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Peak Oil and the Future of Airline Travel
I recently finished reading a book on the depletion of non-renewable resources, called "Peak Everything" by Richard Heinberg.
Then it occurred to me: what will happen to the air travel industry if we run out of oil?
Fossil fuels are peaking and experts have been warning us about the "peak oil" phenomenon. But besides and vehicles, we also have aerial vehicles using fuels derived from petrol.
What will happen to the air travel industry, if we run out of petrol and thus, kerosene?
Oil is depleting and if we consider the Hubbert Curve's bell-like shape, then we can't overlook the fact that the quantities will drop exponenitally.
While there are vast amounts of ingenious inventions for ground vehicles like solar cell-powered cars, for instance. But there aren't any alternatives that could ensure enough power to jet airliners!
We've watched the latest impressive models come out: the Airbus A380 double-decker "Super Jumbo", the Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" and the Airbus A350. But what will power our jets in a few decades time?
Sources are conflicting about when peak oil will occur or already has occurred.
Nevertheless, some regions of the World have already went through the peaking of crude oil production.
For instance: the USA has already seen peak oil production in the 1970's. The same cannot be told about Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Eventually, the global production of oil will peak. After that, less and less petrol-derived fuels will be available to power our vehicles.
Air travel is on the increase, just like the use of cars is intensifying.
Instead of using less and less, we are using up more and more of the finite amount of fuels. The consequences could be devastating.
Are We Living in a Lucky Period For Cheap Airline Travel?
Imagine... in the late 1800's if you wanted to travel from Frankfurt to Barcelona, it would have taken a week by various slow land-based vehicles (combination of train, cars). Additional costs of accommodation and food would have been added to all of that.
Imagine how expensive and how slow the process was of traveling between the UK and the USA was at the beginning of the 20th century.
We are living in a cheap era of air travel - believe it or not. Even if this sounds absurd considering you own financial possibilities.
Source: © Morguefile.com/hotblack
Since we're still relying on petrol to produce kerosene, airline travel is too oil industry-addicted.
And we all know petrol resources are limited. Endless TV shows, documentaries and newspaper articles have covered the issue.
Yet, you will rarely see anyone worry about how we'll fly when petrol starts running out. But perhaps, it's exactly air travel that's most threatened by peak oil.
While there still is petrol, we can still travel at these "normal" prices.
What will happen after petrol runs out? You don't want to imagine... We may be
Suppose a great new alternative won't be invented. Because: alternative fuels, such as ethanol are not available in sufficient amounts in order to power the entire airline industry. Nevertheless, we would have to tut down forests and give up on growing food in order to produce biologically-produced alcohol - which would be ethanol.
Perhaps we're living in an era that may never return. Today, we may not appreciate the cheapness of airline travel and the tremendous luxury of budget airline travel, but our grandchildren might never have the luxury to fly at all!
Alternatives are scarce. The way airliners function today is to burn fuel thus, producing the thrust to propel them into the air (and to keep them there!), but almost nothing even gets close to the power of the great kerosene! And, even alternative fuels like ethanol or biodiesel fuels require technical modifications to the airplanes, not to mention creating the infrastructure needed to produce the required amounts of fuel.
To me, this scenario is another motivational factor. It makes me want to fly!
My thoughts to everyone are: enjoy flying while you still can, take advantage of this opportunity while you still can!
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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