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The Atlantic: What if we never run out of oil?


tengen
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The article is poorly titled.  By "oil" I think he means "hydrocarbons".  Its an excellent article otherwise. I don't believe we ever have to worry about running out of hydrocarbons, by the time we do we will either be able to get as much as we want from space or, more likely, we will be using some other form of energy.  I predict that by the end of this century the problem all the doomsayers will have their panties in a bunch about will be all the co2 we are pulling out of the atmosphere to build things out of carbon nanotubes, graphene, or eventually even diamond, with our nanotechnologies.  Some time in the next 85 years the demagogues will switch from too much co2 causing global warming to too little co2 bringing about "the next ice age".  Either way we'll be told it requires more government regulations and control, but of course if scientist really believe the planet is in danger work will be done to counter it. As I said I'm not worried about global warming only because I know that we will soon have the opposite problem.

 

Some related links:

"The quantity of hydrocarbons in asteroids in the inner solar system exceeds all of the known petroleum and coal sources on Earth."

 

New discovery may allow scientists to make fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere

 

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I am in Houston.

 

I have spoken with petroleum engineers in the recent past.

 

Some of them think there is  LOT more oil than what is commonly known.

 

One guy gave me the example that large parts of the Middle East have never been explored for oil.  An even larger part was explored back in the 40's & 50's.  If it were gone over with modern technology, a LOT more oil would be found.

 

There is a TON of oil in Mexico, and it is not being properly utilized.  PEMEX is running the company strictly for cash flow, and they have been UNDERINVESTING for years & years.  If the Mexican fields were properly managed and properly re-worked, there are billions of more oil that could be extracted.

 

I have also heard rumors that there is TONS of oil up in Alaska.  A lot more is up there than what is "conventionally known".

 

Another intriguing thing is that there could be large amounts of oil in the Mid-West, specifically Michigan & Indiana. 

 

We may be running out of "cheap & easy" oil, but with oil at $100/barrel OR MORE, I don't think we will run out of "expensive" oil any time soon.

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The problem is the massive chemical experiment we're running with our planet's atmosphere by pumping billions and billions of tons of CO2 into it year after year. I don't believe this can be hand-waved away. That'll be a big problem way before we run out of gas/oil/coal/etc. IMO the way the price of renewables is dropping and batteries are improving, at some point it hopefully won't make sense to burn anywhere near as much of the stuff... Might not be for a while, though, but we could accelerate that transition by removing subsidies (direct and indirect) for fossil fuels and pricing in some of the costs of burning it that aren't part of the current price mechanism (so called "externalities"). The sooner the better IMO. It's also way more elegant from an engineering point of view to use power from sources that don't cause much damage and use that energy at very high efficiencies in electric motors than to dig up hydrocarbons and then burn them with thermal efficiencies in the 20-30% range (for cars) and 30-60% range for power plants, letting most of the energy go unused as waste heat. Someday our civilization will look back on this and see it as a necessary but wasteful and destructive phase of its development.

 

http://i.imgur.com/31nlKsT.jpg

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. Someday our civilization will look back on this and see it as a necessary but wasteful and destructive phase of its development.

 

Of course.  We do what we need to do at each stage in our development. Technology is all about bootstrapping from one level to another.  Hydrocarbons are dirty, but burning them is certainly better than hunting whales for their blubber and having city streets covered in horse dung.

 

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The problem is the massive chemical experiment we're running with our planet's atmosphere by pumping billions and billions of tons of CO2 into it year after year. I don't believe this can be hand-waved away. That'll be a big problem way before we run out of gas/oil/coal/etc. IMO the way the price of renewables is dropping and batteries are improving, at some point it hopefully won't make sense to burn anywhere near as much of the stuff... Might not be for a while, though, but we could accelerate that transition by removing subsidies (direct and indirect) for fossil fuels and pricing in some of the costs of burning it that aren't part of the current price mechanism (so called "externalities"). The sooner the better IMO. It's also way more elegant from an engineering point of view to use power from sources that don't cause much damage and use that energy at very high efficiencies in electric motors than to dig up hydrocarbons and then burn them with thermal efficiencies in the 20-30% range (for cars) and 30-60% range for power plants, letting most of the energy go unused as waste heat. Someday our civilization will look back on this and see it as a necessary but wasteful and destructive phase of its development.

 

http://i.imgur.com/31nlKsT.jpg

 

+100

 

Thanks Liberty, I wanted to answer this thread, but I didn't take the time..but now, nothing to add, you said it very well.

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