Many experts believe we have discovered, and quantified, pretty much all the oil available on Earth. If that is true, and there is good reason to believe it is, at our current rate of consumption, it is unlikely we will make it half way through the century with affordable fossil fuel. Think of it this way, in the past 20 years we have used as much oil as we did in the 80 years prior to that.
I filled up my tank today. It cost me about $35. It occurred to me as I finished pumping that the money I had just spent on gasoline is equal to half a day’s pay for a lot of people. And with the price going up as it is, it will not be long before a tank of gas will be equivalent to a lot people’s pay for a full day of work. That means a 20% outlay of gross income for gas? That is a problem.
Now consider that aircraft use a petroleum derivative that has historically cost 25% more per gallon than what you put in your car. True, it is aviation grade fuel, kerosene actually, but the point is, the consumer pays for that fuel in the price of the ticket of course. Now think down the road to 2050. By that time oil has become a lot more scarce than it is now and the price of fuel has taken many people out of the car ownership market. Those people are not going to be opting for a high-priced airline ticket either. The thing is, until someone comes up with something revolutionary as a fuel for aircraft, they are stuck with petroleum. While automobiles will be switching to batteries, ships to nuclear power, aircraft do not have any alternative on the horizon.
I think as soon as 10 years from now you will be seeing the effects of skyrocketing aviation fuel causing a steady decline in passengers as tickets become too expensive. Many airlines will go under, small cities will lose air service all together, and you may well see the re-introduction of trans-oceanic passenger travel as an affordable, though slow, method of overseas travel.
How many of you heat your houses with oil? That is going to be a problem. And even natural gas, though far more plentiful now, is not renewable. Do we switch back to coal-fired furnaces or will industry give us affordable solar alternatives? Will the nuclear power plant suddenly become popular?