A spot of Googling this week (those who know me will probably realise why I am particularly interested in the subject at this moment) after I read about Ban Ki-moon's meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia over the weekend. I turned up some interesting facts (Ask Me-Fi was informative as ever) about barrels of oil.
A barrel of oil, I discovered, is 42 US gallons - not the standard 55 gallon drum with which we are all familiar (1 US gallon being equivalent to 3.78 litres or about 6 and a half pints, whereas an Imperial gallon is, as any fule kno, a good 8 pints) Interestingly though, an actual 42 gallon barrel is apparently rarely seen. As with many things in life, history has played its part in this particular anomaly, but I will not digress on to this point. Of the aforesaid 42 gallons, around 20 will be turned into 'gasoline' with this ratio said to be decreasing year on year due to the changes in the quality of the stuff being torn out of the ground.
Anyway, Mr Ban tells us that his mate Abdullah has agreed to produce an additional 500,000 barrels of the black stuff EVERY DAY! That would equate to approximately 37,800,000 litres of Ford juice. Extra each day. I call bullshit on this one. Who knows anyway how much oil the Saudis have really got? A bit more trawling on Wikipedia about oil reserves made for some fascinating reading indeed, and inclines me even further along the path of believing that we really are on the way to hell in a handcart.
The Independent had a very sober and intelligent leader on Monday about the situation we're in, pointing out that any government which is serious about lowering carbon emissions and addressing the issues of world poverty needs to be looking at oil dependency pretty damn quick. Of course, none of those bastards are even remotely interested in that. Our wonderful economic model depends on ever-increasing consumption, and so the inevitable rise of the Chinese and Indian economies (who can blame them for wanting a Big Mac and fries instead of lentils, beans & rice? Who can criticise the desire to wander around a shopping mall before jumping into an air-conditioned 4x4 instead of carrying water for 8 miles just to make breakfast?) literally adds fuel to the fire and sucks the very life blood from our planet.
I admit it, I'm a Peak Oilist and I believe that if we don't do something NOW then we may as well kiss our asses goodbye. Terrifying stats show that in the US, energy from wind power represents 0.4% of total energy use and solar power 0.1%. So at the moment, despite the upturn in sales of solar panels thanks to the rising cost of filling up, it's extremely difficult to see how renewables can offer a viable alternative.
I don't think we're about to see Tina Turner straddling a Harley Davidson yet (thank God) but I also don't think we can just muddle through. Death by a thousand cuts is what we're due for, and some of those cuts will strike deeper than others - depending on how rich or poor we are now. I was wondering how I would cope if I was confronted with empty shelves at Waitrose like those we are seeing in Spain at present. The uncomfortable answer is that I almost certainly wouldn't cope very well at all, not being terribly well equipped to either grow my own veg or hunt local wildlife. Yet my own potential misery is as nothing compared to the (further) suffering already endured by those in the poorer countries of the world as they are denied what little they used to receive of the very basics of life, such as rice, bread and maize. None of us either can pretend that we didn't see this coming.
Worrying times lie ahead.