There is no cheap-oil future for us, and if humanity doesn’t make the transition to a sustainable energy source, Mother Nature will. Robert Rapier, Chief Technology Officer of Merica International, issued this warning during an opening presentation at Footprint Forum aimed at providing a briefing in some of the ways we are hitting ecological limits.
According to Rapier, we are reaching the point at which rising human demand for oil is outpacing our ability to discover new sources of oil. As populations grows and large segments of humanity seek to improve their standard of living, supply will simply not be able to keep up with demand, driving the price of oil up and availability down.
According to Rapier, peak oil—when oil production rates begin an irreversible decline – will have a direct effect on global warming. “When there’s a decline in oil production, the first thing we do is turn to coal plants and tar sands,” he said. “We will demand that because we have built a society on cheap oil. But eventually fossil fuels will run out.” That would address the problem of climate change, he said, but most likely not in the way people would like to see it solved.
Rapier is Chief Technology Officer for Merica International, a bioenergy holding company. He has authored a number of articles on energy and sustainability, including a chapter on renewable diesel for “Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems: Benefits and Risks.” Rapier’s presentation was given during a session titled “Challenges,” during which several speakers laid out key issues exacerbating today’s environmental challenges.
Other speakers included: