Oil company optimists had insisted for many years that petroleum production worldwide could continue to climb to meet demand. Now, some are saying that within the next decade or two, a “plateau” may be reached. At that point, production may level off for a few decades, before dropping.
The predictions are no cause for immediate alarm; even pessimistic forecasts have placed the production “plateau” at about 100 million barrels of oil a day. That compares to approximately 85 million barrels a day now being consumed.
Still, it isn’t too early to begin finding ways to cope with oil supply that may level off while demand rises steeply. That will mean a mix of alternative sources of energy, including wind and solar power, hydroelectric facilities, nuclear power plants — and increased use of coal.
Most candidates for president would prefer not to talk about that, but it is important for Americans to insist that the issue be addressed realistically — before the challenge becomes a crisis.