The Great Electrifier: Exploding the Peak Oil Myth
  • Here is why peak oil is and always has been a complete myth:

    From the moment oil first made it into the mainstream, peak oil and the imminent depletion of fossil fuels have been vehemently predicted.

    A by-no-means exhaustive list of those predictions might run something like this:

    “I take this opportunity to express my opinion in the strongest terms, that the amazing exhibition of oil which has characterized the last twenty, and will probably characterize the next ten or twenty years, is nevertheless, not only geologically but historically, a temporary and vanishing phenomenon – one which young men will live to see come to its natural end” (1886, J.P. Lesley, state geologist of Pennsylvania).

    “There is little or no chance for more oil in California” (1886, U.S. Geological Survey).

    “There is little or no chance for more oil in Kansas and Texas” (1891, U.S. Geological Survey).

    “Total future production limit of 5.7 billion barrels of oil, perhaps a ten-year supply” (1914, U.S. Bureau of Mines).

    “Reserves to last only thirteen years” (1939, Department of the Interior).

    “Reserves to last thirteen years” (1951, Department of the Interior, Oil and Gas Division).

    “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade” (President Jimmy Carter speaking in 1978 to the entire world).

    “At the present rate of use, it is estimated that coal reserves will last 200 more years. Petroleum may run out in 20 to 30 years, and natural gas may last only another 70 years” (Ralph M. Feather, Merrill textbook Science Connections Annotated Teacher’s Version, 1990, p. 493).

    “At the current rate of consumption, some scientists estimate that the world’s known supplies of oil … will be used up within your lifetime” (1993, The United States and its People).

    “The supply of fossil fuels is being used up at an alarming rate. Governments must help save our fossil fuel supply by passing laws limiting their use” (Merrill/Glenco textbook, Biology, An Everyday Experience, 1992).

    (Give particular heed to that last sentence.)

    Quotes like these could fill hundreds of pages easily.

    There comes a point, however — and we reached it long ago — when one needs to stop swallowing these scare-mongering scenarios.

    There comes a point when one needs to look at the entire history of doomsday predictions and learn something from their long and undistinguished history of incontrovertible failure.

    There comes a point, finally, when one needs to question what motivates these people.

    To the millions of you who believe the latest round of dire forecasts, I ask you this in all seriousness:

    What do you really think — that all the other apocalyptic predictions and predictors, over all the centuries and millennium, were wrong, but people like James Howard Kunstler and Richard Heinberg have at last got it right?

    The fact is that anyone can say whatever he wants about anything. But that doesn’t necessarily make it true.

    The 1970s book Limits to Growth, for instance, is chock full of reams of “hard data” proving mass famine and the end of the world as we know it — all to occur in a just couple of short decades from when it was written — but none of it came to pass. Not one word of it.

    Thomas Malthus’s economic predictions of population-caused famines also failed stupendously, and Malthus himself — a guru of present-day environmentalists — eventually came to reject his early writings. No matter: This doesn’t stop neo-Malthusians like environmental high priest Lester Brown from forecasting a “2004 or 2005 worldwide famine.”

    Or Dr. Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University laying “even odds that by the year 2000 Great Britain will no longer exist.”

About The Author

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning as the constant in my life.

7 Responses and Counting...

  • Scott 07.13.2017

    As you know, given “we” are mostly just less furry “chimps” … the above sounds about right. Look for it to continue as long as emotion over-rides data (scratches own armpit).

    “The gods that we’ve made are exactly the gods you’d expect to be made by a species that’s about half a chromosome away from being chimpanzee.”

    Christopher Hitchens

    Now, will America be here by January 2021? … : )

  • That list of predictions was extraordinarily entertaining. I’d never seen it before.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • Thank you for your thought provoking power punches on peak oil! I say this idea is another smoke screen, keeping us divided and afraid for the wrong reasons. I propose that modern societies must rely on electromagnetic energy and rapidly move away from combustion energy. It is distructive and the environment we must live in suffers, tremendously. That is why I like how J.P. Lesley puts it. Not because oil will run out but because we will develop technologies that will eliminate our dependency on major forms of combustion energy. I did cry a little laugh however to see complacency and shortsightedness, even in those early days of oil. Societies must agree on the nature of the sun and how to utilize it. It is the most amazing and powerful energy source we have access to.

  • Hello there!

    The sun may (or may not) very well be the”most amazing energy source we have access to,” as you say, but creating the mechanisms whereby we store and use the sun’s energy is by-no-means efficient: among many other difficulties, it requires the massive use of fossil fuels.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • Yes, that is the thing you got bouncing around in my head ealier. Thank you for restating it. That gives me a very good direction to point my research. To clarify, I am not talking about solar pannels here, more like antigravity, perpetual motion, using electricity and magnetism in a much more advanced way. These are lofty ideas that I need to back up with real understanding.

  • You doing awesome, my friend, and I miss you like mad.

  • Thank you, I have great examples to follow. I am certainly long over due for a shot of green chili vodka from the best bar tender ever.

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