People who have attempted to put a date on the rapture have often been wrong...

Roland Watson makes some really good points over at New Era Investor today (hat tip: Energy Bulletin)...
You are now in the pre-peak oil awareness zone. Over a dozen books have been written. Peak Oil websites have sprung up like one of those oil gushers that used to be common about 50 years ago. Even the mainstream media outlets have let Peak Oil have its say on their pages.
What can we say other than let's hope Peak Oil duly arrives in the 12 months or so and not disappoint us all. It would be rather embarrassing if this defining event delayed itself into next decade and the subject has to undergo the equivalent of water injection to keep the discussion flowing! The attention span of a world, nation and individual only goes so far after all.

In that light, could Peak Oil awareness be approaching a kind of intermediate peak of its own as the discussion level and size of google hits increases by the day? They say we can't predict when Peak Oil will actually rollover, so when should Peak Oil Awareness rollover? Ideally, it peaks itself when the job is done. When energy conservation measures have been put in place, alternate energy sources are beginning to establish themselves and society has made some kind of orderly transition. That is, of course, decades away. What we don't want is a false peak before the real one.

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Professor Goose,

what a moot discussion!

The genuine, mathematical Peak of petroleum supplies will only be known a year or three later.

It is a sliding point -- derived before the fact from current prices divided by new conservation efforts multiplied by changing fuel habits divided by public perception squared by media frenzy plus general panic. Hullabaloo and magick.

It will be derived after the fact by simple arithmetic.

It's a moot discussion.

The Peak that matters is when demand exceeds supplies -- as a permanent state of the market.

That. Is. Here. Now.

If Matt Simmons is correct, and oil is at $100 a barrel by Christmas, there will be no lack of discussion about Peak Oil. And it won't be a discussion of the mathematical Peak. It will be about oil prices peaking. And peaking anew. And peaking anew.

We've got no brakes on prices anymore.

Nothing is going to change the day after peak.

It will be just another day on the production slope except that the amount being pumped that day might be a tad smaller than the day before.

We'll never know for sure whether the bump in the rear view mirror was the peak peak or just one of many bumps on the hill.

to both of you...

no, I think that's right, it's coming sooner or later...ergo, it probably is moot...but it is a provocative thought, especially the point about a recession reducing demand enough to put the peak off just long enough to throw water on our fire...

by all means, I am not changing the mission or the purpose of this blog...I'm just saying that we need to be mindful to keep presenting evidence for our arguments...and if a recession does reduce demand enough that we are no longer over the peak, then we state it as evidence as well.

(I personally don't think that's going to happen...I still think it's Q4 2005)

Pet Peeve Break:

Demand will never exceed supply in anything resembling a free market. Rather, prices will rise until supply equals demand.

No, I am not a "market worshiping economist," but I have had enough training in this area to recognize this basic misunderstanding that is all too often repeated around the peak oil blogistan.

antifa: I don't mean to pick on you--I've seen many others write the same thing and finallly had to post a comment on it.

Re: Eschatologically Speaking

Roland's making a good point, there have been premature predictions in the past. Second Coming? Well, sort of. The original miracle was Hubbert predicting the US peak in 1970/71. And, biblically speaking, It Did Come To Pass. And Inevitably We Shall See The Second Coming (for we are all in Need Of Redemption) -- except The Peak Can Not Be Know Except in Retrospect but like The End Of The World, none of us can agree on the date. 8)

From Matthew 16:27
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

From Antifa 1:1: "The Peak that matters is when demand exceeds supplies -- as a permanent state of the market."

And So It Will Come To Pass... (but will not be the End Of The World)

JLA, seriously now. Of course demand can exceed supply. And therefore prices will rise and rise and rise.... Economists assume that natural resource supplies are infinite and the market makes adjustments. Oil is a finite resource but human demand for transportation, heating, plastics, food etc. will simply slack off until the market is in balance?

Technically, no. Economics is about the production and distributions of SCARCE resources. If the world demands "x" barrells of oil at $60 a barrell, but the supplly of the commodity drops to x-1, then prices will be bid up until quantity demanded drops and the market balances. Similarly, if we find another Ghawar in Oklahoma and available supply rises, prices will be bid down.

