3 Mar 2006
The Oil Drum’s 8 Reasons Why Peak Oil is Here / The Fine Art of Falling Off Building Sites.
Over at **The Oil Drum**, Stuart Staniford has written a piece called Why The Peak is Probably About Now which you really ought to read. The Oil Drum is an amazing site, number crunching computer modelling academics (most of them using pseudonyms as they still work in Universities) sift through all the peak oil data and attempt to make some sense of it all. At least half of it goes completely over my head. In this article, however, he sets out the key arguments which for him are the key indicators that we are at or near the peak. This whole peak oil thing seems to have developed a horrible momentum, an inevitability about it which I guess I always knew it would, but now I can actually *feel* it rather than just intellectually *knowing* about it. It brought to mind the time when I was building my late house in Ireland, and had reached the point where all the first floor joists were in place (see below left) and I had to lay down plywood sheets on top in order to be able to work upstairs. I had them all down and was walking back to get a hammer and nails to fix them in place when I stood on one that overhung the joist by just a few inches, the whole thing tipped up and down I went.
There is a moment when you start to fall when everything starts moving very slowly and you are acutely aware of your surroundings. You know that you are going to hit the floor and you can do nothing about it, but even so you look down and you try and check that you aren’t going to hit anything too horrible. You seem to do an amazing amount in what must only have been a few seconds. I did hit the floor and I did break my arm, but the thing that stuck with me was that moment when you start to go, when you think “that was really stupid, why did I do that?”, and try to remember what it was that all those know-it-alls had told you about how to fall ‘properly’, was it hand first, shoulder, side? … “shit, I wish I’d listened”… then gravity takes hold and your focus switches to looking down to what is coming.
Stuart’s piece has the feeling to me that we have arrived. We are at the peak and I get the same feeling I had as me, my hammer, handful of nails and sheet of plywood started to go down… this is not a theory any more, we are there. We don’t have Hirsch’s 10 years, not even 5. Even the New York Times is just ran an editorial on the subject that reads like something that even two years ago you would not have seen in the mainstream media, telling their readers that peak oil “is almost certainly correct”. We have to plan for emergency transition, not for a gentle descent. We can no longer wait for new technologies and new pieces of the puzzle, all that we will have we already have. Stuart’s piece has given me great focus, great clarity, and that feeling in the pit of my stomach you get just before you go over a waterfall.