World Oil Patch Problems Solved — Again

by Val Germann

One of the chief tools of the propagandist is the “straw man” argument, one that sets up a false premise and then knocks it down, supposedly defeating the enemies of the propagandist, who are associated with the false premise.  A recent article on the TERRADAILY website reports on just such an incident: the use by an academic of the classical straw man.  The lead paragraph sets the tone:

If you think the world is on the verge of running out of oil or other mineral resources, you’ve been taken in by the foremost of seven myths about resource geology, according to a University of Washington economic geologist. “The most common question I get is, ‘When are we going to run out of oil.’ The correct response is, ‘Never,'” said Eric Cheney. 

This writer could only sigh with relief, intoning, “Whew, I’m so glad THAT problem is solved!”  Of course, hardly anyone is saying that the world is “running out of oil” but rather that the growth in oil production is about to end and a decline begin.  That’s what Hubbert was wrting about in the 1950s and that’s what the “Peak Oilers” are writing about now, causing one to wonder just how “peak oil”  became “running out of oil.”  In  the end though the question is moot because it seems there is a slight catch to Cheney’s argument, viz: 

“It might be a heck of a lot more expensive than it is now, but there will always be some oil available at a price, perhaps $10 to $100 a gallon.” 

Anyone can see the “myth” here, can’t they, that there might be a problem with $100 per gallon gasoline?  Why it’s obvious that there would be no problem at all because, let me see, I could fill up my Buick for a mere $2,400!  Yes, indeed, that would be a world wide breeze even though something like 99.9% of the human race would be “out of oil” — priced out — which amounts to the same thing. 

That is, what do you think the world volume of petroleum sales would be if gasoline were going for $100 a gallon in today’s money, making a barrel of oil worth about $3,000? 

Ain’t academia great?

Read the entire TERRADAILY article here

About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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