Avoiding a Global Transport Crisis Following the Depletion of Oil and Gas Supplies: A Crucial Case of Social Responsibility
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Most global transportation systems rely on oil as a fuel (or its derivatives of
bunker fuel, diesel or gasoline), and for lubricants. Oil mostly powers the machines of
agriculture, the transportation of food and goods along the roads, and the international
shipping that moves bulk of goods from sources to manufacturers, and then to
consumers again across the open seas. All these systems are vulnerable to price
variations in fuel and ultimately to the continued pumping of crude oil from the ground.
Although estimates vary, it has been suggested that peak oil production from
conventional sources occurred in 2006, and the gas peak will soon arrive (the coal peak
is slightly later). Once we have passed a peak, production of the fuel quickly becomes
much more expensive, as the remaining resource becomes more difficult to extract.
Instead of a global dependence on oil as the preferred fuel for transportation this chapter
argues we ought to use electricity as a primary fuel; and that we should now be assuring
ourselves of adequate supplies of electricity, before we run out of both the transport and
productive capacity necessary to establish both a new and enhanced electricity supply
and its distribution infrastructure. Further, we need to invest in a future global land
transport system that does not depend on oil as its fuel.
We argue that the best options at this time are -
1) To capture as much renewable energy as possible and to transmit this power by high
voltage direct current grids to densely populated regions where there is a wide range
of production capacity, and
2) To implement a high-capacity transport system for both people and goods that relies
on electricity, rather than oil or gas as its primary fuel. The freight mode must
support the entire logistics chain from raw material supply to the delivery of finished
goods, including minerals, water and other liquids, and food stocks.
In other words, before we lose the conventional fuel supplies that now power
transportation systems for our entire life cycle, we must build resilient new
infrastructures: then science and technology can create further processes for our
Fossil fuel peaks, global solutions, HVDC electricity grids, maglev
transport systems, human survival, crisis, renewable energy, global population,
Aston Business School, Birmingham, B3 4ET, UK or to Le Bourg, 46800 Ste Croix, France.