Whereas the climate change debate is fraught with projections and uncertainty, making it highly prone to manipulation and obfuscation, underlying that asinine debate is a set of far more concrete facts which are far less easily discarded. In fact the below facts are hardy, durable and largely immune to manipulation even by the knuckle-dragging set. By analogy, imagine the morons of the day debating the size of the hole in the hull (or indeed if a hole even exists) while the Titanic is already keeled over and diving to the bottom.
Following, I lay out the set of events and circumstances that will inevitably wean the human race off of hydrocarbons for good, without requiring us to convince one demented hillbilly, SUV owner, Prime Minister or combination thereof.
As an example, the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia is still the world's largest in terms of output, and yet production from that field started back in the 1950s. One needs no other piece of evidence to know that field is near the end of its production life. Still, they lie...
The supply side of oil futures pricing is based upon how much crude is coming onto the market in a given time (term) structure. The spot price is likewise based upon how much is currently being offered and has no relationship to how much is left in the ground.
As an example, if a country, let's call it Russia, were to forcibly amplify its oil production by injecting sea water into its wells, then it would cause production supply to increase in the short-term while impairing the long-term output potential of its wells. Short-term, that tactic would cause world oil prices to fall and hence over-stimulate demand, while laying the ground for an eventual asymmetric dropoff in supply in the future.
As I reiterated recently, among the top 15 oil producing nations are: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Mexico, Russia and Nigeria. Incidentally Canada's oil sands currently produce roughly 1.3 million barrels per day as against global annual consumption of ~83 million barrels per day i.e. it's a drop in the bucket.
Watch the movie Collapse for more detail on the fragility of the supply chain and our over-dependence upon (cheap) oil in our food supply. Be sure to have a change of underwear handy.
This is one of the central themes of Kunstler's blog - that we have created suburbs and exurbs that are totally disconnected from sustainable reality because they are fundamentally reliant upon a steady stream of cheap and abundant oil.
Think way back to 2007 when oil hit $147/barrel and filling up the average SUV cost $100. Now double or triple those figures. Also recall, the mad scramble to trade in many of those behemoths at a time when there were absolutely no buyers to be found. Rinse and repeat.
Sadly but predictably, investments in sustainable energy are highly correlated with the price of oil, due to the substitution effect i.e. why "go green" when oil is so cheap. That in turn will lead to underinvestment in not just green energy but also oil exploration, similar to what happened in the late '80s and '90s.
Underinvestment will constrain supply, which will amplify the oil price increases emanating from an expanding economy, should such an economy ever exist again. This means that every attempt to revive the economy will meet with skyrocketing oil prices similar (but on a magnified scale) to when oil ran from ~$12/bbl in 1999 to $147/bbl in 2007. These high oil prices will drain the economy and eventually send oil prices crashing again. Rinse and repeat...