The EIA just released its monthly estimate of US oil consumption for August and the number is encouraging.
Our peak monthly demand was hit in August 2005 at almost 21.7 million barrels per day (Mbd). By this past August, demand had slid 11% to ~19.3 Mbd. The last time demand was this low was 1997, and it is only 3.3% above our oil demand 30 years ago (in August 1978).
To be fair, August 1978 saw a peak in oil consumption before the second major oil shock knocked demand down to a trough four years later that was 20% lower. But the fact that our national oil demand is close to the level 30 years ago: even though our population has grown more than a third and our economy has doubled is phenomenal. It’s an encouraging sign that the necessary transition from oil to efficient renewables is possible over the next few decades. The fact that such low consumption totals are in before the financial collapse may mean 2009 consumption could fall below 1978 levels. It will depend on people’s response to the oil price relief occurring and whether economic contraction accelerates from the .3% drop reported for the 3rd quarter.
If we in the US keep lowering our demand for oil, we can 1)probably keep the price below $3.50 in 2009, 2)save enough money to help get our economy back on track, and 3)get on our way to a climate responsible emissions future.
Let’s do it!