(There are a number of chapters still under development and their icons are white. Click them and nothing much will happen)
The mission of this website is to efficiently & effectively communicate the science behind the three big societal risks facing us today that will have a huge negative impact on your life and your economic prosperity if they continue to be ignored.
Peak oil is one of those risks. It is an issue which is complicated, largely misunderstood but through the price of oil profoundly affects us all. So far there has been no easy means of learning about the necessary technical details of this critically important topic without wading through hundreds of pages of dry reports. Until now. The Peak Oil Files video series breaks down all the key literature and reformulates it in easy to understand animated info-graphics so that you can learn all this material in a fraction of the time it would take to read it all.
I love graphic design. Not only does it look good, but so much information can be contained in a single glance. I am also a chemical engineer and a bit of an energy nerd who is deeply concerned about the short term focus surrounding our energy infrastructure. I have come to discover just how onerous it is to learn about energy, it’s role in the economy and what impact oil depletion will have on it. It’s complicated stuff and largely misunderstood by most even though it fundamentally affects everything and everyone in our globalised economy.
But how many of us have the time to spend hours and hours reading reports from the International Energy Agency, oil companies or the various think tanks? Luckily I do. I have spent the last 2 years reviewing this literature, spreadsheeting data from reputable sources (such as the World Bank, EIA, BP) and coming up with ways to represent this vast quantity of information using principles of graphic design. The result is an approximately three hour long course broken down into separate chapters, 10 to 20 minutes in length, that gradually builds the overall picture so by the end you will be an expert in oil, the role oil price has on the economy, what the future has in store for us and what we can do to reduce the risks we face.
This chapter explains the who, what, why and how of this video series so you can decide if it is for you. It is intended to be a video version of an in depth book, with individual chapters addressing various elements of the oil industry that will help build the overall picture of what peak oil is and how it will affect our economy. The series uses animated info-graphics to compress information found in official reports into a data based narrative that is succinct & easy to understand.
What exactly is oil and why is it so important? This chapter explores how today's modern globalised economy is largely a result of this remarkably energy dense liquid fuel. So many economic and technological miracles, directly and indirectly, stem from this toxic black goo and we have developed an 87 million barrel a day addiction. But our dependance means our economies are highly susceptible to any oil price shocks, such as in 2008 and the one we are living through now.
Concerns regarding oil depletion are often framed in terms of “when will we run out?” But the size of the tap is more important than the size of the tank. It is the tap that controls the flow and the flow is what controls the price. So the real issue is a more complicated problem regarding the balance between supply and demand of this vital liquid fuel that so much economic activity depends on. In other words, peak oil is a problem of energy security.
In order to understand the future we need to understand the past. This chapter covers the last 150 years of oil consumption and explores the many interacting forces that have shaped how and where oil is used today. Some of these forces are more powerful than others. Growth in population and personal income has so far outweighed the smaller force of government policy. But oil price spikes have the power to turn this equation upside down.
In order to get an overall picture of what the future supply and demand balance will be, we need to look at future oil demand. This chapter summaries the recent history of the many organisations that make oil & energy demand forecasts. Their track record has a lot to be desired but understanding the huge uncertainties involved highlights just how easy these projections are to get wrong. Today this uncertainty is as large as ever.
Projections are notoriously inaccurate, but the analysis helps explain the story going on behind the numbers. This chapter takes a more detailed look at this story by comparing each organisation's take on the main economic forces that shape their final numbers. Despite the huge uncertainty, there is near universal agreement on some of these forces. But opinion is divided on the biggest question of all - will supply be able to meet demand.