NEW! Members Only Forums!

Access more articles, news & discussion by becoming a PeakOil.com Member.
Register Today...
It's FREE!


QUOTE O’ THE DAY

"It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet.”
-- Michael Ruppert, WSJ, 4/11/09


Login



Peak Oil is You


donate bitcoins ;-) or paypal :-)


Page added on June 19, 2013

Bookmark and Share

We Will Not Run Out of Fossil Fuels

We Will Not Run Out of Fossil Fuels thumbnail

Jeffrey Rissman, policy analyst at Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology, contributed this article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Fossil fuels are formed from the remains of plants and animals that died hundreds of millions of years ago, buried and transformed by heat and pressure. Since these fuels require millions of years to form, for human purposes, the supply of fossil fuels on Earth is effectively fixed. This has led to predictions — such as those based on the “peak oil” theory first proposed by geologist M. King Hubbert in 1956 — that the world will experience an economically damaging scarcity of fossil fuels, particularly oil.

However, new technologies for oil and gas exploration and extraction have upended the notion of fossil fuel scarcity: The limiting factor on humans’ fossil fuel use will not be the exhaustion of economically recoverable fossil fuels, but the exhaustion of the Earth’s capacity to withstand the harmful byproducts of fossil fuel combustion .

For decades, energy producers have continually identified new fossil fuel reserves and developed technologies that enable people to economically recover oil and gas from deposits previously deemed too difficult to access. That has enabled cumulative fuel production to greatly exceed previous estimates of reserves. [Earth in the Balance: 7 Crucial Tipping Points]

For example, the Energy Information Administration reports that in 1977, the United States had just 32 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 207 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. Between 1977 and 2010, the U.S. extracted 84 billion barrels of oil (2.6 times the 1977 reserve estimate) and 610 trillion cubic feet of gas (2.9 times the reserve estimate). And, large reserves remain. In fact, in recent years, the size of U.S. reserves has actually grown (by more than a third since 2011), primarily as a result of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technologies that enable economical access to oil and gas deposits trapped in underground rock formations.

Oil companies, gas companies and the federal government collectively invest billions of dollars each year in research and development to create new fossil fuel technologies. The state of the art will continue to advance, enabling economical access to new reserves well into or beyond the 21st century. There is even the potential for a major breakthrough that enables access to new types of reserves. For example, Japan recently announced that they were able to extract methane from undersea hydrate deposits, a world first. Methane hydrates may contain more than twice as much carbon as in all of Earth’s fossil fuels combined.

Even if no more fossil fuels were to be discovered or deemed extractable, our nations already possess far more reserves and recoverable resources worldwide than we can burn without destroying the climate. Humanity has burned just a small portion of our fossil fuels to date.

Despite having used such a small fraction of our fossil fuels, the planet has already experienced warming of more than 1 degree Celsius. Given the existing infrastructure base and the continuing growth of global emissions, it is no longer feasible to avoid exceeding 2 degrees Celsius, a target the international community has long sought to achieve in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

If we all continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels for our energy supply, climate-change related damages will become very severe long before there is any real pressure on our fossil fuel supply. A transition to a clean energy economy cannot be motivated by a scarcity of fossil fuels — it must be driven by a concerted effort to keep the climate livable and healthy.

livescience



13 Comments on "We Will Not Run Out of Fossil Fuels"

  1. Kenz300 on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 12:21 pm 

    Quote — “If we all continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels for our energy supply, climate-change related damages will become very severe long before there is any real pressure on our fossil fuel supply. A transition to a clean energy economy cannot be motivated by a scarcity of fossil fuels — it must be driven by a concerted effort to keep the climate livable and healthy.”
    ————————–

    Well said !

  2. Airwicky on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 12:22 pm 

    This article seems off i would say. The stats on the reserves and the production from 1977 dont quite fit i’d say. I dont really know. The climate may very well give us unimaginable problems before peak oil but i would say since we are most likely past peak then it’ll affect the average westerner first and hard

  3. Mike on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 12:40 pm 

    Both crisis are happening right now at the same time. Why can’t these dipshits actually notice what’s going on in the world around them?

  4. GregT on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 1:11 pm 

    Ocean Acidification, species loss, forest die offs, soil degradation, as well as overpopulation, are all crises that are happening right now. All of then can be attributed to our use of fossil fuels.

  5. Beery on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 1:21 pm 

    “A transition to a clean energy economy cannot be motivated by a scarcity of fossil fuels — it must be driven by a concerted effort to keep the climate livable and healthy.”

    That’s a nice idea, and if we were living in Fairyland it might even be possible to convince most people that keeping the climate livable and healthy is important. But we live in the real world where no one cares where they get their energy as long as it’s cheap and plentiful. As long as complete climate catastrophe is more than a century away, no one is ever going to care.

  6. Sharpie on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 1:30 pm 

    “We Will Not Run Out of Fossil Fuels”

    So our planet’s resources are infinite and can be extracted at ever greater rates per day?

    Riiiight.

  7. Malarchy on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 2:15 pm 

    No serious Peak Oiler ever claims that we will run out of oil. It just gets more and more difficult and expensive to extract it. But no matter how advanced the technology gets there will inevitably come a point when it takes the energy of a barrel of oil to extract a barrel of oil. Then it’s game over. When this happens is a separate issue.

  8. BillT on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 2:45 pm 

    live science is owned by an investment firm and is one of several rags pushing investments.

    They have no reason to be truthful or correct. After all, they are fishing for suckers. Not Awards in Ecology.

    The Age of Oil will end when cost exceeds ability to pay. Yes, that will be before the last drop is recovered.

  9. zaphod42 on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 4:18 pm 

    Y’all need to read the entire article. It does NOT say there is no peak oil. It says that climate change trumps peak oil, and the impact of CC will be the end of oil use, along with everything else. At least that is how I read it.

    The dipshits don’t get it because they ARE dipshits. More – - – some are sociopaths, and many are psychopaths, who have no hesitation in bringing on global disaster, so long as they get richer today.

    Craig

  10. dave thompson on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 6:41 pm 

    We will become minimalists or parish.

  11. socrates1fan on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 7:19 pm 

    More poor understanding of oil extraction, return on investment, and net energy gain/loss.

  12. Anthony McCarthy on Wed, 19th Jun 2013 9:21 pm 

    How do you know when a minister is for the chop? When the prime minister says that he has his full support.
    It is the same with oil supplies – how do we know that supplies are getting tight? When mainstream media says there is no problem.
    If there was no problem there would be no need to write about it!

  13. Dmyers on Thu, 20th Jun 2013 12:58 am 

    It’s the same old song. Again, we have this awesome new energy outlook, thanks to the fracking/horizontal technology that made it possible. Think Maugeri – Harvard Think Tank – where this all began. This is exactly the same spin Maugeri put on it. We have this vast new supply of petroleum, but if we burn it, we will suffer climactic disaster.

    In short, this is another Maugeri knock-off, with the emphasis on Maugeri’s other point.