The world energy crisis is far worse than our leaders are telling us. Many would have you believe that nothing is wrong even as utility bills grow higher and higher. Our infrastructure is failing us, our energy systems are under attack and are the cause of economic, political, and physical conflicts around the world. In this blog, we will shine a light on the world’s energy crisis now and in the future. We will break it down and show you the real threats and most importantly, what you need to do to insulate yourself from them.
Our frankness in this blog might upset many, but you must know the truth about this energy crisis. You cannot dodge it, and time is literally running out. It will affect you either in the price you pay per kilowatt and BTU or through power outages and supply interruptions.
Here’s what you need to know now…
We have done other blogs on energy in the past. We did one that details part of the looming energy crisis specific to oil. And we did one specific to attacks on our power grid. We have also done solution blogs with free downloadable resources like the Ultimate Guide to Solar Battery Systems and whole home battery options. It’s obviously a topic we cover on this channel from multiple angles. Our energy dependence is a weakness and a barrier to our self-sufficiency. We must put that in perspective and inevitably address it because a looming energy disaster that is getting closer by the day.
Let’s zoom out on this threat to understand it at a macro level. The proper functioning of our global economy requires sufficient energy of the correct type. Our consumption is at very high levels. Across the energy supply chain, there are problems. All along the way, there are high costs for extraction, transport, refinement, transport again, then an added cost of disposal and cleanup. Clean energy has similar high costs, as cobalt, nickel, lithium, and other rare earth elements are not readily available. Population demands and profits have always driven the human relation to energy sources. In the 1500s and 1600s, wood was scarce in England because it was used as a primary building source and fuel for fires. Over the same period, demand rose, as London, for instance, grew from a population in the tens of thousands to over a half-million. By the 1700s, the iron industry had transitioned from wood to coal which has greater energy density. Oil found a place in the 1800s as a replacement for whale oil, with gasoline and kerosene produced as a by-product. With the invention of the combustion engine, fossil fuels became the king of fuels and have always kept that position.
Other energies, like nuclear and renewable energies like solar, wind, and bioenergy, have all supplemented our energy supply but have never dethroned fossil fuels. There has always been a stoked division between what are called fossil fuels and what are called renewables. It’s not in the fossil fuel industry’s best interest to promote alternative energies, and part of the narrative of the renewable energy industry is to eliminate the fossil fuel industry. Most discussions on this topic stop here, as many are deeply entrenched in their belief that this war between energy sources exists and isn’t simply made up by corporate executives, lobbyists, politicians, and PR and marketing companies. Let’s take the discussion a step forward by asserting that nobody with a vested interest in this truly has a 100% complete solution. Maybe they need to work together because here is the reality that they won’t tell you:
An anthropogenic habitat refers to an environment created or modified by humans. This can include urban areas, agricultural land, and other forms of human development. These habitats can range from small scale, like a single building, to large scale, like an entire city. They often involve using technology and resources to make inhospitable areas livable, such as through air conditioning, running water, and electricity. That’s the whole definition, but the short answer here is that energy has allowed humans to explode in population and live in essentially inhospitable areas. Would Phoenix, Arizona, have its population of over 1.6 million people were it not for electricity and water flowing to the tiny microclimates created in the over 600,000 homes? Probably not, since the city also has over 100 days per year over 100 degrees.
This same idea of rapid population growth through the creation of anthropogenic habitats can be seen anywhere around the world where temperatures are too high or too low, precipitation is too significant or too low, or where food for the local population must be produced elsewhere and brought into the area. Worldwide, everyone uses energy to create an environment where they can thrive. Demand continues to skyrocket as we convert more of the world into a hospitable environment for humans to thrive.
What they aren’t telling you–those corporate executives, lobbyists, politicians, and PR and marketing companies–is that beyond just the cost of extracting, refining, and getting the energy to you, most of it is in a finite supply and dwindling. When cruising down the road with over a 1/2 tank of gas, we don’t worry about the gas tank level. We only worry about the levels when the fuel gauge light comes on to let us know we are critically low. We don’t worry about how much pollution we might leave on the road behind us, but both are hidden concerns. And we only worry about where the filling station is once that light illuminates our fuel gauge.
