It is so entertaining to read about all the failed predictions of when we will run out of oil or some other critical resource. I keep coming across more and more absolute guarantees of when we already ran out of oil.
At its core, Peak Oil is merely another variation of the long discredited Malthusian arguments that we will run out of stuff. Such thinking is foolishly and fatally flawed.
Remember that until just a few years ago it was universally agreed by eeeeeevery scientist and researcher on the planet that we would absolutely run out of oil. It was settled science. No debate or argument necessary. No disagreement allowed.
For this particular journey down the trail of failed predictions, I thank Rob Port, writing at Say Anything Blog, for pointing me to the trail head for this expedition. In his article Settled Science: America Will Be Out Of Oil By 2015, he wrote
Because, you see, peak oil was settled science. Except, it also turned out to be wrong science, as most malthusian projections do, because it failed to take into account humanity’s infinite capacity to invent and innovate. In 2015 the big problem for the oil industry isn’t that they can’t find more oil, but rather that the market is being flooded with oil and that’s driving down prices.
The article points to a discussion at PaleoFuture on 9/18/15 which points us to an Article from 1975: The World Will Be Out of Oil by 2015. It quotes a 1975 article from Brownsville Herald which was syndicated by UPI and printed in many newspapers:
The United States may be totally independent of Arab oil by the year 2015.
Unfortunately so will everyone else because statistically that will be the year the last barrel of oil is pumped from the last well on earth.
The indisputable, unarguable, conclusive scientific proof cited in the article is the known proven world reserves were 103B metric tons at the time with annual consumption of 2.8B metric tons. Statistically, that gives exactly 36.78 years before all the oil on the planet is consumed. Adding that many years to the September 1975 publication date would actually give June 2012 for oil to completely run out. We will give the original author credit for another three years.
Point stands is that according to that article back in 1975, we are absolutely, totally, completely out of oil today.
Even as you read this post we all know the power for your car to get you to work tomorrow will be coming from the coal you loaded in your car’s boiler purchased from your friendly neighborhood coal station. (I don’t do sarcasm well, but that is the appropriate respect to give Peak Oil doctrine.)
Or perhaps, if you have an electric vehicle, which is only usable for commuting if your office is only a few miles away from your home, the power will come from a coal-fired generating power plant in Arizona. Yes, EVs are coal powered.
The same author of that article pointed out on December 11, 2014 that We’ve Been Incorrectly Predicting Peak Oil For Over a Century.
Please check out his article for the full detail of all the failed predictions. I will just give the headlines of when we will run out of oil or hit the peak, at which point production will begin an irreversible fall to zero:
1909: 25 or 30 years longer
1919: Two to five years until maximum production
1937: Gone in 15 years
1943: Peak oil has been reached
1945: Just thirteen years left
1956: Ten to fifteen years until peak oil
This was Dr. Hubbert’s prediction. His theories, calculations, and predictions are the foundation of Peak Oil doctrine.
1966: Gone in ten years
1972: U.S. oil depleted in twenty years
1977: Oil will peak by the early 90s
1980: In the year 2000
1996: Peak oil likely by 2020
2002: Global peak by the year 2010
2007: Sometime between now and 2040
The failed predictions from 1937, 1977, and 2007 are from official US Government sources. The others are from physicists, Nobel laureates, or industry experts.
Without a hint of irony, the author suggests the 100 year history of failed predictions is further proof that we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels. I’m not being sarcastic now. That is his point.
More figments of my imagination: