We should be thankful that the gloom-and-doom predictions made throughout the past several decades haven’t come true. Fear-mongering about explosive population growth, food crises and the imminent depletion of natural resources have been a staple of Earth Day events since 1970. And the common thread among them is that they’ve stirred up a lot more emotions than facts.
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate … that there won’t be any more crude oil,” ecologist Kenneth Watt warned around the time of the first Earth Day event. “You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ’er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” Watt also warned of global cooling and nitrogen buildup rendering all of the planet’s land unusable.
The plots of the Seinfeld TV show often revolved around trivializing important things and blowing trivial things out of proportion. While not a Seinfeld fanatic (I’m more of a Frasierfanatic), I thought the comedy routines were generally brilliant and quite effective.
Peak Oil, abiotic oil and EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) are largely academic concepts. They are the subject of books, academic publications and Internet “debates” The “debates” about Peak Oil, abiotic oil and EROEI are a lot like the Seinfeld show. They magnify the trivial and trivialize things that actually matter. The “debates” often divide into two camps:
It’s the end of the world (Peak Oil, EROEI).
It’s our salvation from the end of the world (Abiotic oil).
While all three of these energy-related topics are, at least to some extent, real, none of them have the slightest relevance to energy production… except for Peak Oil… But the relevance is generally missed by both sides in Internet “debates.”
I had originally intended on combining Peak Oil, abiotic oil and EROEI into one post; but realized that it would have been longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. So, this post will be limited to Peak Oil. Part Deux will deal briefly with abiotic oil and Part Trois will deal more extensively with EROEI.
Peak Oil: A Real Thing That Doesn’t Matter
What is Peak Oil?
La géologie, une science plus que passionnante … et diverse