“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). [note, that would have been 1989!]
“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).
The problem with these people is a failure of imagination and ingenuity. Human progress, if left alone, will continue to find better and more efficient ways of finding and using energy. Here is an example of some very good news for the United States. The key point:
You'll notice I qualified human progress with the phrase, "if left alone." Gasohol (ethanol made from corn) started out in the Carter administration as a way to stretch oil (and gas) supplies. Even though we have plenty of gas (which can run autos just fine and is cleaner than oil), plenty of coal, and steady reserves of oil, the EPA wants us to use more corn to make more gasohol, even though this creates more pollution and uses more, rather than less, energy.
How much less expensive is gas? Here is a graph of prices for the past year:
|Courtesy: Wall Street Journal online|
Hat tip: Bishop Hill