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Global Oil Depletion | Alister Hamilton
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Global Oil Depletion | Alister Hamilton

It's much sooner than we think
46
Transcript

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When do you think we’ll run out of oil?

2050? 2100? Never? That’s understandable given the IPCC models access to oil until 2100; politicians like Rishi are betting big on North Sea deposits. Petroleum is the life blood of our global economy, and it’s difficult to imagine it drying up. More often, when we talk about transitioning away from fossil fuels, it’s because of the necessity to limit global warming—not because we run out.

But a team in Scotland are warning exactly that—we’re running out. Fast. Alister Hamilton is a researcher at the University of Edinburgh and the founder of Zero Emission Scotland. He and his colleagues self-funded research into oil depletion around the world and the results are shocking: We will lose access to oil around the world in the 2030s.

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They calculated this by establishing the Energy Return On Investment (EROI) and found that whilst there will still be oil deposits around the world, we would use more energy accessing the oil supply than we would ever get from burning it. This is because we’re having to mine further into the earth’s crust to access lower-grade oil. According to their calculations, the oil in the North Sea will be inaccessible—in a dead state—by 2031, and the oil in Norway by 2032. Around the world, oil reserves see the same trend through the 2030s.

Petroleum is the life blood, and we haven’t yet built out a different circulatory system to support renewable energy—in less than a decade, the world as know it could crash.

© Rachel Donald

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Planet: Critical
Planet: Critical
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.