Stacy Feldman of solveclimate.com wrote a prescient post today about the coming clash between growing car demand and peak oil. Basically, there will be so many new cars added to the road in the next ten years (think China, India) that global petroleum usage will increase overall, even with drastic fuel efficiency increases. Add to that the eventual economic depletion of oil, and we have a a bit of a situation on our hands:
(1) The number of cars on the road globally will hit 1 billion by 2011.
(2) The world’s oil will peak by 2015, according to the CEO of Shell.
Better fuel efficiency + more cars = more oil burned.
Mull this over and America’s new CAFE standards of 35 mpg seem rather impotent. What’s needed is a multi-pronged approached to energy independence, based on three primary concepts:
- Conservation: Improving public transportation and increasing average fuel efficiency above 35 mpg.
- Substitution: Increasing biofuel use to at least 35% by 2020 (see previous announcements 1 and 2).
- Technology: Implementing advanced technologies like plug-in hybrids and electric cars.
Each of these has the potential to make a substantial dent in America’s petroleum usage, but none of them can do it alone, and none of them should be overemphasized.
What will it take to move all three of these forward? Mandates? Incentives? Dictatorship? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
For a few ways you can reduce your dependence on petroleum, see the Biodiesel Guide: