Tim on the Death of Oil

Tim posts on a talk given by somebody who is seriously trying to convince us that all the oil is running out.

Some people (including Chuq) posted in Tim’s comments that this sounds farfetched, and if it weren’t for the war and some short-term supply problems driving up the price of gas, this kind of talk wouldn’t get much play since it’s been on people’s minds for many years now. I vividly remember going through the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry during the oil shock of the 1970s and seeing a futuristic electronic countdown of how much oil the world had left. I seem to recall the countdown was at about thirty years or so. It’s now thirty years later, so clearly the doomsayers made a boo-boo.

It’s easy to freak out about this kind of stuff because people react more to bad news than good news. But I’m more of an Ultimate Resource 2 guy (the idea is that no natural resource will really ever run out as long as the real ultimate resource — the human mind — can figure out ways to synthesize more of the resource, or invent our way around the need for it).

That said, we obviously do need to get off the oil anyway. If stories like this prod us in the direction of pebble-bed reactors cracking hydrogen or big fusion tokamaks churning out the cheap and clean juice so I can run 20 more servers under my desk at home while I whiz to work at 150mph for a total monthly energy charge of $0.85, then I suppose it’s just as well.

(This is the second post tonight that I started writing as a comment on someone else’s blog, hm, wonder what that means.)