Saturday, April 14, 2007

Peak Oil Can Oil My Peak.

My opinion is that although the concept of Peak Oil rings true in the most literally way (the cost of extracting petroleum will increase over time as the cheapest and easiest to extract reserves are depleted), the often touted economic and social repercussions are fear mongering and a result of very shallow analysis.

There are massive reserves trapped in harder to extract contexts, such as oil sands, and there are massive unexplored areas where there are thought to be large amounts of oil. Add to this the fact that there are hundreds of years worth of coal and nuclear energy. If oil gets too expensive, we use more coal and nuclear in the mid term while alternative energies catch up.

Keep in mind that the Earth is exposed to enough radiant energy from the sun provides energy to 75 billion tons of biomass, and only about 1/3rd of 1% is humans. Living organisms are very good at turning energy from the sun into oils. There are plants that are more than 20% oil by weight. From a physics point of view there is no energy problem.

If oil was going to run out suddenly in 5 years and there were no such thing as coal, natural gas, or nuclear power then yes, there might be a pretty big social disaster. But there is coal, natural gas, and nuclear, and there is at least 50 years of oil too. As is almosts always the case, the alarmists are either idiots or opportunists.

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