The world’s supply of oil is running out very quickly, warned a recent report issued by HSBC Bank.
“We’re confident that there are around 50 years of oil left,” HSBC’s Senior Global Economist Karen Ward explained in a CNBC interview. “There’s possibly more out there,” she continued, but she noted that with ever-increasing demand worldwide, supplies could run out even sooner.
Energy resources are scarce in general, Ward said, and are to blame for rising prices. Violence and political unrest in the Middle East are commonly cited as reasons for high oil and gasoline prices, but a key underlying factor to the recent price hike is oil’s growing scarcity. Sharp increases in energy demand from developing countries are only increasing the pressures on existing supplies of fossil fuels, and are ‘likely to cause “persistent and painful” price shocks,’ said the report, as described in the New York Times Environment Blog.
Natural gas and coal are still plentiful, Ward said, but difficulties in transporting natural gas and the incredible levels of pollution from coal power are significant disincentives for their use. Moreover, just like oil, natural gas and coal have finite supplies that take millions of years to replenish. Nuclear power, another alternative to fossil fuels, was once seen as the cure-all to the energy crisis but support plummeted following the disastrous nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukashima nuclear reactor.
There are, however, possible solutions to the crisis, Ward said. She hailed energy efficiency improvements as low-cost and very effective, but noted that other energy sources will be needed to meet future energy demands.
Only by aggressively utilizing energy efficiency programs and gradually shirting to renewable energies (like wind, solar, tidal and geothermal technologies) can the crisis be reversed, Ward advised. Most importantly, “government foresight” and strategic planning are needed now more than ever, she said.
Click HERE to watch the full interview.