A Cubic Mile of Oil: Realities and Options for Averting the Looming Global Energy Crisis
One cubic mile of oil (CMO) corresponds very closely to the world's current total annual consumption of crude oil. The world's total annual energy consumption - from all energy sources- is currently 3.0 CMO. By the middle of this century the world will need between 6 and 9 CMO of energy per year to provide for its citizens. Adequate energy is needed remove the scourge of poverty and provide food, clothing, and shelter for the people around the world, and more will be needed for measures to mitigate the potential effects of climate change such as building dikes and desalinating water.
A Cubic Mile of Oil describes the various energy sources and how we use them, projects their future contributions, and delineates what it would take to develop them to annually produce a CMO from each of them. The requirement for additional energy in the future is so daunting that we will need to use all resources. We also examine how improved efficiency and conservation measures can reduce future demand substantially, and help distinguish approaches that make a significant impact as opposed to merely making us feel good.
Use of CMO eliminates a multitude of units like tons of coal, gallons of oil, and cubic feet of gas; obviates the need for mind-numbing multipliers such as billions, trillions, and quadrillions; and replaces them with an easy-to-understand volumetric unit. It evokes a visceral response and allows experts, policy makers and the general public alike to form a mental picture of the magnitude of the challenge we face. In the absence of an appreciation of the scale of the problem, we risk squandering efforts and resources in pursuing options that will not meet tomorrow's global energy needs. We must make critical choices, and a common understandable language is essential for a sustained meaningful dialog.
New approach to energy policy
By Nell Levy - September 12, 2010
A Cubic Mile of Oil provides an interesting way to conceptualize our energy use and our needs in the near future. While we hear a lot about green energy, little is stated about what it would take to make a dent in our carbon/fossil fuel use. This book gives an overview of each energy source (coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, sun,etc.) with the pros and cons of each. The goal is educating the average person so that a more thoughtful energy policy can be advocated for the future.
Should be read by everyone interested in the future
By G. M. Poteat "Gnostic" - April 18, 2011
I have been aware of the issue of "peak oil" for at least 5 years. Several years ago, I was a member of a group of faculty (as part of a program for incoming doctoral students in a resource management program) that read the "End of Oil". Oil is a limited resource and will increase in price as production (especially cheap production) declines and demand continues to increase. So I have been looking for a good, non-ideological guide to what alternatives exist for both conservation and the development of other energy resources. A Cubic Mile of Oil is in my opinion a balanced and accurate approach to facing the reality of the future energy shortage.
Some questions that we in the U.S. must face include what will happen when (maybe if) gasoline costs $10 or $12 dollars a gallon (my prediction not the authors) or when the production of electricity does not equal the demand? I think that the bump in petrol prices in 2008 impacted the U.S. economy. My opinion is that gasoline... read more
By Reviewer - June 7, 2011
I met Ripudaman Malhotra at a conference when he gave an overview of this book and the concepts within it. His explanation and presentation style is much like the writing within the book: engaging and easily absorbed. The cubic mile concept is extended to all of the grand energy problems we face, and makes it much easier to understand the scale. The EIA presently lists oil consumption in the US with Quadrillion BTU or million barrels of oil, which are numbers which likely have little relevance to the daily life of most humans. When all units are converted to the Cubic Mile of Oil (CMO), suddenly the scale becomes apparent. The comparisons enabled by this simple metric are new and creative because finally these energy ideas are knitted together in a common context. People can picture a cubic mile of oil, as if it were a folded black bubbly and pungent box with the footprint of a neighborhood extending one mile skyward, threatening to disgorge its volume and flood the world like an... read more