Resources and the Environment
The oil reserves have been exploited for many years proving humans with a reliable source of energy. However, it should be noted that the oil resources are not renewable. The oil resources have been declining. In addition, there have been very few new discoveries of the oil reserves in the world. The few that have been discovered to present a lot of challenges in exploitation. As the oil resources are declining, demand for energy consumption has been on the rise. This trend is likely to lead to numerous effects. The world has now embraced the aspect of sustainable development that will ensure that resources are exploited in an appropriate manner. This has led to calls for sustainable development measures. This paper looks at the most likely changes in the production of energy. It will also analyze the effects of the dawning of a post-petroleum age. Furthermore, the paper will illustrate the way in which a major oil producing states can prepare for these changes.
The changes being experienced in the world climate can be attributed to energy. In fact, it has been noted that global warming is an aspect that is majorly caused by energy. In this case, the production and use of energy are blamed for the increased incidences of global warming. There are various aspects that contribute to the increased energy consumption. For instance, in the United States, the migration of people in the southwest region has led to increased energy consumption. In this region, the use of air conditioners is at a higher rate than other regions. There are numerous effects that energy production and use can have on climate change. However, it can be revealed that this area lacks adequate research. Nonetheless, these impacts have notable consequences on the way energy is produced and used. In addition, the changes that occur in the distribution of rainfall are likely to affect the production of hydro-power. Furthermore, hurricanes are known to disrupt oil and gas operations. Therefore, it can be argued that climate change can have far reaching consequences on energy production and consumption. Apart from this, it has to be acknowledged that fossil energy is not a renewable source. Therefore, it will be depleted with time. Thus, the world should be prepared for a situation where there will be no fossil fuel as an energy source. In fact, some countries in the gulf region have started experiencing a reduction in oil production. This is a worrying trend in the world considering that very few new oil reserves are being discovered. In addition, the exploitation of the few new oil reserves that have been discovered come with a lot of challenges. The countries that are predominantly reliant on the oil will face grave economic challenges with the depletion of this critical resource.
The most likely changes in energy production and use
As has been acknowledged, the global warming being experienced is majorly attributed to energy production and usage. At the same time, global warming leads to a change in climate. This change in climate is set to have a great impact on the energy sector. Therefore, the climate changes will determine the change of view with regard to the alternatives available in the energy sector. The impacts resulting from the climate change are set to affect energy policies. For instance, the aspect of global warming is likely to lead to a decrease in demand for the energy required for heating purposes. Consequently, this leads to increased energy demands. Studies have indicated that global warming leads to a substantial increase in the energy needed for cooling. In fact, the energy demand for cooling is said to increase from 5% to 20% for every 1.8oF of warming. On the other hand, the demand for heating energy decreases drastically. Given that cooling is supported by electricity, the demand for electricity production is likely to increase due to global warming (‘Energy Supply and Use,’ n.d.).
Furthermore, the production of energy stands to be affected by the global warming aspect that leads to increased temperature and limited water supply. With rising temperatures, the precipitation is greatly affected thereby leading to increased competition for water resources. This affects the energy production either directly or indirectly. In this case, the production of hydro-power is directly affected. In addition, fossil fuel energy is also affected indirectly. In this case, fossil fuels are intricately associated with adequate water supply (‘Energy Supply and Use,’ n.d.). The thermal power plants use a lot of water in generating energy from fossil fuels. Therefore, limited water supply is likely to affect the production of energy. The production of energy is also affected extreme weather conditions. In the United States, most energy infrastructure is found in the coastal regions. Therefore, an increase in the sea level will inconvenience energy production. In this case, the increased seal level will lead to destruction of equipment and energy infrastructure. In America, the East Coast and the Gulf Coast are regions said to be the most vulnerable to rising sea levels. Apart from the rising sea levels, extreme events are also known to affect the energy production. Extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes have a devastating impact on the energy sector. In this case, the infrastructure gets destroyed, and considerable resources are required to restore and recover the energy installations. Thus, the development of energy facilities is normally restrained by extreme events and sea level fluctuations. In regions that are susceptible to such aspects, a lot of resources are needed in protecting the energy infrastructures. This is a costly affair, and can easily discourage the investors (‘Energy Supply and Use,’ n.d.).
