According to the US Geological Survey, the earth currently has more than three trillion barrels of conventional recoverable oil resources. So far, we have produced one trillion of that.
According to James, oil companies tend to under-estimate the amount of crude-oil resources, because they have “natural interest in maintaining a perception of scarcity”. I think that is half the argument: They also have an interest in maintaining a perception of having a viable business model, and that surely depends on there being plenty of oil to extract, no?
A hat-tip to Devil’s Kitchen, who thinks our worries over Peak Oil are a red herring:
We need to wean ourselves off the oil as fast as possible in order to negate the stranglehold that the dictators in the Middle East have over us.
True, but I think even this still misses the point.
Forget global warming, forget the mathematical fact of finite resources, forget middle-eastern politics. Burning fossil fuels is, well, like… minging. Any cyclist who has stopped at traffic-lights behind a bus will attest to this objective fact. The buildings in our cities – all human cities – are stained black with the residue of this continuous combustion.
I read a lot of indignant prose from both environmental campaigners who complain about the lack of urgency at combatting global warming; and from climate change deniers who resist these apparently fascist demands on their freedom and their lifestyle. Let me remind everyone of the facts: We set fire to chemicals and make everything just a little bit smellier, dirtier, and more carcinogenic to every living thing than it was the day before (we don’t even have the decency to add any nicotine to the mixture). I maintain that no-one, whether they are part of this species or another, thinks this is pleasant. The picture is already preposterous enough, without adding global climate change into the mix.
Since industry uses so much fuel to power the economy, an instant change is unlikely. Nevertheless, vast chunks of our daily lives that could be powered by renewable sources. The ‘standby’ indicator light on my DVD player could be kept glowing by a hamster and a wheel, so I feel sure that A Drop Of Golden Sun could do it too. Why not leave the argument about whether solar and wind can actually power our entire lifestyles, for the day when we have a wind-mill and solar-panel in everyone’s back yard? Purely in terms of smell I would rather have a spoilt view, than a cloud of carbon monoxide haze, and I say that before I count the extra change in my pocket, and before my government realises it no longer has to be nice to Wahhabists.
Finally: Let us remember that having only a couple of trillion barrels of oil in reserve is still a crisis for humanity. Some of us are still holding out hope for the colonisation of other planets in the solar system (and beyond), and we need all the resources we can find.
Stop using our precious fossil fuels for your Land Rover! I need it for my space-ship.