Sunday, November 07, 2010

Surprising Look at Oil Resources from an Environmentalist

Stanford professor Steven Gorelick is an environmental professor of Earth science, whose predictions are markedly different -- and far more reality-based -- than those of fellow Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich.

Here is a sampling of Gorelick's ideas:
With all the advances in renewable energy, why should we even care if the planet is about to run out of oil? It seems like we would be better off without it.

In my view, like it or not, we will be using oil for a long time. Oil makes possible the transportation of people and products. Currently, most vehicles run on liquid fuel derived from oil and cannot take advantage of energy alternatives, although this is changing. In the meantime, there is no doubt that oil presents challenges related to our environment, economy and security.

Regarding whether or not we are running out of oil, estimates of the world's oil reserves have continually increased over the past 50 years, and global reserves are at an all-time high. From that perspective alone, the world is not running out of oil. Therefore, I don't believe it makes sense to assume that running out of oil will somehow solve the environmental problems associated with oil use.

Even if we won't run out of oil, isn't it possible that production will peak at some point and then drop off as oil becomes more difficult to extract?

The world may very well go through a peak in oil use, but a peak and decline is far more likely to reflect a decrease in oil demand rather than production choked by perilously low global availability of oil. The line between conventional liquid oil and unconventional oil, such as that derived from Canadian oil sands, will blur. Beyond that, major consuming nations will likely shift away from using conventional oil for transportation as concerns grow over security, stability and the environment. Based on the history of other nonrenewable Earth resources, it is likely that the world will move away from oil long before our global oil resources are exhausted. _PO

There is more at the link above.

While Al Fin energy specialists think that microbial fuels will eventually fill in for petroleum most admirably, Mr. Gorelick's optimism concerning electricity-powered transportation will also be important for specific transport niches, in time.



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