A World without Oil

Have you ever wondered what would be the aftermath if the world’s oil reserves dry out? What will happen to our cities, our food, and our very way of life?  It will be the worst nightmare for the whole wide world creating chaos and panic through every nation. Oil has been used as a modern economic fuel for more than a century. Imagine if all of this disappears. All the oil from the world dries out suddenly from Florida oil rigs to Saudi oil fields to North Pacific off-shore rigs to Tar sands in Alberta, Canada. The world will experience a major economic setback as all the oil that drives our cars, flies our planes, powers our factories and even the oil below the ground vanishes.

We have already explored and taken more than a trillion barrels of oil from the subsurface but what if it suddenly dries out? The drying up of oil reserves is a crisis that many scientists have predicted over the years and when this will turn to reality, the world will surely react.

Oil well and storage tanks

One Day without Oil:

Once the news of the depletion of oil reaches the people, everyone will rush to get their tanks filled, even if it may be for the last time. There will be huge lines at gas stations all over the world and the shortage of oil will lead to the hike in the price of oil per barrel as well. It will be like an economic crisis like that of 9/11 after which stock trading was shutdown in US. 2 trillion dollars of oil stocks will become worthless. Thousands of boats carrying billions of oil will be travelling throughout the world whereas the major exporters of oil such as Saudi Arabia and Russia will call back their boats certainly to conserve their own oil reserves. The US will be most heavily affected nation since it imports more oil than any other country in the world. US produces around 8 million barrels of oil daily but the usage is double the amount produced. The 1973 oil embargo caused many stations to run out of gas but a situation of such nature will be far worse causing thousands of stations to run dry. Every country has oil in reserve that is hidden away for strategic purposes. To save oil, the governments around the world will take drastic measures to conserve their reserves. Airplanes, boats, trains, all but the most vital transportations of the world will remain functional. The 4 million people who use air transport will be stranded throughout the world. More than half of the people working in the oil industry will be jobless within the day. Furthermore as the future of major industrial plants is dependent on the provision of oil and without any oil, production would be halted rendering more people jobless. The oil crisis will ignite a chain reaction that will cripple every part of our life, our hospitals, our food and our power. But after one day without oil, it will be just the beginning of a global crisis.

Joblessness And Unemployment

Five Days without Oil:

Within five days of oil depletion, the basic human needs will become out of reach. Food terminals across the world will be closed. Terminals from which several hundred trucks used to leave with groceries and fruits will be sitting idle without the oil. The groceries will become scarce and costly. Around 30% of fresh fruits and vegetables don’t make it to shelves due to small imperfections but during a crisis everything will be up for grabs. It takes on an average about one football field farmland to raise food for just one person for a year. Many countries import such commodities but without any oil to transport them, food shortage after a certain time period will be inevitable. In an ironic twist of events, animals raised for food will face starvation as an adult cow eats around 100 pounds of feed per day. Food will not be the only concern since the fragile power system will also collapse. Around 40% of the world’s electricity comes from coal burning power plants. All the coal is usually transported through trains but without oil train will no longer be running. Blackouts will start spreading across the globe as the cities that are dependent on oil for electricity generation will be affected the worst. Law and order situation will start deteriorating as well as looters will start foraging for food and cooking oil. Cooking oil can be used as an alternate for diesel fuel and since a diesel engine is more efficient, it gives much better mileage as well.


Thirty Days without Oil:

After 30 days of oil shortage, Governments will take drastic actions by only keeping the most necessary of the services running. Emergency oil reserves will be converted to diesel fuel for cargo trains so that these trains can provide coal to the power plants to keep the electricity running. This process will result in the return of electricity in some parts of the world but the cities which got there electricity directly through oil powered plants will still face some trouble. The reserve oil will keep the passenger trains running but instead of carrying passengers, they will transport food and other necessary items to people in various cities. The food transport will deplete the emergency reserve oil quite quickly. Before the oil crisis what we consumed was delivered to us but with the depletion of oil, we will have to strive to get even the basic necessities of life. Most of the countries will be desperate for an alternative. Governments will instruct the farmers to start planting only soybeans since oil could be extracted from them and then it can be turned into diesel fuel. Other options include the growing of corn for the generation of ethanol- a fuel alternative for gas powered cars. Brazil’s transportation will be much less affected as compared to the rest of the globe since most of the cars use ethanol extracted from sugarcane as car fuel. This provides the hope that the end of oil will not be the end of the line. There are thousands of electric cars these days and on a planet without oil, they would point towards a new future.


Five Months without Oil:

The most ominous and looming danger will be from the winters. Governments will press the auto industry for the production of electric trucks to supplement the food delivery and diesel fuel as well. Sugarcane plantation will start to increase so that ethanol production could be raised. Food will still be a scarce commodity and there will be long lines at train station, waiting for the food shipments. Everything will be at a standstill except coal trains, food delivery trucks and emergency services and they will receive fuel from the emergency oil reserves. But with 5 months without oil, emergency oil reserves also near an end and the governments start conserving oil as much as they can. People will start creating their own biofuel in their basement laboratories and if it pays off, they will surely be able to get out of city. Institutions will also be working in this direction but they will face serious hurdles since the emergency soybean plantation will only result in that much biodiesel that it will accommodate only 1% of a country’s population. More and more corn will be planted for ethanol production but the authorities will surely be faced with the dilemma of whether to make more ethanol from the next harvest or use it for food to feed the masses.


10 Years without Oil:

The world will survive for 10 years without oil but at the cost of many things. The space satellites that provide the communication to the whole world will become space junk without the fuel to propel rockets into the air. Governments will start recycling plants to keep using the discarded things and keep people facilitated. Lithium comes from Bolivia and it is mined from the salt flats by the tons. Lithium is the most important ingredient in the most efficient electric batteries. A world without oil will be hungry for electric alternatives and Bolivia being the largest suppliers of Lithium will be like Saudi Arabia of the modern world. Bolivia’s industry will boom and while every other country will face economic regression, Bolivia will prosper in this economic crisis.   There is hope in Algae as well since processing algae can result in more energy per acre than most biofuels. It will be completely renewable and requires very little fertilizer. This will result in the use of trucks again for the transportation of food and medicine.

Algae fuel

The global crisis can take a heavy toll on everyone whether be on economic or on people lives. People and governments will struggle to survive. It may take decades to overcome the problems that we may face due to the depletion of oil but one can remain assured that the depletion of oil will not mean the end of the world. Governments should already start looking and exploring other venues of energy generation so that they will be prepared when such a crisis confronts them.

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