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What’s Being Taught on Campus

April 29, 2016

What’s being taught in colleges and universities about energy and energy issues?

When a student asked me a pointed question about an energy issue I asked where he had obtained such slanted information, and he referred me to his university professor.

That got me looking at videos and courses produced by college professors, and, not surprisingly, they were interesting. While much of the information was factually correct, the courses were slanted.

And this series of occasional articles will address how college and university professors are misleading their students.

In nearly every instance so far, the professor begins by saying he will only examine the facts, and if he has an opinion he will tell you before hand.

While this disarms the student, or viewer, opinions are inserted obliquely or casually … without forewarning.

For example:

In one course, discussing subsidies, the professor inserts that Fracking was excluded from the clean water act, inferring the exclusion was a subsidy.

While the exclusion might be onerous to some people, it is certainly not a subsidy. But the professor has established the idea that Fracking is subsidized.

This is the first of my articles about how students are being indoctrinated by college professors. From time to time, in this series, I’ll discuss other misleading information being fed college students.

For Campus Series

Fossil fuels have been made out to be pariahs, and one of the tactics that sucks the student into conforming with that view is the assertion that:

“Fossil fuels are finite. Mankind will run out of them soon, so we might just as well begin the switch to clean energy now.”

This is an appealing concept for young students. Why not develop clean energy now, since we’ll have to do it soon anyway? Besides it might help save the planet.

In this context, one professor said that fossil fuels will only last for a period no longer than the United States has been a country, inferring fossil fuels will be consumed within two hundred years.

If fossil fuels were to be gone in only a few years it would make sense to begin developing alternatives sooner rather than later, and students readily accept this view.

Of course, this conforms with the notion that fossil fuels are bad, so why not start now?

But the professor is deceiving the student, who lacks knowledge about how long fossil fuels can last, and really serve mankind.

Most students won’t look into the question of fossil fuel availability, and if they do, they will find some superficial information such as the concept of proven reserves.

Unfortunately “proven reserves” is a legal definition that history has shown to be false, if the real question is how long can fossil fuels last.

Proven reserves are:

Known reserves that can be recovered economically using established engineering or operating principles.”

Companies must legally identify proven reserves so that investors can evaluate the value of an investment.

The EIA, or some equivalent group, recites published known reserves ad nauseam, so once again, even if the student wanted to confront the professor with contradictory information it would be hard to find information that the professor couldn’t easily rebut.

But the fact is

“Actual reserves are many times greater than published proven reserves.”

This has been demonstrated time again over the past hundred years.

The following examples are from an article by Anthony Watts:

  • In 1865, Stanley Jevons (one of the most recognized 19th century economists) predicted that England would run out of coal by 1900, and that England’s factories would grind to a standstill.
  • In 1885, the US Geological Survey announced that there was “little or no chance” of oil being discovered in California.
  • In 1891, it said the same thing about Kansas and Texas.
  • In 1939, the US Department of the Interior said that American oil supplies would last only another 13 years.
  • In 1949 the Secretary of the Interior announced that the end of US oil was in sight.

Then, there was the Club of Rome with its 1972 report, the Limits to Growth, which said that growth couldn’t continue because the world was running out of natural resources, especially oil.

All of this culminated with the concept of Peak Oil, which said, wrongly, that the world was running out of oil. Hubbert’s curve, based on experience from reservoirs in Texas, predicted that the world would have consumed half of all the oil on Earth by the first or second decade of the 21st century.

And, this too has been proven wrong.

The reason for all the wrong forecasts is that the definition of known reserves is self limiting.

  • First, new reserves are constantly being found.
  • Second, new techniques are developed for extracting reserves that increases the amount of oil, natural gas, etc., that can be economically extracted from known reserves.

Truthfully, no one knows how long fossil fuels will last.

Experience has shown that oil and natural gas can probably last for a thousand years. With Methane Hydrates, natural gas can probably last 2,000 years. Coal, of all types, can also probably last a thousand years.