What if the filling station wasn’t there anymore? What if the station had no unleaded gas but only liquified natural gas or chunks of coal? You would be stuck on the side of the road. That’s where we are at today. BP, one of the largest oil companies in the world, estimates the world has an estimated 1,700 billion barrels of unextracted oil and 187 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. That’s enough to last us at the current consumption rate for around 50 years. Our best scientific minds put coal reserves at approximately 90 years with current consumption. For the sake of argument, let’s say they are all off on their calculations. The energy consulting firm Rystad Energy estimates oil for 70 years– 20 years longer than BP estimates. Even if we have a century more oil, natural gas, and coal at the current consumption rate, we still have a finite supply of under a century. A century might feel like a long time, but in the big arc of history, it’s a mere moment and woefully inadequate to swiftly transition all of the world from one energy source to another.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Part of the problem with this supply is that it isn’t all in one place. It’s all over the world in greater or lesser amounts. In geographical areas not claimed by any country, there is a competition by developed countries to claim and exploit these resources. Oil wells do eventually run dry. Oil extraction from sources like shale and oil sands is much more difficult. Converting all machinery to run overnight on natural gas or renewables isn’t possible, just as you aren’t going to transform your car between tank fills to operate on liquified natural gas or coal. At the same time, demand increases with population growth. Demand increases with extreme weather event cycles.
The location, access, extraction, and distribution are driven by profit and geopolitics. We see this play out on a grand scale in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Europeans fear freezing in the dark this winter, and the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage and embargoes significantly reduce supply. America, which sits on plenty of natural gas, is shipping more of it to Europe to fill the gaps and reap the profits. OPEC+ has always controlled the price of oil and manipulated it to reap maximum profits. Political decisions that affect the world are based on fossil fuel supplies, profits, and demand. Populations thrive or contract based on supply. Economies thrive or contract based on supply.
The most successful countries are caught up in locating greater supplies, controlling the location, and obtaining those supplies or profits from those supplies for their people. It’s quite the problem from whichever angle you examine it.
Depending upon whom you talk to, they will offer you a different absolute solution. They’re not going to tell you that wars are waging over energy. They’re not going to tell you that we have a finite supply. They’re not going to tell you that your current way of living isn’t sustainable at the current costs. They aren’t going to tell you, as we have pointed out in other blogs, that your energy supply is under daily assault. We will be honest with you and tell you that.
We don’t think there is an “absolute” solution. Any solution must combine reduced consumption, conservation, and a blend of all energy production means available: hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, and fossil fuels. Anyone solely trying to sell you just one of those probably has a vested interest in doing so. Unfortunately, so many people are so deeply entrenched in their “absolute” solution that we probably won’t easily come to any singular path forward. We definitely won’t peacefully come to a solution within the next century and before supplies run out. Any solution we collectively come to will be reactive and not proactive.
Accepting that fact, wars and economic battles will be our future. Power grid failures will occur with greater frequency. People in the most affected areas will become ecological refugees or struggling survivors as their anthropogenic habitats fail them or become too expensive to sustain. We know that’s not a great future we are painting here, but that’s what we see at the moment. Still, as with any global shift, you can prep individual changes that can see you through until things work themselves out. This isn’t an extinction event as much as it is a global shift in how we live our lives.
There are prepping solutions you can plug in today. First, move away from an “unlimited” mindset. As a prepper, when you turn on the tap, you know that the resource of water isn’t always going to flow. After a disaster, it might stop or be polluted. Knowing this, you store water and have filtration systems, methods of purifying water, and precipitation collection systems. Even more vulnerable than water in many cases is your energy supply, and this can be a deadly interruption of services if you live in an area prone to extreme climate events. An insulative R-value of between 30 and 38 isn’t going to keep you cool enough or warm enough through a week-long extreme weather event without energy. If you live in an older home, it was likely built in a time when extreme, prolonged heatwaves or polar vortexes weren’t as commonplace. Modern construction assumes a goldilocks range of temperatures and an uninterrupted energy supply to maintain a habitable living space. Your dependency on these things can also be your downfall after a disaster, a break in services, or even war thousands of miles away from you.
