Home > energy, The Economy and the Planet > How long will it last? — 4 graphs

How long will it last? — 4 graphs

from Edward Fullbrook

If you have time, I recommend reading “The three crises: oil prices, climate change and international debt” on feasta.org.  But here are four graphs regarding oil and natural gas from the article that illustrate some  of the difficulties that we face.

Graph 1: Oil is no longer being discovered at anything like the rate it is being used. Source: ASPO (www.peakoil.net)
Graph 2: The world’s production of conventional (i.e. readily extracted) oil is probably as high as it will ever be. However, the world’s total oil supply will probably carry on increasing for another four or five years if the price stays high enough for it to be profitable to produce it from expensive, energy-intensive sources such as the Canadian tar sands, or fields in polar regions and in deep water far offshore. Thereafter it is bound to decline. Source: ASPO





Graph 3: By about 2012, the world’s output of conventional gas will cease to increase, although a limited amount of extra gas will become available from unconventional sources, like methane from coal mines. Around 2040, the total supply of gas from all sources will fall sharply. Source: ASPO.


Graph 4 puts the supplies of both oil and gas together and shows that the amount of energy that the world can expect from both fuels will start to fall sharply after 2015. Source: ASPO.

  1. May 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Some of us really love crises, so we make sure that the future contains plenty of them.
    The number “3” is also a recurring symbol in the human mind, so now we have three crises to deal with: Oil, Climate change and Debt.
    Optimists create rising graphs into the future, pessimists create falling ones.
    I’m guessing you belong to the latter category Edward? :)

    • May 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      Generally in life I belong with the optimists, to the point of being teased about it by people close to me. And I wasn’t much worried about climate change (it sounds quite harmless expressed that way) until about two years ago when I realized that I held and voiced opinions about climate change but had never read a single article or book by a climatologist. I had never relied on economists or columnists for my knowledge of relativity or quantum physics; why should I do so for climatology? So I resolved that for one year I would read material about global warming and etc. only either written by climatologists or by journalists reporting directly on their research. At the end of that year, regarding long term human prospects, I was a pessimist.

  2. Podargus
    May 10, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    There is also the crisis of excessive population.This is the over riding crisis and it is the elephant in the room which most Homo Saps are determined not to see.

  3. May 11, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Come on guys!
    Don’t let all the “experts” turn you into pessimists.
    You see, they are really not different from economists:
    The speak from the heart rather than the intellect, using
    fancy language and numbers to impress us with their “wisdom”.

    I have noticed that people on the “left” of the political spectrum
    tend to be chronically depressed (Chris Hedges).
    Why not join the Tea Party and Gold Bugs and have some fun?
    Then you can enjoy Global Cooling and many other benefits.

    • May 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Actually, there are studies suggesting that right-wing individuals tend to be happier than left-wing people. Therefore, a utility-maximizing person should join a right-wing party. A utility-maximizing person should also avoid reading any books containing information on the possible effects of climate change, resource depletion and so on. Come to think of it, a utility-maximizing person should simply stop reading any news whatsoever and trust in the ability of policymakers and “experts” to run the country smoothly.

  4. May 11, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I took a look at the source paper and focused on the proposed solution, which I think is this: Turn greenhouse gases into a pile of gold, and issue a finite currency for it purchased with respective local fiat currencies. And it all made sense in a neo-classical rational atomist sense, except for all the details….

  5. May 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    From my own experience, “what’s gonna get you” is what you never thought of,
    coming at you out of left (or right) field when you least expect it.
    Also, humans are like cockroaches: they come back out of the cracks after the storm blows over. The future of the species is assured, economists not withstanding!

  6. Nathanael
    May 13, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Humans are headed for extinction. We might survive our self-induced mass extinction, but not with the current head-in-the-sand tactics.

    Oh, maybe some small minority of humans will genetically engineer themselves to survive in the brave new world. But will they qualify as humans any more?

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