One way or another, the market balances. Prices may rise and rise as desperate people bid up the price of increasingly scarce oil, but demand will drop to equal supply as prices rise.

I suppose it's really a technical point...we all know what "demand exceeding supply" means. That's why I prefaced my comment by calling it a pet peeve.

Yes, its a technical point, "demand will drop to equal supply as prices rise" sometime in the future (2015, 2025, 2035, 2040?). But the decline in human living standards (or the number of humans who can live on the planet) happens as we go along. That's what is all about. No shortage of humans at the moment but as far as oil and gas goes, there is no lack of agreement anywhere that these resources will diminish and finally tap out. What will happen to mitigate or alleviate the situation as time goes on is the only issue.

Here's another way to look at it:

If luxury housing were available for $1/square foot, most Americans would demand very large houses. But housing is much more expensive than this, and each prospective purchaser/renter must decide how much housing they want to purchase based upon their budget constraint and individual preferences. The higher the price, the less housing space they will generally demand.

Oil demand may be somewhat inelastic (i.e., quantity demanded is resistant to change in the face of price changes), but the same basic dynamic is at work.

No argument here: We're in deep doo doo, and such technical points pale in comparison to the significance of the larger point. I was just voicing a pet peeve.

I knew that Rapture reference was going to get everyone riled. *snicker*

I meant the Blondie song, of course. Really. :)

Lucky for us, we have a highly scientific way of measuring the proximity of the Rapture: The Rapture Index!!!

What is the Rapture Index? Well, check it out for yourself...and be sure to check out item 8.

Current (and past) animal extinctions provide the best example for me. Consider the Black Rhino (charismatic megafauna, I know):

The main threat facing all these rhino, and particularly the black rhino, is man. Poachers kill rhino, not for meat for food, but to get the horns which they sell. Rhino horn is highly valued in certain parts of the world for medicinal and cultural reasons [Chinese medicine, daggar handles in Yeman]

And the killing goes on and the price for the horn rises and therefore, the killing goes on and the prices rises some more.... And of course, eventually there will be no more, I mean zero, black rhinos left. This is called "extinction" for the species in question.

This is the best way for me to express my point.

Have a good one, best

Rapture? Although I am not, in fact, a baptized Christian who believes Jesus saves, I still expect to get taken up on some sort of, you know, exception, when it happens.... 8)

1) I don't think economists own the word demand. But if they want to claim that it only refers to the amount consumed at market clearing prices, they should give us another word to make the point that antifa is making. I guess the answer may be that supply is going to be insufficient to give people as much oil as they want or need, but will meet their demand.

2) Who says "Economists assume that natural resource supplies are infinite and the market makes adjustments." ? I think that the free market fundamentalists that peak oil proponents think all economists are "assume that natural resource supplies are infinite and the market makes adjustments." My read on this is that economists sometimes asks some tough questions, which peak oil advocates interpret as hostility. But when the questions are answered they can and do change their minds. The word "Economist" should not be used as a proxy term for "those evil bastards who are always trying to prove peak oil is not real." Economists and peak oil believers are not mutually exclusive.


Demand can indeed exceed supply. The price will rise and we will have rationing based on elevated price. You say that this means that demand cannot exceed supply. In your world. In other worlds there will be a buffer between "market" forces and demand. All that is certain is that the entire production capacity will be consumed. How it is allocated, will not necessarily be determined by economic theory because the major players will not respect the ground rules and indeed will be inventing new ones.

Does anyone have any figures on how much demand for oil dropped during the last recession? Figures from around 1989-1992 might be best as there was a bit of a housing price crash then too.

The only periods actual demand decline from 1981 on are:

1981, 82, 83: -3.4, -2.3, -1.3%

Average annual demand growth from 1981 to 2005(est): 1.15%
Average annual demand growth from 1984 on: 1.71%

(I'm sure demand shrunk or was negative in 1980 as well, just don't have pre 80 data handy).

