Seattle Peak Oil Awareness, a group consisting of engineers, computer experts, and concerned citizens, believes that the world will soon start running out of petroleum. It warns that conditions such as those that occurred during the Great Depression may result if peak oil is reached and no contingency plan is formulated. Peak oil refers to the point when half of the world’s oil supply has been pumped from the earth.
Groups concerned about peak oil predict a dramatic shortage in petroleum after the peak is reached. High gasoline prices, shortages, and long lines at the pump are expected.
“I think we’re looking at recession upon recession upon recession, but not a complete breakdown of civilization,” said Seattle Peak Oil Awareness member Dave Reid, who has prepared for the possible event by investing in gold, installing solar panels in his home, and living near a light-rail line, which may still be operational in the event of peak oil.
Groups similar to that in Seattle are emerging across the United States, despite industry assertions that there is nothing to be concerned about.
“People have been prophesizing the end of the industry for 150 years,” said American Petroleum Institute Chief Economist John Felmy.
Debate exists around when peak oil will be reached and whether other forms of energy can be substituted in time to avoid a chronic crisis. Cambridge Energy Research Associates, an oil consulting firm, projects that world oil production will not peak until 2037, with it hitting an “undulating plateau” before declining.