World Watch magazine sent me a promotional copy of their bi-monthly paper publication. The January/February 2006 issue is devoted to the idea of "peak oil."
Peak oil is the term for the fact that the rate of extraction of oil is increasing more slowly each year, and that sometime between 2008 and 2020, the rate of oil production will begin decreasing, perhaps quite rapidly.
This sounds okay, until you begin to think that it will take us significant time to ramp up alternative energy sources to replace oil as production declines. If it declines too rapidly, we won't be ready. Government sources say that we need at least one decade lead-time to prepare for such a decline.
You know by now that I'm a big fan of renewable energy sources, like solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells, biodiesel and cold fusion. And the biggest source of "new energy" is our own conservation, which we can ramp up very quickly.
So, I'm not that worried (like the poor folks at World Watch!). However, I'd really like to see us beat a faster path towards renewable energy, and dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Politically, environmentally, budgetarily - it all makes sense.
Do we need the Bush Administration on board for this? It would be nice, but that will never happen. Yes, if the federal government declared a "Second Apollo Project" to reduce our dependence on foreign oil down to Zero, that would instantly energize the country and it would happen, much sooner than 2010 (I think).
However, innovation in everything comes from the private sector, never from the government. Even if George W. Bush never declares renewable energy a priority, and even if he is replaced by some idiot like Bill Frist who "stays the course" and stays cozy with Big Oil, we can do everything that we need in the private sector.
Help from the government would be nice, but leave it to us in the private sector. We'll make it so.
P.S. I am 100% behind the Apollo Alliance, I don't mean to belittle their efforts. Please get involved with their worthy effort if you can.