So, I haven’t commented on one of my favorite examples of pseudo-scientific nonsense in a while. That would be “Peak Oil” or the concept that the world is approaching a crisis because we are running out of oil.
The concept goes back to the early 80s (or at least that’s when I first encountered it) during the OPEC oil embargo when people first started really looking hard at fossil fuel reserves. At that time it was frequently stated that “Peak Oil” would hit hard before the turn of the century. The theory seems to make sense. As we use more and more fossil fuels and become more and more dependent on them, we MUST be using them up because there is only a finite amount of oil we can drill for. The “Peak” in “Peak Oil” describes the point where world oil production reaches the point of maximum production and from then on can only decline more and more rapidly as we use up dwindling supplies.
Even way back then I didn’t buy the notion. At that time I used to explain to people that technologies we had in place to explore for and discover oil was pretty limited. Besides that, it had mostly only been used in the USA and the Middle East. Virtually all of Africa, much of Asia and both the north and south poles had been virtually untouched, not to mention the 75% of earth covered in water.
Since then huge reservoirs of oil have been discovered in South America, the North Sea, Alaska, Asia and (ironically perhaps) Israel. And exploration of those areas has really only just begun. But even those massive discoveries pale into near insignificance when compared to the reserves of oil present in oil shale and oil sands, where trillions and trillions of barrels of oil can be economically extracted using today’s technology, and that technology is only getting better.
This is actually the real reason behind the focus on “anthropomorphic global warming” in the past two decades. Once it was clear that Mother Nature wasn’t going to stop the industrial juggernaut of development, for those who oppose progress (who ironically call themselves “progressives”) it became critical to convince the world that burning fossil fuels ALONE was destroying the world.
In the past few years two major events have happened which have the potential to dramatically restructure the world economy. Those two things are the discovery of vast reservoirs of natural gas and the development of exploitation techniques for oil shale and oil sands. Putting both of these together, according to our current knowledge about fossil fuel reserves, North America has suddenly become the world’s largest source of fossil fuel energy reserves. Recoverable oil and natural gas in the USA and Canada dwarfs the reserves in the Middle East.
Right now the Left is doing all they can to stop development of these resources. But in this case I can’t help but think the sheer momentum of the world’s industrial infrastructure is going to eventually steamroll over Obama’s objections and the next 100 years could well see the USA and Canada benefiting from a renaissance of energy development.
The big loser here would be the Middle East. Which makes me wonder, if the Arab countries lose the leverage they have with oil today, does that make the Middle East more or less volatile?