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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Goes Down...

Richard Heinberg recently wrote a terrific article called “Oil Price Falls! Peak Oil a Non-Problem!”. The title made me giggle on my lily pad, but as I was gobbling caramel flies (chewy center) something occurred to me: this price drop is the best possible thing that could happen. Think about it:

Like never before in history (including, in my amphibian opinion, 1973 and 1979) the entire world is focused on oil, and even specifically on the price of oil. Whole forests have died to print conflicting opinions (most of them absurdly ill-informed) about why the price of oil was rising. Peak Oilers were mostly, but not entirely, shut out of the discussion. Regardless, ordinary people were aware and reacted. They stopped buying as many SUV’s. They drove fewer miles for the first time EVER. They panicked politicians into trying to do something, however misguided, about high gas prices.





They started paying attention.






And now, in full view of the entire world, oil prices are plummeting - $30 in 3 weeks. Virtually every pundit in the world – including and especially those who reject the reality of peak oil – is crowing about how this proves there is no supply and demand problem, it was just speculators/above-ground factors/instability premiums/Bolsheviks/whatever.

And what’s going to happen next?

Oil is going to hit some bottom (who knows where - $100? $80?) and oil price will once again skyrocket, exactly as predicted by Heingberg, Bob Hirsch, and anyone else who has even the tiniest familiarity with what it means when extreme volatility hits the price of oil. It means we’re on the plateau, and about to go down.

And the whole world will still be watching. People will NOT have started buying more SUV’s. They will NOT be spending freely again (because they’re still going broke, losing their houses, and watching their savings eaten up by 8%+ real inflation). They’ll be WAITING to see what happens.





And when it happens they’ll be paying attention.






Peak Oilers won’t need to write a thousand articles on The Oil Drum pointing out that 10,000 pundits just changed their tune again – articles to be read only by people that already know that. Because the general public is going to get it.

I don't have a crystal ball. I did have one, but it rolled off my lily pad, and now it's too deep in the pond for me to get it. But here's what I believe: the moment of global Peak Oil awareness is on our doorstep. Those of you who have seen this coming had better be ready with solutions. Because somebody is going to ask you what to do.




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