Leading up to this were the following:

# OPEC decides on 14.5% price increase for 1979
# Iranian revolution; Shah deposed
# OPEC raises prices 14.5% on April 1, 1979
# US phased price decontrol begins
# OPEC raises prices 15%
# Iran takes hostages; President Carter halts imports from Iran; Iran cancels US contracts; Non-OPEC output hits 17.0 million b/d
# Saudis raise marker crude price from 19$/bbl to 26$/bbl
# Windfall Profits Tax enacted
# Kuwait, Iran, and Libya production cuts drop OPEC oil production to 27 million b/d
# Saudi Light raised to $28/bbl
# Saudi Light raised to $34/bbl
# First major fighting in Iran-Iraq War
# President Reagan abolishes remaining price and allocation controls
# Spot prices dominate official OPEC prices
# US boycotts Libyan crude; OPEC plans 18 million b/d output
# Syria cuts off Iraqi pipeline

Non OPEC supplies grew rapidly but OPEC was still key. Demand started to grow again as prices came back with OPEC production starting to turn back up again, with the following as a back drop 83 / 84 time frame:

# Libya initiates discounts; Non-OPEC output reaches 20 million b/d; OPEC output drops to 15 million b/d
# OPEC cuts prices by $5/bbl and agrees to 17.5 million b/d output
# Norway, United Kingdom, and Nigeria cut prices
# OPEC accord cuts Saudi Light price to $28/bbl
# OPEC output falls to 13.7 million b/d
# Saudis link to spot price and begin to raise output
# OPEC output reaches 18 million b/d

And prices plummeted... and demand skyrocketed - the average demand growth in the five years following 83 was over 2%.

Jack: Many thanks for sticking up for the economists.

Two clarifications, if I may:

1. No economist that I've ever met literally believes that a high enough price will create an infinite supply of oil. Nearly all believe that given time high prices will spur the creation of substitute fuels or alternate ways of doing things (making plastics, transporting people and goods). This is the fundamental disconnect between economists and non-economists, I believe. When an economist says "high prices will cause industries and people to adapt and find new solutions," this is what they mean, NOT that we'll find a magic way to turn sea water into gasoline.

2. Many of us ARE evil bastards. Seriously. You should see the freak show that turns out for the monthly secret meetings. It's almost enough to make me quit and throw my Alan Greenspan Secret Decoder Ring into the river.

Wow, Lou, do you get a toaster with membership? :) sounds peachy-keen.

Yes, I agree that even if peak is 2005, we wouldn't know for a few years. However, a new demand record going into 2006 would disprove it. The ultimate peak itself has of course been pushed out by the combined effect of previous recessions.

Just being cautious basically, things have a habit of blowing up in one's face. To use a comparison, some commentators have predicted a depression for decades. Their reasoning is good and I agree with the basic tenets, it just never happens when you expect it though!

Thanks for the previous oil demand changes in previous recessions.

(That's irritating.  HaloCrap ate my comment of earlier today.)

There's one way to guarantee a peak of oil production, and that is to make something that does oil's job better than oil does.  When the price of oil is capped by another technology to provide transportation energy, investment in new oil-production gear will stop.  Further investment will go into the new technology.

For examples of this look at vacuum tubes, vinyl audio recordings, and rental movies on magnetic tape.

Yeah, EP, haloscan ate mine too. And it was an important post!

I actually apologized to Jack for saying "Economists assume that natural resource supplies are infinite and the market makes adjustments." As he suggests, I should have said "Free market fundamentalists assume that natural resource supplies are infinite and the market makes adjustments." I stand corrected.

Some economists I admire:
John Kenneth Galbraith
John Maynard Keynes
Paul Krugman (Princeton, op-ed for the NY Times)

Also, Lou's quote

Nearly all believe that given time high prices will spur the creation of substitute fuels or alternate ways of doing things (making plastics, transporting people and goods). This is the fundamental disconnect between economists and non-economists, I believe.

