Is it true that our modern civilisation cannot ‘survive’ when the oil we so heavily depend on is gone? That is an interesting question which is not easy to answer.
First of all, it is important to look at the annual global oil consumption.
Secondly, research and data is needed to distinguish how much oil is left to recover and how fast that can be recovered.
Thirdly, there needs to be an ‘accurate’ forecast of how much oil we need in the future.
Finally, the fourth and perhaps the most important question is:
Before we focus on the annual global oil consumption, I will provide a brief history of how crude oil is formed and how much of it is already extracted.
Crude oil is formed from the remains of small animals and plants that died and fell to the bottom of the sea. Their remains were covered by mud. As the sediment was buried by more sediment, it started to change into rock as the temperature and pressure increased. The plant animal remains were ‘’cooked’’ by this process and changed into crude oil. (Source: BBC 2014)
Mankind has been drilling, recovering and extracting oil for more than 150 years when the very first modern oil wells were drilled in the 1850’s. Since then, it is estimated that between 100 and 135 billion tonnes of oil has been consumed. (Source: Inderscience, May 8, 2009)
How many barrels of oil are produced and consumed a day?
As of 2011, approximately 89 million barrels of oil and liquid fuels were consumed per day worldwide. That works out to nearly 32 billion barrels a year.
(Source: http://www.iea.org/aboutus/faqs/oil/ (International Energy Agency)
Of all the oil that is consumed daily, where does it all go?
- 90% of all our transportation, whether by land, air or sea, is fuelled by oil.
- 95% of all goods in shops involve the use of oil.
- 95% of all our FOOD products require oil use.
To give you a good idea about how oil is involved in our daily needs think about the following fact:
Just to farm a single cow and deliver it to market requires six barrels, or 954 litres of oil!
How much oil is left and how much do we need in the future?
It is projected that the global annual demand for oil is going to increase by 21% over 2007 levels by 2030. So from 86 million barrels of 2007 to 104 million barrels a day in 2030. (Wikipedia 2014)
Future projections indicate that higher oil consumption will come mainly from the transportation sector and increasing demand from emerging economies such as: Brazil, Russia, India and China (also known as the BRIC countries).
What is worrying about these projections is that world needs more and more oil and yet, oil is not formed anymore. Therefore existing oil reserves, exploration and oil extraction will only result in the decline of crude oil worldwide and one day, there will be no more oil left..
Experts forecast that the decline of peak global oil production will begin after 2020. If the estimates about the decline in peak oil are correct, then that is a worrying sign. Not are we only consuming significant amounts of oil at this present day, the demand for oil is still rising. Although it is recognized that the urge to shift away from our addiction to oil to alternative sources of energy is greater than before, we are still far too dependent on it. The rate at which the world is recognizing the need to transform our global civilization from being heavily dependent on oil to a more sustainable way of living is unfortunately too slow. This is indeed very worrying as we are dependent on oil for our food production, most of our goods and the transportation sector that is necessary to transport goods from A to B.
In addition to global oil addiction and the consequences rapid oil decline has on our civilization, the use of oil is also destroying our environment and is one of the major causes of global warming.
It is now more important and urgent than ever to transform our society from an oil dependent one to a sustainable one. Governments, organizations and people across the world have to recognize the urge to develop, invest and work together in order to create a sustainable society.