"Peak Oil, Peak Coal and Energy Availability", Murray (UW)

Start Date/Time: Thursday, December 10, 2009, 12:30 PM
Location: PAA 118 (Phys-Astro Auditorium)


Title: Peak Oil, Peak Coal and Energy Availability
Speaker: James W. Murray, UW School of Oceanography

The argument of Peak Oil is that production of oil, a finite non-renewable geological resource, will ultimately reach a maximum and then decline. There is no debate that this will happen, but there is disagreement about when it will occur. Peak Oil does not mean 'running out of oil' but when the peak has been reached, about 50% of the oil that will be ultimately extracted will have been used. The production and resources of coal can be assessed with similar tools and David Rutledge (Cal Tech) has recently assessed the ultimate resources of coal available both regionally and globally. There are both short term and long range issues. We see the manifestation of the imbalance between supply and demand in the steady increase in the price of oil since 1999. The most significant long term impacts relate to the IPCC scenarios predicting CO2 production from now to 2100. Energy is passing climate change as the 'hot button' issue. Can we have economic growth without growth in energy supply? We need to solve the energy issue as we move forward on solutions to climate change. The solutions are the same- burn less oil and coal: make less CO2. CO2 sequestration has serious issues of scale. The issues of Peak Oil and resource limitation have not been given serious consideration by the climate change community and the impacts could be profound. For this reason it is important to have an open discussion of the data and the issues.