Speaking for the non-economists, I agree with your statement. However, this "markets adjust" view lacks a planning function. It all happens after the fact. I think we all agree that the current US energy policies are a joke as we (the PO community) look ahead. For a fundamental resource like energy, when scarcity hits, substitutes will get developed and behavour will change but I fear these new ways of doing things will be too little, too late and very very painful for the people who are forced to do the adjusting. On the other hand, if we'd had some foresight and starting preparing for the coming scarcity years ago, we'd all be in a much better position.

There is rather less difference between us than you imagine. I'm a big fan of Deborah Harry, PG, and also sign me up for that Alan Greenspan Secret Decoder Ring. 8)

Someone was asking for a comparison of price of crude against economic performance - here's same in chart form 1980 through 2005 (with some estimating on my part and IMF for 2005):

Shows oil demand growth and GDP growth vs price of oil in nominal and adjusted dollars. Data for gdp$/cpi$ is from the EIA.

From Dave:
Some economists I admire:
John Maynard Keynes
Paul Krugman

Dave, that makes me think you have not still gone thru the entire paradigm shift that PO implies. Those economists were/are certainly brilliant guys, but their work is valid only for PRE-peak times, i.e. for the uphill path, and then only on condition that there would never be a peak oil, gas, coal, uranium, etc.

Starting with the observation that most modern economic activity is a one off affair, in that
- it involves the consumption of non-renewable resources, and
- it does not lead to the establishment of a renewable energy source.
(The counterexample would be the burning of coal, oil, etc. involved in building and setting up a wind farm or dam or solar panel.)

It follows that encouraging a high rate of growth of that economic activity implies just hastening the consumption of those non renewable resources, generally at the same time making society ever more dependent on those resources for functioning, and without making any provision for the future depletion of those resources.

This observation can be ignored while the start of depletion is far off into the future, because, as Keynes said, "in the long term we are all dead". Only he should have added, to fully express the implied meaning of his statement "and we do not give a **** for those who will be alive then."

You sure remember the area of the triangle: (Base * Height)/2. If the area is constant, a higher height implies a narrower base. The area in question is the ultimate recoverable resource, a physical constraint. A steeper upslope (higher economic growth rate) means a steeper downslope too. Which implies a more traumatic impact for societies after the peak.

I do not mean that the best case is those Amazonian tribes that have never seen any benefit from fossil fuels and so will no be impacted in the least from its depletion. But I do mean that government intervention to stimulate the economy has been most unwise, in the face of the long term constraints (actually not so long term now) imposed by the underlying physical system. (Straight talking, and contrary to the policies that Krugman advocates in "The return of Depression Economics", during the Depression all the US Government should have done is provide a subsistence subsidy for the unemployed. Ditto for the Japanese government since 1990.) Moreover, after the peak the impact of that sort of intervention will be negative in the short term too. To show why, I will borrow from Chris Skrebowski pub and beer metaphor.

Think of a pub and its customers. The pub may or may not have beer, and the customers may or may not have thirst. (Let's assume that in the latter case they are allowed to remain in the pub just chatting.) The combinations are:
- pub has beer, customers have thirst: pre-PO good economic times. Everyone is happy.
- pub has beer, customers do not have thirst: pre-PO recessions. Pub owner is unhappy, and he resorts to give the customers heat (by turning off A/C) to make them thirsty = stimulative monetary policy aka print money
- pub does not have beer, customers have thirst: post-PO with unsuitable pre-PO stimulative monetary policy. The customers may get angry, probably violent.
- pub does not have beer, customers do not have thirst: post-PO with suitable "tight" monetary policy. The owner and the customers are as content as they can be in these circumstances. They might occassionally remember with nostalgy the days when there was beer and they have thirst.

I'd appreciate feedback on this comment, as I'm thinking of writing a short essay on this. The title could be "Peak ends with K". With Keynes, Krugman, Kondratieff, and the fears of gold Konfiskation too.


shoud have been:

"with nostalgy the days when there was beer and they HAD thirst."


Mike, how do you calculate demand, as distinct from amount of oil consumed in a given year?

Oil produced/consumed fell from 2000-2001 and from 2001-2002. But you have demand rising during that time. How do you get that?

