Out Of Gas: The Disturbing Truth About Oil
Interest in alternative energy sources and improved fuel-economy standards grew after the crisis, but was undercut by the return of low oil prices that paved the way for gas-guzzling SUVs and energy short-sightedness.
In 2006, the climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" grabbed world attention and two Oscars, while "A Crude Awakening," a documentary about the peak oil crisis went straight to video. Who benefits from keeping the public uninformed or misinformed about the subject?
The Three Profiteers
Both sides of the peak oil question agree that confusion ultimately benefits the powerful and the profiteers. Misinformation and fears about reserves of oil allows OPEC nations and oil companies to inflate the price per barrel of oil. They foster and exploit public confusion and anxiety to profit from oil as much as they can for as long as they can.
Raymond Learsy, an energy consultant and forecaster has a different theory: he says peak oil is being overhyped by oil interests.
"That fear is played upon relentlessly by the oil producers and their allies in government, on Wall Street and a largely somnolent press," Learsy said. "For years the oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporters, has been instructing us that oil is in short supply and they are simply limiting production to husband a scarce resource."
Learsy believes a changeover to alternative energy sources is crucial because of oil's role in climate change, but he says there is enough oil available to foster that changeover without resorting to higher oil prices and taxes that only hurt average consumers while lining the pockets of the oil industry.
Fringe believers aren't the only ones concerend about what happens after the peak. In 2005, then Congressmen Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Tom Udall (D-NM) formed the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus because they believe it is an urgent issue and preemptive changes are crucial to reduce the country's dependency on oil for economic, environmental and security reasons.
The International Energy Agency, a powerful, usually conservative energy-analysis organization, said in 2010 that the world has until 2030 before demand overwhelms supply. The organization does not predict a cataclysm, but they warn of severe environmental and economic problems if the world doesn't shift to renewable energy sources.
But there's a twist.