The term ďpeak oilĒ refers to the concept that
oil and natural gas are limited resources and that
we will inevitably pass the peak of oil and natural
gas production in the world. Without careful preparation,
the resulting steep price increases could be extremely
disruptive, and individuals and businesses alike
will be compelled to retool our economies and societies
around new realities.
The City of Portland was one of the first cities
to recognize the need to prepare for such a transition,
establishing a Peak Oil Task Force which presented
its report, ďDescending
the Oil Peak: Navigating the Transition from Oil
and Natural Gas,Ē to Portland City Council in
The report anticipates that, regardless of exactly
when the peak oil phenomenon occurs, there will
be dramatic consequences to our status quo:
- Transportation impacts will be large, both on
individuals and freight. Individuals will feel
economic pressure to shift to carpooling, more
energy-efficient cars, walking or biking. Freight
may shift from air and trucks to more shipping
and rail. More densely populated city and town
centers may facilitate transportation solutions.
- Higher prices for oil and natural gas will lead
to higher food prices and less diversity in affordable
- Volatility in international markets will impact
Portlandís industries that are reliant on global
capital. Some sectors, like Portlandís growing
clean energy industry, may gain demand.
- Social services in the region, already stretched
thin, will likely be in higher demand, as people
find it harder to make ends meet while paying
more for transportation, health care, food, housing,
heating and other basic needs.
As peak oil gains prominence and begins to intersect
with other trends facing our region, many of the
choices that the community expressed to visionPDX
to be preferable will also support addressing and
preparing for this transition.
Click here to read Portland's
Peak Oil Task Force report (off site).
Here to view a graph of gasoline sales
and expenditures for Multnomah County from 1990