That's an interesting post, ST. I assume you saw my 2nd post (mostly addressed to a remark by Lou Grinzo). I admire those people I listed because they were/are brilliant economists and understood/understand perfectly the limits of economics to guide human affairs. With regard to the planning function I referenced, that needs to come from outside the marketplace. And the only other place there is involves political leadership and the government. Sorry, I know that's a despised and unfashionable "liberal" position, but that's reality. Remember Jimmy Carter. But, its much too late for that anyway. We should already have gone through that planning phase. So, forget it. By the way, I'd forgotten the Keynes quote "in the long term we are all dead". Thanks for that!

And "and we do not give a **** for those who will be alive then."
My actual primary interest is climate change. I just posted on that here at the OilDrum yesterday. And your remark here is about as good as it gets in describing the prevalent human attitude regarding the current and future warming of the Earth. Finally,

pub does not have beer, customers have thirst: post-PO with unsuitable pre-PO stimulative monetary policy. The customers may get angry, probably violent


not still gone thru the entire paradigm shift that PO implies.

I'm not advocating a "stimulative monetary policy" here (see above). I believe I have gone through the paradigm shift, which is this: there's very little we can do now when the beer's gone and the crowd's thirsty.


One more thing, ST: I still do believe the political leadership ought to implement the "energy Manhattan Project" advocated by Congressman Bartlett. It may be too little, too late, but its better than nothing. This is a bit of government monetarist stimulation, I know, but what the hell! we've got little left to lose. Why don't we divert some of those many many many billions of dollars out of Iraq and work on some future energy needs.

have a good one

Halfin - I've double checked my numbers - I used from 1995 onward the BP Statistical Review (2005); I used EIA or IMF numbers frmo 1980 to 1994. The data series I used in both cases is consumption not production. You are correct about the double dip, but that was production related only. According to the numbers I can find, there was only a single year dip in *consumption*.

I see that the aftermath of the 9/11 attack had a fairly minimal impact on US consumption of oil. Looking at consumption not production, nly 2002 had a slight dip in crude inputs to refineries according to the EIA Annual Energy Review.

If the US economy could stand the shock of 9/11 and barely dent consumption then I hate to think what would actually reduce usage. A recession will slow demand growth; only a major event such as the oil embargo days or a global depression would cause an actual reduction in demand.

Seems like we will be heading for the cliff at a decent clip. Now if only we knew for sure when to jump out of the car before it goes over...

Just had a chance to look at your graph, Mike. Oil demand change trending steeply upward after 9/11. It correlates with GDP right up until last year when GDP and Oil Demand diverge in a bad way, the former declining, the latter increasing still. I assume that's the cliff you're referring to? Would now be a good time to jump out of the car?

How much of this increase can be attributed to filling of petroleum reserves, and how much to reduced fuel economy for e.g. the SUV craze?

The graph of Δ oil consumption looks a lot like the graph of Δ GDP; the recessions stand out, and the last time oil prices headed opposite to GDP was around the Asian financial crisis.  It stands to reason that anything which can replace oil as an energy source for transport will decouple GDP from oil prices.

I like that idea.  I have no love lost for theocracies, and I would love to see two of them have to either change or try to survive on a diet of crude.

Oil demand change trending steeply upward after 9/11. It correlates with GDP right up until last year when GDP and Oil Demand diverge in a bad way, the former declining, the latter increasing still.

We should remember that the 2005 number, the final plot, is an estimate. So far this year I've tended to lean on the side that the estimates have been a little on the low side (and did the IMF not just reduce its expectations for 2005?), as economic performance has been generally more robust than expectations. Even Europe may pick up a little steam into the final quarters.

I assume that's the cliff you're referring to? Would now be a good time to jump out of the car?

Leaving aside PO for a moment, it could mean that we are around the corner from a recession. GDP growth has a habit of surging for a few years and then slacking off. It may be time for it to slack off, if not this year then next. If that were the case then it would be time to unload energy investments soon.

