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Abstract

From my perspective, and that of growing numbers like me, oil interests have hyped the product on which society has come to depend while stoking addiction and holding back alternatives. The oil industry's general contention is that peak oil lies far off in the 2030s or beyond. It doesn't. The peak is imminent, and will certainly happen this decade. When it arrives, it will send the oil price soaring beyond today's already dangerous level. This will trigger the worst-ever energy crisis, which itself stands to create economic chaos reminiscent of the depression in the 1930s. Meanwhile, global warming caused by oil, gas and coal burning is in danger of running out of control. Society will be forced, albeit in deplorable economic conditions, to solve oil depletion with a crash programme to accelerate alternative-energy sources. Whether it will do so with the technologies that can also solve global warming and save the planet is an open question. The biggest danger is that critical players like the US and China will use their enormous coal reserves to run power plants and provide gasoline substitutes without giving renewable alternatives enough of a chance. The extent to which we can accelerate renewable forms of power and fuel instead of coal, rather than alongside it, will be the final battleground in the effort to save Earth from the ravages of human-induced global warming. There is much that individuals, and organisations including businesses - oil companies among them - can do to influence the outcome of that struggle.

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/content/papers/10.3997/2214-4609.201402254
2006-06-12
2020-08-07
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