Good news from Michael Lynch, appearing August 24 in an op-ed in the New York Times. This whole oil scarcity idea is really off – by a factor of 5, to be exact. Lynch says the consensus among geologists is that there are 10 trillion barrels of oil out there, not a mere 2 trillion, so – relax! Oil is abundant.
My relief is palpable. For a while there I thought oil rigs might appear off American coasts or invade ANWR. Or that we would continue to raze mountaintops to burn climate-ravaging coal. Or cause horrendous environmental damage by cooking tar sands. But now we can ease off on all that, because oil is abundant.
I do wish, however, that Lynch had settled a few issues he raised, such as why, if oil is so abundant, we keep having to dig deeper and deeper to find less and less of it. And why the advanced extraction technologies he mentions have failed to reverse the decline of even the world’s best managed oilfields. And when exactly our technology will advance to a point that makes “easy oil” out of fields miles down in deep ocean, because right now oil companies are finding it prohibitively expensive and risky.
Truth is of course that the “abundance” of oil is irrelevant if you can’t actually produce it when you need it, or get it for yourself when others produce it. The world has an abundance of food, yet something like 1 out of 6 people is hungry and 25,000 children die of hunger every day. And food is dead easy to make and transport compared with oil.
This article in the Financial Times says that the threat of an oil shortage is real: in their words: “we are now of the collective view that peak oil is a high-risk, high-consequence issue.” Read and decide for yourself what will happen to the price of oil in the next few years. Creative Commons photo by ccgd via Flickr.