High oil does appear to be having a real impact in less well developed economies. Perhaps another round of "Asian Contagian" is due. Note the reports from South Korea, Japan and one or two others I can't recall - no suit jackets at work, turn air conditioning up a few notches, etc - clearly there are impacts that we are not noticing here in the relatively comfy west as yet.

Bringing PO back into the picture again, if indeed PO is right around the corner then GDP is going to tank hard very soon, but my guess is we won't see PO for a while yet or be able to fully recognize it as such. There still seem to be sufficient projects coming on stream with output to meet some increase in demand, particularly if a recession slowed down the rate of growth of demand for awhile.

I'm envisioning a "bumpy peak", whenever it comes, fueled by a panic, then some recovery, then another panic, and recovery but not quite so solid as before and so on until... panic.

Mike, the majority of petroleum goes for transport.  Hybrids are all but certain to constitute a fast-rising fraction of the vehicles on the road, and most hybrids appear to be capable of using either complete replacement of gasoline with electricity (Prius and similar) or supplementation (I've heard of a grid-charged Insight).

Why wouldn't your "bumpy peak" involve more and more vehicle lines going hybrid, and more and more hybrid owners adding batteries and chargers?  Once a Prius has the Prius+ conversion, they're well-nigh immune to motor fuel prices for short trips; add solar panels to charge it and they're immune to electricity prices too.  Once this phenomenon gets rolling I don't see it stopping short of the really difficult cases.

Engineer-poet: can you provide some idea of how the whole world can move from our present energy set-up to one where electricity provides everything? What materials are needed and will they ever 'run out'? It seems to me that if we want something like our present society to continue it will have to be nuclear energy (fast breeder reactors especially)that provides the electricity but how do we get from society functioning OK-ish with nuclear and then project forward 200 years or so where, with continuing economic growth, we produce in about 5 days what we produce in a year now?
All the talk of replacing the car fleet with shiny new Priuses is a real deadend. The lesson I'm taking from Peak Oil (and the coming of peak gas, peak uranium, peak water, rising extinction rates, rising stress, depression levels and medication levels) is that our society bonds that keep individuals part of a larger group, is imploding and we need to find a living and working arrangement that doesn't ask too much of the planet's ecosystems. Do we really need more techo-fixes that promise the earth but actually require two or three more earths to give everyone the lifestyle that us western types have?

E-P: It really depends on lead time as to whether mass conversion to hybrids works out or not, and what economic (and geopolitical) environment is in place.

And it really depends on what is communicated to the public. We really only have one oil crisis previous to look at for as a reference case. Yes, there was a drive towards smaller cars and fuel efficiency, but it didn't make much difference in the end. For example, even after the oil embargo, 30+ years ago, world consumption did not dip that much. 63Mb/d in 1980, 61 in 1981, 59.5 in 1982, 58.8 in 1983 and then consumption started to rise again.

If the first peak is reached (if not caused in part) at a time of geopolitical or significant economic instability, can we be so sure that sufficient numbers of consumers will be able to afford the investment into a Prius or other alternatives?

In a bad scenario, global markets are falling; real estate bubbles bursting, and all of a sudden you have a scenario where people are not spending money (which helps to reinforce the initial downturn) and then layoffs... etc - well its very easy to imagine a scenario where not much has to go wrong before the world faces something akin to 1998 but lasts much longer.

1998 was somewhat intangible and difficult to picture for many people, I suspect. There were lots of rumblings but it was all to do about someone else - Asian countries with their problems, not at "home". Even as LTCM became a front page story, for the average person it was all a little over the top what with talk of rocket scientists making bad bets with leverage and derivatives. Then a few bad weeks on the stock market and suddenly markets climbed back out of the mess and all was forgotten.

Here we have a different story. Its oil, everyone can relate to that. If (when) the first sign of a peak becomes obvious to the masses, there is certain to be panic, depending on the time scale. Then we might see different behaviour but it also may spiral quickly into a situation where few have the resources to change.

The average person on the street doesn't know what PO is; the few that have heard about it keep hearing reassuring talk from various groups - 20, 50 years out it is, they say - its not "today's" problem.