There is no doubt that energy needs are on the rise. However, it can also be noted that fossil fuel is the most used source of energy. This is not a renewable energy source. In fact, the trend in the fossil energy sector does not produce promising results. It has been noted that most of the oil producing countries have already passed their estimated peak production of the oil resource. The few that are yet to reach their peak production are just a few years from reaching this climax. Most researches have estimated that, by 2020, all oil producing countries will have attained their peak production (Edwards, 1997; Birol and Argiri, 1999). Since the oil producing countries rely on the oil production extremely, it is expected that they will become poor when the oil resources become scarce. Studies have indicated that new discoveries of the oil resources are few. On the other hand, the demand for oil is increasing day by day. In over two decades, there are very few oil reservoirs that have been discovered. At the same time, there are numerous challenges that are associated with these new finds. For instance, the Kashagan giant field required heavy investment before it could start producing oil. The field was expected to be operational in 2011 at a cost of over 130 billion dollars (Klare and Feffer, 2008). In addition, the Tupi field that was discovered in Brazil has its own challenges. The field is located about 150 miles off the Brazilian coast. The field will require a lot of funds and advanced technology in its development. Therefore, it is clear that some changes in the energy production have to occur in order to sustain the energy demands. A lot of resources are needed to invest in the energy sector to exploit the resource and protect it from the adverse weather conditions. Furthermore, sophisticated technology is required to exploit oil resources that are found in extreme locations. In addition, there is a need to shift from being reliant on oil for energy. This calls for the adoption of other sources of energy apart from the fossil fuel.
The consequences of the dawning of a post-petroleum age
Many oil producing countries are too dependant on the oil revenue. Most of these countries can be found in the Middle East region. Although some countries such as Venezuela and Iran engage in agricultural activities, it is clear that oil revenues form a pillar of their economy. The prosperity that has come with the oil resources has led to a rapid economic development of these countries. There has also been a remarkable population growth in these countries. As has been noted, the oil resource is set to be exhausted. This is characterized by the decline in the production of the vital resource with very few new oil fields being discovered. This is going to have a great impact on the oil producing countries.
It can be argued that, in the short run, this effect will not be felt. For instance, the already declining productivity is not having considerable impacts on the economies of the oil producing countries. In this case, these economies are being cushioned from the effects owing to the high prices of oil. Nonetheless, in the long run, these impacts are going to be severe and the oil revenue will be insufficient. Thus, those countries that depend on oil revenue to run the government are likely to feel the pinch. Such administrations will have to cut back on some expenses. The most affected areas of government spending include the social spending. This is well captured by Chandler (1994) when analyzing the case of Saudi Arabia “a huge proportion was devoted to social programs, which cannot possibly be sustained in a nation whose population is growing at a rate of nearly 4 percent a year, one of the highest rates in the world” (p. 41). The cutback in social spending is likely to cause negative sentiments from the public. For instance, in Venezuela, there were riots protesting against the withdrawal of subsidies in various sectors of the economy (Moffett, 1995). This had been prompted by the reducing oil revenue that could not be kept at par with the increasing population. The government was forced to apply for a 2.5 billion dollar loan from the IMF to stabilize the economy in 1996 (Vogel, 1996). Therefore, it can be seen that the depletion of oil resources is going to have grave impacts on the economic and social aspects of human life. The world should be well prepared on how to adapt to forge ahead without having to depend on the oil resource.
How major oil producing states should prepare for these changes
It is clear that major changes are anticipated in the energy sector. This is particularly in reference to the use of oil resource as an energy source. With the impending decline in oil production, countries should be ready to adopt alternatives to oil resource. This should be the case for both the oil producing and those that do not produce oil. However, the situation is likely to be worse for major oil producing states. In this case, these states are highly dependant on oil in running their affairs. Countries in the Middle East and others such as Venezuela are highly dependant on oil. These countries should be well prepared for the declining trend in oil production. The viable option for these countries is to invest the revenue from the oil resources in other sectors. This will guarantee a continuous flow of revenue without having to rely too much on oil. Kuwait has invested heavily in foreign countries. This has proved to be beneficial considering that the income from this investment has been critical in boosting the economy. In fact, in recent times, it has been noted that income from the foreign investment surpassed that from oil exports. Nonetheless, it has to be noted that Kuwait heavily invested gasoline stations that are found across Europe. In this case, with the depletion of oil, the investment is going to be affected (Reed, 1996). Therefore, the oil producing countries should invest their oil revenue in different fields such as agriculture to enhance their sustainability even in the post-petroleum age.
The production of the oil energy is on the decline. This is attributed to the fact that the oil resource is not renewable. In addition, there has been very few discoveries of new oil fields that can sustain the ever increasing demand. Countries that have been rich in oil resources are experiencing a decline in this vital resource. These countries are faced with the threat of the crumbling of their economies, which rely heavily on the oil revenue. As the world looks for an alternative source of energy to the diminishing oil resource, states that produce oil have to grapple with the reality of how they can salvage their endangered economies. These states should invest the revenue from the oil resource wisely in different sectors. This will ensure continued revenue from these other sectors. Kuwait has done this, and it has been a great success..