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The End isn’t Nigh

October 7, 2011

It’s fascinating to see how frequently people have said we were running out of oil.

It even happened before the first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania.

At the time, oil oozed out of the ground and people scooped it up to use it for lighting.

In 1855, Kier’s Rock Oil advised consumers to “hurry, before this wonderful product is depleted from Nature’s laboratory.”

Then in 1874, after the first well was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania state geologist warned that there was only enough oil left in the U.S. to last for four years.

Then in 1914, the U.S. Bureau of Mines declared that the United States would run out of oil in 10 years.

In 1919, the automobile industry warned that it could not ignore the “fact” that oil would run out in twenty years.

In 1926, the Federal Oil Conservation Board estimated that only 4.5 billion barrels remained.

In 1932, the Federal Oil Conservation Board estimated that only 10 billion barrels of oil remained.

In 1939, the Department of the Interior predicted that oil reserves would last only 13 more years.

In 1950, the Department of the Interior said the oil age would end by 1963.

Then in 1956, Hubbert predicted that the peak in US oil production would be by 1970.

Thus was born Hubbert’s curve, which used the history of Texas’ oil production as the basis for predicting when the peak in world oil production would occur.

Hubbert’s curve provided a quasi scientific rationale for predicting the end of the oil age. (See earlier article, Peak Oil Discredited.)

Hubbert’s curve allowed the magazine Scientific American in 1998 to publish an article “End of the Age of Oil” predicting that oil production would peak in 2002 and that we would soon face the “end of the abundant and cheap oil on which all nations depend.”

Why people accept Malthusian type predictions when they have always proved false, is a testament to human gullibility.

Fortunately, once again an expert has stepped forward to show that the end of oil is not nigh.

Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, in his latest book, The Quest, skewers Hubbard, as rightly he should.

Rather than running out of oil, the United States is locking it away so it can’t be used. Our policies prevent the development of our oil supplies, causing the U.S. to import oil and pay dearly for it.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2011 1:35 pm

    I have been mystified for years why our government has stifled the development of domestic oil. If Alaskan oil had been flowing in 1973, the Arab oil embargo the fall of 1973 would have been inconsequential. Environmentalists delayed flow of Alaskan oil until about 1979; after it was discovered, I believe, in 1948.

    Our policy of stalling development of domestic oil has led to our country’s attention to the Middle East. Otherwise, why would we care what these people do

    James Rust.

  2. November 24, 2011 5:09 pm

    We are not running out of oil. There are over a trillion barrels left in the world. But we are reaching a production peak in which after that peak, no economic growth will occur. Why? Because all of the cheap oil will be gone and because oil permeates our whole existence. Oil is in everything. Once we understand that we will realize that our stock market(a market that depends on 20 billion barrels a day in America) will seize to exists. Basically, which is more real, these paper stocks with assumed values or the oil in the ground which is diminishing every single day.

    When we think of oil, we picture the gas tank analogy. When the needle reaches E for empty is when we are in trouble. The world does in fact have a trillion barrels of oil left to produce. The real analogy is like a Pearl Harbor reconnaissance plane flying its mission over the ocean. The plane flies as far as it can for as high as it can. The pilot fulfils the mission of aerial photography of enemy positions. At a certain point though the pilot knows he must turn around at the HALF WAY point of the gas gauge to make it back home. When the needle reaches at half the tank the pilot MUST RETREAT and DESCEND to make it back to base. When the world has produced as much oil as it ever can in one day (peaked), when it has flown as far as it can for as high as it can the world economy MUST RETREAT and DESCEND.
    Thanks.

  3. November 25, 2011 9:52 am

    Thanks’ Forager for your comments. Unfortunately they typify the Malthusian idea that we can’t find and use new resources or new technologies.
    There are large amounts of oil that can be reached, and used.
    They may be called unconventional, but we don’t need to retreat and turn around, as you say, to descend – descend into poverty. We can keep moving ahead, with society improving so that all of us benefit from higher standards of living. This is very important for the millions who live in poverty, using dung and wood to heat their homes.
    We have oil, and we can find it and use it.

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