The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Second Letter to Friends and Family

Following up on my letter to Friends and Family back in July, I decided that in light of the sky rocketing oil prices, I would send out another letter to help put the current situation into perspective.


Dear Friends and Family

The devastation from hurricane Katrina is now becoming apparent both in the terrible loss of human life and the total evacuation of New Orleans, a unique and economically important city.

What will probably become more apparent in the coming weeks and months is just how dependent America is on oil. Katrina has stopped production of about 1-2 million barrels of oil a day and a similar amount of refining capacity. This is roughly 5-10% of the daily US oil consumption of 20 million barrels a day. It has also slowed oil imports from abroad as repair work continues on the Ports along the Mississippi river. This is why gas prices have gone from $2.40 to over $3 in some places.

But even before Katrina, the oil production and refining system was operating at near full capacity to met the growing demand of oil in the US and in the developing nations of Asia. Anything could have disrupted this delicate supply chain, it just so happened that Katrina was the event. But now we are even more vulnerable to political instability in oil exporting nations and ever more dependent on their willingness to supply the oil we have become addicted to.

There is also a theory believed among many academics and oil industry insiders that the world many be near it's peak in oil production. That we may not be able to physically continue to increase the rate of extraction of oil from the ground. This is not saying that we will "run out" of oil, but we will have to adjust to a steadily decreasing supply of oil - either through conservation or replacement of other sources, if possible.

This is just something that I would like you to consider. I'm hoping that a better understanding of the issues will give you more perspective on the current situation. Think about it and come to your own conclusions.

You can learn more about the theory of peak oil at these websites:
Good introductions: Wikipedia, Energy Bulletin,,

More scary Scenarios: Saintbryan, Kunstler, Matt Savinar,

Last month I started a blog to write about this subject and I invite you to read more about this at other websites, in particular The Oil Drum, which is run by folks far more expert in the subject area than I have in my research. I wrote two of my own introductions on my blog to the subject of peak oil - "What is Peak Oil?" and "What is Peak Oil? Part 2" about the concept and what this means for our way of life. Also, this subject can be depressing to think about, but really what I am advocating for is a more sustainable way of life.

In the short term, I would like all of you to do what you can can to conserve gasoline during the next 2-3 months while the country adjusts to a temporary loss in supply. More long term, I urge you to think about how you can alter your lifestyle to consume less oil.

Thanks for listening. I invite your questions and comments.

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At 5:22 AM, Blogger City Hippy said...

Hey PeakOil...

That is such a great post...when people ask me about peakoil etc I will now refer them to is easy to read and honest and covers the larger issues at stake brilliantly. It totally connects the dots.

Well done...



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