A Geologist Weighs in on Peak Oil

We’ve blogged repeatedly, and somewhat skeptically, about the “peak oil” frenzy. Chris Turner of The Walrus recently profiled Dave Hughes, a Canadian geologist who has crisscrossed North America lecturing on the end of the fossil-fuel age. Hughes, who spent 32 years mapping Canada’s coal reserves, believes that “there’s no possible way to keep running the engine of a modern global economy for much longer at the pace we’re burning [hydrocarbons].” [%comments]


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  1. George Hoberg says:

    Well, does this change your view? I continue to be amazed at how folks can write stories about peak oil like this without talking to a resource economist! Best piece on this – Mark Jaccard chapter in Thomas Homer-Dixon’s Carbon Shift.

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  2. Peakisreal says:

    What do you mean you are skeptical about peak oil? There is no debate. The only thing in question is when it will hit.

    Just ask yourself why we have to go further and dig deeper to get stuff that’s not as nice as the old sweet crude. When you take a deep breath you will figure it out.

    If you are still not convinced, you will be in less than 3 years. Tops. The demand needs to catch up to past production numbers (around 86 mbd). When it does, look out. Good luck and I hope you are just full of it and are still preparing.

    If not, you have fire insurance right? Well, Peak has multiple times more chance to hit and hit early.

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  3. Mike says:

    Peakisreal, clearly oil is a finite resource that will eventually, someday, go into a serious production decline. The problem with you peak-oilers is that you’re constantly screaming that doomsday is here. We’ll be convinced in 3 years tops? Sure we will. How many times over the past decade have you people smugly stated “peak oil is here! end of the world as we know it!”? Yet here we are.

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  4. DaveyNC says:

    There is no peak oil, only peak easy oil. We will never run out of oil, period. However, it will eventually become too expensive to produce so that other forms of energy will be more economical, which will then leave the oil in the ground. Therefore, we won’t run out, though we may stop using so much of it. None of this will happen in the next 50 years.

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  5. Brianpdx says:

    Here is an interesting, true story. My grandmother (born in 1900) once described the hysteria created in 1910 of that day’s preeminent mathematicians calculating that the growth in the economy would soon falter and decline. The reasoning, that there were not enough horses alive in the United States to continue to do the work required and to birth new horses at the required rate. Caused quite a stir and frenzy. These were the top folks in that age. They left out of course the oil economy right around the corner. Seems to me that we are on the verge of the electric economy. If oil is the grease for the economy today and the cost continues to move higher, the efficient economies will adjust to new sources of power. Cheaper, cleaner will be brought online due to new technologies solving some of the older technologies weaknesses.

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  6. Glenn says:

    Brianpdx, if we’re moving to the electric economy, where are we getting the electricity from?

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  7. ruralcounsel says:

    Willful ignorance and blind optimism begets hysteria and doomsayers. Though Dave Hughes doesn’t sound too hysterical to me.

    The reality will probably be somewhere in between, since no one has a finely focused crystal ball. World-wide depression should stave off the collision for a while. But we should rest assured that cold hard reality will eventually turn over the rest of it’s cards and win the hand. While most of society screams in denial.

    No one says we’ll run out of hydrocarbons, but think long and hard about what it means when the EROEI is 1:1! Think it’s worth driving to the gas station if it takes you an entire tankfull of fuel to get there?

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  8. Kirilius says:

    To Glenn (@6): from the sun, wind, ocean tides and waves, geo thermal, etc.

    Of course shifting from oil to electricity will require huge investment but it has to happen anyway.

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