Monday, January 30, 2017

Dystopian Futures -- Is Our Hysteria Based On Facts?

On Saturday I posted an article I'd published in the late 90's about the work of Thomas Gold, an astrophysicist who turned his attention to the study of oil and its origins. The latter part of his life was devoted to confirming his theory that oil was an inexhaustible resource, not a scarce byproduct of decayed vegetation and dinosaurs.

For whatever reason, his research doesn't seem to be gaining any traction in the public mind. Instead, the same tired old hysteria keeps being repeated, that oil is being depleted and civilization as we know it is in serious trouble.

Here are more examples of the fear mongering.

1. "War, poverty and disease will probably not be eradicated... Yet they afflict only a portion of us at any time. However, economic and environmental disaster will likely afflict us all. That is why I foresee a set of concerns centered on energy us--resource depletion, disease and environmental decay--as the foremost problem confronting global citizens in the coming decades."
--Joseph M. Shuster, Beyond Fossil Fools

2. "This book is about oil--its birth, life and approaching death."
--Dilip Hiro, Blood of the Earth: The Battle for the World's Vanishing Oil Resources

3. The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by J. H. Kunstler

According to the Amazon description: "A controversial hit that sparked debate among businessmen, environmentalists, and bloggers, The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler is an eye-opening look at the unprecedented challenges we face in the years ahead, as oil runs out and the global systems built on it are forced to change radically."

4. Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil by David Goodstein
From the subtext: "Science tells us that an oil crisis is inevitable. Why and when? And what will our future look like without our favorite fuel?"

5. Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil by Michael C. Ruppert

6. Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World is another by Mr. Ruppert.

7. Life After Peak Oil by the South Korean research firm Life and Light.
"Peak Oil" is the tag line for the high water mark for oil production, with a downward slide ever after.
"Life After Peak Oil is an effort by South Korean research firm Light and Life to hold a friendly, yet frank, discussion with the world’s citizens about several important issues we face. The primary focus is around the limitations of fossil fuels, with peak-oil either already here or rapidly approaching, and the need to adapt our cultures to fit the natural reality."

8. Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak by Kenneth F. Deffeyes
Beyond Oil is even endorsed by a Nobel Laureate who states, "This book explains both why the decline of our most precious fuel is inevitable and how challenging it will be to cope with what comes next."―Richard E. Smalley, University Professor, Rice University, and 1996 Nobel laureate

Not every voice on this topic is singing in unison. Here are a few of the contrarians.

1. The "Peak Oil" Scare and the Coming Oil Flood by Michael C. Lynch

Is the earth's oil supply starting to run out, or is there far more oil than some experts believe? This book points out flaws in the research used to warn of an oil shortfall and predicts that large new reserves of oil are soon to be tapped.

2. The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels by Thomas Gold

Again, it was reading about Gold's work in the 80's that left me out of step with the prevailing winds. One reviewer of this book at Amazon.com stated: "My family has been in the oil business almost since it began. Being a very curious person, I received satisfactory explanations on every aspect of the business with one exception; how oil was created. I have never believed that crude oil came from dinosaurs and plants. Everyone else seems to believe it but I didn't and so I looked for a more satisfactory explanation. That is how I came upon Mr. Gold's book. His theory on the origin of oil is so compelling and answers so many questions, I have few doubts he will be proven correct in the future. In looking at this problem from so many different disciplines, he can see things that most people just cannot see."

* * * *
Please note that I am limiting this discussion to the singular theme of oil. I am not in any way denying that we have a host of problems waiting to ambush us in the years ahead. I do not believe that running out of oil is one of them.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Chad Teer, courtesy Wikipedia Commons

1 comment:

LEWagner said...

I am not a geologist, and I have no way of knowing.
It does seem that they're drilling deeper and deeper, farther and farther out, and now are boiling the oil out of the sands, in Canada, an enormously expensive and dirty process.
Who knows why they're doing that -- just because they can, maybe, and not because they have to.
I don't claim to know. Having reached my elderly years, I more and more prefer to limit my discussion to things I do know about.