And it may not be. Maybe it is 10 years out or more.

But maybe not.

I hope its a "bumpy peak" and further I hope the recent price rise is a "speed bump" and a wake up call.

But I fear that most political and business leaders will come to the conclusion that what we are witnessing these days has more to do with unprepared producers not expecting such a rebound in global economies following the market bubble. I fear they won't take the steps required to more carefully look at the situation and ascertain more accurately what the current status is by demanding data reforms and forcing transparency on a global scale.

My biggest fear is that we manage to get past a little speed bump here, do nothing, and waste time rather than meeting the challenge head on.

Heck I'd settle for simply meeting the challenge of better understanding the nature and scope of the problem. Clearly that needs to be a first goal as its impossible to come up with plans and prioritization until the size and timing of the problem is better known.

Hmnnn... speaking of potential disruptions, Emily took another slight turn to the north, continuing what appears to be a trend over the reports since Wed:

265 / 270 / 270 / 275 / 275 / 285 / 285 / 285 / 285 / 285 / 280 / 285 / 285 / 290 / 290 / now 295 degrees as of 2am AT / back to 290 now this morning. I understand some or all of Mexico's off shore workers are pulled in...

That's a really difficult bunch of questions to answer, because there are so many different possibilities.

I usually limit my calculations to the USA because I have relatively complete data for it and it "scratches my personal itch".  On the other hand, if you take the USA lifestyle as a baseline all you need to do is multiply by 20 to apply it to the whole world.

Getting down to brass tacks:  Running the entire US transport system on electricity would require on the order of 183 GW average power (add losses in transmission and batteries, subtract savings from greater efficiency).  The average US electric consumption is on the order of 440 GW, and total nameplate generating capacity is ~950 GW.

The USA has approximately 1.2 TW (average) of potential wind-power resources, and roughly 100,000 km^2 of impervious area (roofs, roads and the like).  If 25% of this impervious area were covered with PV cells at 25% efficiency (future technology), the peak output in full sunlight would be 6.25 TW; the average might be 20% of that, or 1.25 TW.  That looks like plenty of room for expansion.

Materials:  I calculated that powering the entire US vehicle fleet with zinc-air cells and keeping enough zinc on hand to give each vehicle 60 kWh of energy in reserve would require ~43 kg/vehicle, or 8.6 million tons for the US's 200 million vehicles.  World zinc production runs about 8.5 million tons a year, so you could build this inventory with a 10% increase in production for a decade.  Want double the inventory?  Boost production 20%, or do it more slowly.  Doing this for the whole world would take a while.

Suppose you decided to use lithium-based batteries instead and you pulled it out of seawater.  Seawater is ~200 ppb lithium by weight, and the mass of the oceans is ~1.4 × 10^21 kg for a total of ~2.8 × 10^14 kg of lithium.  If you can get 10% of that economically, your total available lithium is 2.8 × 10^13 kg.  That's 2.8 metric tons per capita for 10 billion people (not that I think we should ever have 10 billion people on Earth, but they sure wouldn't have to run out of lithium).

I could go on, but you should get the idea by now.

in my opinion, all speculative numbers about potential fixes are almost meaningless.

in the long run, the only numbers that mean anything are percent of energy from renewable sources(and percent of transport), and rate of renewable energy growth.

all talk about what might happen, such as "if 25% of this impervious area were covered with PV cells at 25% efficiency (future technology)"
sounds like just wild speculation to me.

the reason i think well have a problem is that despite the big increase in oil prices,
the amount of renewable energy growth is still very small.
maybe it needs time to kick in. but im just not seeing it. all i see is people paying a lot more for energy, with no significant solutions on the horizon.

I am certainly not dogmatically opposed to government intervention. It just can be wise or unwise.

E.g. I think that industrialized societies must start now setting up wind farms massively, and that it just won't happen if you leave that to the market. That would be a kind of wise government intervention, and if they have to print money for that purpose, go print it.

On the other hand, stimulating consumption such as PK proposes for the Japanese is plain idiocy once you factor PO in. If they are happy just eating, let them live the way they want.