Just in case you were looking for a couple more nails in the coffin of “peak oil,” the cataclysmic phenomenon that environmentalists are always feverishly insisting is just over the horizon, here you go. As much as the greenies like to use the “oil is a finite resource, we need to get off of it and switch to ‘sustainable’ energy, and SOON” line of attack to justify public “investments” in their green-energy whimsy, it’s an argument that increasingly has no meat to it. Yes, in some sense of the word, oil is a finite resource — but that fact is nothing to panic about. Since environmentalists’ precursors first predicted that we would run out of oil way back in the nineteenth century, not only have we constantly discovered more deposits, but we’ve also come up with the technology that makes more and more oil available for extraction. As Environmental Trends points out:
For decades now, the narrative of energy production in the United States has been one of growing energy impoverishment. Peak oil and peak gas advocates have been relentless in trying to scare us into using ever greater amounts of more expensive “renewable” forms of energy like wind and solar power.
But a funny thing happened on the way to peak everything: technology development has unlocked vast new sources of oil and natural gas. As the chart below shows, oil production rates in the United States now exceeds the level of production of 2001.
Want some specific examples of the sort of technological innovation we’re looking at? Business Insider has a great slideshow of the six largest untapped oil fields around the world that will almost certainly become available for our consumption at some point in the future:
Some aren’t reaching their potential in terms of oil extraction for political reasons.
Others present difficult technological challenges that haven’t quite been figured out yet.
These oil fields have the potential to seriously increase the world’s supply of oil if these political and technological issues can eventually be overcome, and the promise of the oil they contain is causing the industry to rise to the challenge.
Sorry I’m not much of a gloom-and-doomer, but I tend to think that over the coming decades, our demand for oil is indeed going to flatten out — but it’s not going to be because wind and solar are suddenly going to take off and demonstrate themselves able to provide energy on the same scale that traditional fuels have. It’s going to be because of more technological innovation and the accompanying efficiency. Thanks to free enterprise and profit motives, we’re everyday learning to do more with less, and that’s good news. You can see efficiency taking it’s awesome toll in all areas of environmental concern: Not merely with energy resources, but with things like the amount of resources needed for packaging and the ability to accomplish more and more tasks online. What reasons do we really have to believe that trend of material self-improvement won’t continue?