How Much Oil?
FT.com is carrying a story entitled "Plan Now for a World without Oil". (Subscription required to access.) They cite evidence of the decline in North Sea production and studies showing that total OPEC production could cap out at 40-45 million barrels per day in 2020.
Decline rates and the shape of the total global oil recovery curve (Google on Hubbert Curve for some background) are very controversial. Some experts believe the peak of world oil production is just around the corner; others see it decades away, if it exists at all. This topic is worth a lot more exploration, and I'll be posting a longer discussion on it in the weeks ahead. Suffice to say that if true, this should provide additional incentive for accelerating renewables. It should also put a different light on the value of the oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, and on ensuring free and open access to Iraq's vast untapped reserves.
Unfortunately, the way the commodities markets work, we are unlikely to get a price signal of an impending peak and subsequent decline until it's too late to bring on any alternatives that weren't already in the works.