How will our lives change without Oil?

16 September 2008

Last night we watched the documentary “Oil Apocalypse Now?”which talks about extent of the world’s oil supplies.  It paints a bleak picture that the world’s reserves are much smaller than expected, that the costs of new technology to increase the amount of oil from the reserves will have increasingly smaller returns, that the oil sands, while vast, are an expensive environmental disaster, and that the worlds demand for oil is increasing.  The end result is that oil will cease to be available in anything like the quantity or price required to fuel our economy (pun intended) and that this will happen sooner (ten to twenty years) rather than later (fifty to one hundred years).

I like disaster predictions such as this.  There is nothing quite like it to spur creativity:  firstly by creating a definite problem with profound impacts and secondly by presenting almost no immediately apparent solutions.  Its a blank slate.

Certainly there has been much talk about alternative energy in stead of oil.  Cars are going hybrid and then electric/hydrogen.  We will adapt the car.  Even transport rucks could be made electric, but my guess would be that trains make more sense for long distance transportation.  I have never heard anyone talk about the plane or boats though. (Small planes – yes. See this Boeing new release video.)  What happens to world air travel?  What happens to shipping?

Imagine a world where commuting does not involve a car, where manufacturing and food production is local and travel is the vacation.  How would your business change?