On Peak Oil

If you haven't heard about peak oil, you've got some reading to do. Many sites on the internet offer dire predictions of oil prices going through the roof. The simplistic explanation is that we are running out of oil, and in fact our peak oil production has either peaked already or is about to peak real soon. Does it mean we will run out of oil?
I don't think we will, but when gas costs more than bottled water we are going to start looking at other energy alternatives pretty hard. And I think that in this sense, peak oil is a good thing. Americans have had cheap gas for way too long and buy too many cars that are way too big. When I fill up my tank in Brazil it costs about R$60,00 which is about the price of a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label Scotch. So everytime I fill up the tank, it's like a bottle of scotch.
As gasoline prices get more and more expensive, only the rich will be able to afford to drive. Americans will begin to discover public transportation, or will buy a bike. In Brazil we have lot's of energy options, half use gas, but many also run on ethanol, diesel and LPG (liquid propane gas). You can buy hybrid cars that run on gas or ethanol and the car automatically adjusts for the type it is burning.
I think, over time, we will see people changing their habits because of the high price of gas. People will move out of the suburbs and closer to work so that they can walk. Or will choose an apartment because it is walking distance to a subway. By living in the city we save a tremendous amount of gasoline. When food is shipped to our neighborhood it will reach a lot of people instead of a small community, this saves on fuel. We can walk or take public transportation to go to restaurants or the gym.
After 10 years of living with enormously high oil prices I can see consumption being cut by half. People will use their car less, and will buy more economic cars. Cars using renewable energy sources will become more common but will take a long time (40 years?) before they are more common than gasoline driven cars.
I forsee that eventually all new homes and many existing homes will be built with some solar panels. Especially, in the south, were air conditioning is common, solar panels to drive air conditioning makes a lot of sense. For people like me, who use computers a lot I wouldn't mind having battery backup and solar panels to protect me when the power goes out. Even if it takes me 20 years to earn back the money I spent on a solar system it might be worth it for me. And with the price of electricity going up I can see it taking a lot less time to recoup my investment.
If you have a gas guzzling car today I would recommend putting it on the market soon, because in a few years you wont be able to give it away!


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