Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Accelerating technological change is redefining the way we live, work and play - but energy disruption may render all our technologies obsolete

The big energy debate over the last few years has been around the concept of “peak oil.” There is little doubt that offsetting production declines and bringing more oil to hungry markets like China will challenge the upstream industry, but it’s time for the debate to also include discussion about “peak demand,” and even declining demand. In wealthy mature economies, the data is clearly starting to show it.

SHOOT: Good article.
Peter Tertzakian
George Selden is not a household name like Thomas Edison or Orville Wright, but his influence on our day-to-day lives has been just as great, if not greater. For on May 8th, 1879, Mr. Selden, a New Yorker, applied for a patent on a lightweight “Road Engine” attached to a four-wheeled contraption that looked like two bicycles strapped together in parallel. Selden’s prototype vehicle and application for intellectual protection was the genesis of the gasoline-powered car in America. As a minor digression, it’s worthy to note that in nearby New Jersey, Thomas Edison conducted his seminal incandescent light experiment in October of the same year. It’s rare that we can point to a single year when inventions of such immense influence, the car and the light bulb, indelibly defined the modern template of our society—and our energy appetite.
Figure 1 shows monthly U.S. vehicle road miles driven from January 1990 to March 2009. The first thing to recognize is the seasonal pattern:
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