Residents in areas surrounding the Baldwin Hills oil wells are conducting a sustained anti-fracking campaign. (Fracking is fracturing the land by injecting fluids into cracks, forcing them to further open, allowing more oil and gas to flow out.) Fracking causes serious environmental problems including safety and health hazards.
Peak oil-the peaking of global oil production- is far less known but remains a major issue although interest in it has diminished since 2008. Most people have never heard of peak oil but it could have devastating ramifications, especially for Blacks and other disenfranchised people throughout the world. Global warming, climate change and fracking capture headlines but, the U.S. Department of Energy projected global oil production would peak or plateau in the foreseeable future.
Dr. Robert Hirsch at the National Energy Technology Laboratory issued a report several years ago, “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management.” The report concluded peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem and without timely mitigation, the economic, social and political costs will be unprecedented. In 2007, the National Petroleum Council, representing the oil industry, said “Because the world’s population is growing and living standards are rising worldwide, energy consumption globally is expected to rise by more than fifty-percent over the next twenty-five years, requiring huge new investments.”
David Miller, MBA, a Black energy specialist, noted predictions of peak oil in coming decades are misleading and alleviate a needed sense of urgency about running out of oil. “Now is the time to widely distribute and implement large amounts of capital and research—in the case of global oil peak, this is no longer a luxury.”
A LA Times article (2008) by Elizabeth Douglass said, “With gasoline and oil costing once unthinkable barrels of cash, the notion that things in our petroleum-addicted world will soon get worse, maybe much, much worse, is spreading fast,” adding that fear of a diminished supply of crude oil has pushed the price sky high.
Blaine D. Pope, Ph. D, M.I.A., M.P.A., a colleague of David Miller, applauded Douglass’ article and urged people to ask, “What are the implications for the Black community?….What should we do?” According to Pope, behind today’s oil mania is a deeper threat that the world has found all the easy-to-reach oil and the supply will fall further and further behind, escalating global demand.
The Times article said day-to-day costs of oil reflects a sharply weaker dollar, market speculation and geopolitical events such as unrest in Nigeria and other oil-exporting countries. At the same time, it notes, producers are barely satisfying the world’s energy thirst and the market increasingly is fixated on long-term supply. Experts caution that above-ground issues threaten to impose a “practical peak” on oil output that could be just as wrenching as the geologic peak.
The International Agency, a watchdog for industrialized nations, said the world has reached “a peak of easily accessible oil,” (tacitly admitting to peak oil, says Blaine Pope.) The agency led a reassessment of the worldwide outlook for all oil supplies, investment and production.
Douglass’ story also noted by 2013, demand for oil might exceed 94 million barrels a day and continue rising, spurred by growth in China and India, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2008, experts put daily global production at between 82 million and 86 million barrels and even the most optimistic oil authorities can’t see production keeping up with demand without a boost from unconventional sources. (Pope insists more and more money is being spent to get at less and less petroleum.)
Robert Hirsch’s views reflect the core principle of peak oil that global crude petroleum will crest sooner than expected and then begin a precipitous decline. Some say the peak has already occurred, others feel it won’t arrive for another decade and, increasingly, still others feel peak oil will not occur.
In any case, Peak oil is a complex issue that could affect the entire world. Since Blacks remain economically and politically disenfranchised, they are among those who would suffer most from peak oil’s destructive ramifications. David Miller stresses Americans are not immune from global phenomena and explores problems and solutions related to natural resource decline, global warming and peak oil. His research includes energy, food, culture, water, sea level lives, public and private partnerships and job creation.
Blaine Pope poses this question: “If the representatives of the rich and affluent are getting ready for global change, including peak oil, what should representatives of the poor and disadvantaged be doing?” Convinced peak oil is a reality, he urges Black leadership to plan accordingly, “We’ve been sleepwalking around these important issues for too long. Our future started yesterday, don’t sleep this one, my people.”