I’ll start the series with answering general questions friends and readers have already asked me and imaginary questions that other people might ask in the future.
Do you believe that oil is coming to an end?
Without a doubt.
It’s a finite resource. The world population increases daily by almost a quarter of a million people, India and China, the most populous nations, become bigger users of fossil fuels every day, and it takes tens of millions of years for new oil to be made via geological processes. So yes, absolutely, it’s coming to an end. I don’t need to “believe” it, no more than I need to “believe” in gravity or molybdenum or the planet Mercury. Oil will run out.
But I’ve read in the newspaper there is plenty. Don’t you believe the official measures of available oil and predictions of how long it will last?
Not for a second. These figures come from the oil industry itself (remember, the folks you brought you Deep Horizon and the Exxon Valdez?), which is fixated on short-term profit, not the long-term health of civilization, and from the same governments who have lied about far too much for my entire life. Obviously none is to be trusted and all have their own vested economic interests that make lying advantageous to them. They aren’t wholly on my side and have plenty of incentive to lie, so I don’t believe them.
So who do you believe?
Sorry, but I have no one reliable to offer you in exchange for those unreliable sources. I’ve read every peak oil/post oil book there is out there, watched all the documentaries, read hundreds of blog posts by everyone from social scientists to actuaries to economists to “recovering oil executives,” to the Grand Archdruid, to back-to-the-earth small organic farmers who use horses and hoes instead of tractors, and there is so much panic-mongering and so many unlikely claims, so many crazy cults that don’t allow dissent or questions if you wish to clarify the source of their claims, it’s hard to know whom to believe. So I don’t believe any of them either. (lol.)
Sure, that’s because some are clearly nutty, but also because the most rational and well-read of them are predicting details about a future that is unpredictable. I don’t know the future, and they don’t know. Some (not much) new oil could be discovered. New technologies might emerge to get oil out of tar sands more efficiently, though for now it takes more energy to extract it than it gives in return. (same is true of corn-based ethanol.) Nobody knows the shape of the future, and while someone out there (probably a few gas executives and intelligence agencies) is certain how much gasoline is truly left to be pumped up, they aren’t sharing that info.
We do all know this: oil is a finite resource and more than half that ever was has already been burned.
|Wikimedia. Oil production and use. Hubbert's Peak in action to 2003|
When will oil entirely run out?
Not a clue. After I’m dead and gone, no doubt, and probably before 100 years beyond that has passed, but other than that, without someone first telling us the truth about how much there is, I would not hazard a guess. (Okay, I did hazard a guess in writing this novel series, but Slashed is set about a generation from now, and that seems far too soon for us living in the real, non-fictional world. I didn’t want the world unrecognizable, so I chose that time frame and a world political arrangement that had the US dependent on one foreign source that gets shut off in an instant. Artistic license.)
more to come next week