So, college students are being misled into believing that it’s important to find substitutes now, for fossil fuels, because fossil fuels are finite and running out.

In fact, there is no rush to find substitutes. Mankind has ample time to develop genuine, cost effective alternatives for fossil fuels.

There is no need to distort the economy, use expensive and unreliable alternatives or go further into debt to develop alternatives.

This is one of the ways in which university and college professors are deceiving their students.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 18, Remarkable Availability of Life Saving Fossil Fuels, establishes why fossil fuels can be available for a thousand years.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

* * * * * *



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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2016 9:51 am

    New reserves are being constantly being found? Where? At what cost? At what size? What ROI calc are you hoping for?

    And mostly, to whose benefit?



    • April 29, 2016 10:00 am

      For everyone’s benefit.
      They are found all over the world. Shale for example covers every continent, except possibly Antarctica.
      Costs vary, but the costs are reasonable with the products used from oil and natural gas benefitting mankind at prices everyone can afford. The environment benefits when countries become wealthy as the result of using inexpensive energy from fossil fuels and turn from burning dung to heat their homes etc.
      Investors look for reasonable ROIs usually less than three years for any good investment, or longer if dividends are part of the return.
      Hope that helps to answer your questions.

  2. April 29, 2016 3:40 pm

    Thanks for your comments. They are greatly appreciated.
    I will be happy to review the resources chapter.

  3. April 30, 2016 6:11 pm

    it all depends on the rate of growth , for example today consumption of oil is 5 cubic km / year and if the consumption of oil increases 5% / year in 200 years we would consume 5×1.05^200=86500 cubic km/year so there will be a point where there is literally no more oil to recover.

    • April 30, 2016 8:58 pm

      Oil isn’t usually measured in cubic km /year but in barrels.
      Even so, the volume of oil produced, whether in barrels or some other volume measure, will eventually run out. But from past experience it won’t be within 200 years, and that’s the point. We keep finding new oil deposits and we keep improving on how we extract oil so we get more and more oil from existing deposits.
      And, it should be noted we can make oil from coal.
      We have enough fossil fuels to last for 2,000 years or more so there is no reason to adopt wind and solar in its current form which is expensive and unreliable. We can take our time and develop renewables that are economic and reliable.
      Remember, oil resides inside some porous structure, whether it be sand stone or shale, so removing the oil doesn’t displace the earth’s volume, if that is what you are trying to infer by using cubic km.

      • May 13, 2016 4:37 pm

        Indeed oil is measured in barrels but using the cubic km makes handling the number easier. I am not inferring that extracting oil is displacing earth’s volume I am saying that because the amount of fossil fuels in the ground is necessarily limited peak oil is inevitable , when we reach it depends on the yearly increase rate of global consumption and it is a wild guess. As you rightly pointed out not an immediate problem.

        By the way, considering the amount of solar radiation fallen on earth when this could be stored as biomass deep into the ground (500 million years?), is it possible to give an estimate of the total amount of fossil fuel theoretically available?

  4. May 1, 2016 12:10 pm

    Glad to hear you are doing this timely series. New courses are being added that have names like “Energy and the Environment” that are part of Environmental Studies programs. This is in contrast to Environmental Science programs. Environmental Studies focuses on policy and you get a B.A. while you can get a B.S. from an Environmental Science program. Another new course that has been added is “Introduction to Sustainability” In which you learn how to calculate a “carbon footprint.” I have heard from students that you can get science credit for this course. All of this is happening rapidly. Colleges now compete for Green Awards which include funding from the Federal Government.

    • May 1, 2016 5:12 pm

      Thanks for the information. The schools are brainwashing the children they are supposed to be teaching.

  5. May 13, 2016 4:58 pm

    Thanks for your comment.
    I don’t have any idea as to whether it is possible to calculate the amount of the sun’s energy that has reached the Earth or the past millions of years, and then use that as the basis for determining the amount of fossil fuels available on the Earth.


  1. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #224 | Watts Up With That?

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