I have seen Adam Brandt’s name pop up a few times in some of the life cycle analysis literature I have seen so it was good to see him speak as part of the Stanford Uni series I am slowly making my way through.
You can probably divide this talk up in to 2 parts. The first 15 mins is quite a good overview of the whole peak oil debate and Adam’s quite reasonable take on it. The problem is of course is it is virtually impossible to predict the future (which is the whole point of the rest of the talk) but Adam goes through a lot of the issues which helps wrap your mind about what the various future pathways could be. But in general, conventional oil will decline and other oil/liquid fuel sources will replace this. I am in broad agreement with his conclusions that oil prices will have to be in the $100-150 per barrel range to facilitate this and that greenhouse gases will rise as we make the switch. Although it doesn’t capture what oil price shocks and environmental shocks from climate change will do.
The second part of the talk becomes a lot more academic-y as Adam describes his computer simulation model that attempts the impossible of seeing what the future will look like. His approach is take a whole bunch of variables, such as economic growth, oil depletion, carbon tax, etc and show what the various ranges of what could happen with these would do to the overall oil supply picture. Adam is well aware of the limitations of doing this but also sees the value in using these types of models to gain a better understanding of how all these different variables tie together, with the overall aim of trying to find some win-win policy options that would be “robust” no matter what assumptions we decide to make about the future or the uncertainty of these assumptions.
So definitely check out the first 15 mins and then you can judge if you want to check out the rest.