Your solution is really the same as that global solution. First, you need to make efforts now to understand your consumption and your basic minimum needs. Understanding how you use and need energy will help you prepare for any time when the power ceases to flow when you flick a switch. What are your basic minimum needs? Is heating or cooling an essential thing that means the difference between life and death for you? If so, you better address and prep for that. You can use City Prepping’s FREE Capacity Calculator here to understand your consumption needs.
That’s your starting point. Unless you can just switch to burning wood again and drinking from your well, you need to develop a solution from there. What are the things that absolutely must run? Are you dependent upon a refrigerator, C-Pap, or oxygen machine? Can you only pump or boil water on an electric stovetop? Does your radio only work on batteries? Work up from your bare necessities, those things you absolutely need to survive to your luxuries. Then you have two more steps. First, reduce your consumption by eliminating inefficiencies. If you have leaky windows or poor insulation, it is time to change that. You can assess your home by implementing some of the hacks we explain in our video, 9 Easy Hacks to Save Energy This Winter. Saving money now through conserving energy will also reduce your consumption needs after a disaster.
Second, you need to ensure that your minimum needs are met for the longest time possible. What will you do when your grid goes down for a week or more? Many preppers are prepared for a power outage of a few days, but most people aren’t prepared for even a few hours without power. Some combination of batteries, portable solar battery packs, portable solar arrays, wind turbines, generators, solar battery packs, or home solar panels with home batteries needs to be your solution. At first, you need to be able to function with reduced consumptive needs for that same 72 hours that FEMA says is the minimum. Then, you need to logically push that self-sufficiency timeframe to a week, 3-weeks, or indefinitely. Failing to do so leaves you a willful victim of a system that will fail one day. This isn’t a question of when. It absolutely will fail at some point, but you can be prepared for it just as you prepare for disruptions in your water or food supply.
Finally, look at the soaring costs of energy as an opportunity. If you can take advantage of government incentives to install solar on your home along with a battery backup system, you will save money as energy costs increase, and you will be able to power arbitrage consumption. You decrease your dependency on a system that will eventually fail, and you better position yourself with such a setup in any post-disaster situation. I’m not trying to sell you solar, especially since it isn’t a viable solution in all areas of the world. Your challenge is definitely finding a multimodal energy solution. What combination of various energy resources will work for you in your area? Get them leveraged as a prep for you, just like your food and water are.
They won’t tell you that we are heading toward an energy disaster. Our systems are vulnerable to multiple attacks, from physical to cyber. An ever-increasing competition for finite resources leads us to all-out economic and physical wars. We have built our buildings and lived our lives in areas of the world that cannot be sustained without energy. Extended periods of extreme weather that are out of the normal ranges we built our homes and infrastructure to sustain are becoming more frequent in occurrence. These are all weaknesses that will lead us to small and large disasters in the future. Those small disasters can become more frequent and can compound into larger disasters. We wouldn’t hope for those corporate executives, lobbyists, politicians, and PR and marketing companies to come to any overnight solution to make your life better, and I wouldn’t hope to be on the winning side of the war they are fighting amongst themselves.
Anywhere we have a dependence on systems outside our limited control, we need to prep for that potential failure. That puts energy right in line with food and water. Of course, we could live without power, but millions of people suddenly needing to switch from electricity to burning bio-mass resources like wood…well…let’s just say that many won’t survive that transition.
Don’t ignore this looming energy crisis, and don’t dig into any one side of the argument. Neither side is entirely correct with their proposed solutions, but you can find a personal solution that will carry you through.
As always, stay safe out there.