’s not unsolvable. This is just one of many reasons that going green is gravely important in our modern world.

About Alex Groves

Alex is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in radio-tv-film. He is very excited to be serving as a news editor for the Daily Titan for Spring 2015.