Energy is on the critical path of success for our civilization. With it our technology continues to grow and mature. Without it, we may very quickly find ourselves without any functioning technology. Currently we rely upon cheap, high density, non-renewable energy sources such as oil and coal for most of our energy. Both have a calculable date for when their extracted energy equals the energy required to extract; i.e. the time when we are without.
Given such a precarious and dramatic prognosis then we’d think that we’d be cherishing the remaining accessible oil and using it as prudently as possible. Do we? I leave this for you to answer on your own. From another, revealing perspective consider the last discovered big oil field that occurred in 1999. The Kashagan oil field. It is huge. Its recoverable reserves could on its own provide almost half a year of current global consumption. Yet, after 17 years of development and with anywhere from $50B to $116B investment, the field lacks routine oil extraction. Could this be because the guardian nation, Kazakstan, scored a sobering corruption rank of 123 of 168 nations? Or could it be that extraction is so difficult that it already has an energy return on energy invested of nearly one? In any case, that oil field may be the last one still functioning as our technology falters.
But what of our path to success. Are we ready to embrace a civilization that relies upon less energy? Do we want to use our remaining high density energy in the most beneficial way? What is this way? When do we begin the discussion?