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Changes in the shadow of Hubbert’s Peak

U.S. citizens may as well get used to the high gas prices — it’s only going to get worse. In the coming years, humanity will have to face Hubbert’s Peak.

The term refers to a mathematical model by geophysicist M. King Hubbert, who, in 1956, set out to predict how much oil would be available in contrast to what the demand would be at that given time. The “peak” of this model was to indicate the moment in time when the oil supply started to decline while the need for it kept rising, possibly triggering a global energy crisis.

The accuracy of the model was proven in the 1970s when oil production started to decline.

Some theoreticians, however, say the peak has not passed yet and predict it will occur in 2007. But even if the peak is still two years off, it is becoming a reality that oil will be an even more sought-after commodity in the near future.

The trend cannot be reversed. Oil is a finite commodity and there is little we can do to change that fact; nor can the fact be changed that continually emerging nations — such as China and India — are also putting heightened demand on oil.

What can be done, though, is placing more emphasis on conservation. Instead of focusing on building bigger cars that consume even more gas, attention needs to be paid to on how to make cars more efficient.

Politicians should have an easy time convincing their constituents that such reforms are necessary. Not only are citizens seeing the effects every time they step up to a gas pump, most are also aware of the dependency the United States has on other nations due to its oil consumption.

In the long run, we will need to come up with alternatives that replace non-renewable sources, such as oil, as much as possible. This will take time and effort. But the alternative is to keep relying on a source of energy that is bound to become more scarce and expensive as time progresses.