Life Without Petroleum

With a nod to Tim Murray, if you want to imagine life without petroleum products, here are just a few of the 70,000 products, common to our lives, which involve petroleum inputs:

Printing inks    Dishwashing liquids    Paint brushes    Telephones
Toys    Unbreakable dishes    Insecticides    Antiseptics
Dolls    Car sound insulation    Fishing lures    Deodorant
Tires    Motorcycle helmets    Linoleum    Sweaters
Tents    Refrigerator linings    Paint rollers    Floor wax
Shoes    Electrical tape    Plastic wood    Model cars
Glue    Roller-skate wheels    Rubbish bags    Soap dishes
Skis    Permanent-press clothes    Hand lotion    Clothes line
Dyes    Soft contact lenses    Shampoo    Nylon stockings
Cameras    Food preservatives    Fishing rods    Oil filters
Combs    Transparent tape    Anaesthetics    Upholstery
Dice    Disposable nappies    TV cabinets    Cassettes
Mops    Sports car bodies    Salad bowls    House paint
Purses    Electric blankets    Awnings    Ammonia
Dresses    Car battery cases    Safety glass    Hair curlers
Pyjamas    Synthetic rubber    DVDs    Spectacles
Pillows    Vitamin capsules    Movie film    Refrigerators
Candles    Rubbing alcohol    Loudspeakers    Buckets
Boats    Ice cube trays    Credit cards    Fertilizers
Crayons    Insect repellent    Water pipes    Toilet seats
Caulking    Roofing shingles    Fishing boots    Life jackets
Balloons    Shower curtains    Garden hose    Golf balls
Curtains    Plywood adhesive    Umbrellas    Detergents
Milk jugs    Beach umbrellas    Glue    Sunglasses
Putty    Tap washers    Cold cream    Bandages
Tool racks    Antihistamines    Hair colouring    Nail varnish
Waterproofs    Drinking cups    Guitar strings    False teeth
Yarn    Petroleum jelly    Toothpaste    Golf bags
Roofing    Tennis rackets    Toothbrushes    Perfume
Luggage    Wire insulation    Folding doors    Shoe polish
Fan belts    Ballpoint pens    Shower doors    Cortisone
Carpeting    Artificial turf    Heart valves    MP3 players
Lipstick    Artificial limbs    Hearing aids    Deodorant
Aspirin    Shaving cream    Paddling pools    Parachutes

So, how will we get by in the post-carbon world ahead? Assuming we’ll make it there.
Oh, I know you will say that in 1800 humanity survived without the above, or found other raw materials to make them from. And good riddance to some of them.
But in 1800 there were only a billion of us. Now we are 6.8 billion and the Chinese and Indians will demand more oil than can be supplied. Notice the inconspicuous item in the fourth column, 17th on the list. “Fertilizers”. That is a little bit more important than “Hair curlers” and “Nail varnish”, I would think. Come to think of it, using the oil we extract to make any item on the list is a better use than we make of most of it.
Currently we just burn it.

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One Response to Life Without Petroleum

  1. finnjackson says:

    Good list. I’ve added a link to it on the Peak Oil page here:

    Of course, peak oil won’t remove all these products immediately, but it will make them more expensive. And then we’ll start to find alternatives, sustainable alternatives, so that is a good thing also.

    I read once that we burn over 90%-95% of the oil that we extract — as you say, a huge waste when we could be using it to make all these useful things.

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