North America’s Incredibly Expanding Resources (New study puts ‘peak’ oil, gas, and coal in some future century)
“Human beings create more than they destroy.”
- Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2 (Princeton, N.Y.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 580.
“People have since antiquity worried about running out of natural resources–flint, game animals, what-have-you. Yet, amazingly, all the historical evidence shows that raw materials–all of them–have become less scarce rather than more…. And there is no reason why this trend should not continue forever.”
- Julian Simon, “The State of Humanity: Steadily Improving,” Cato Policy Report, September/October 1995.
There is only one thing that is going up more than government subsidies for uneconomic wind and solar power: oil, gas, and coal reserves and resources in the United States, according to a new study released yesterday by the Institute for Energy Research (IER) assessing total North American inventory.
The U.S. is the world’s most endowed energy country, followed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, and China. At current consumption rates, we have hundreds of years of domestic oil and gas, and thousands of years of coal.
Stephen Hayward explains this and more in this video:
IER’s inventory of the energy resources of North America found:
- When combined with resources from Canada and Mexico, the total recoverable oil in North America exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels. That’s more than the entire world has used in 150 years, and sufficient to fuel the present needs in the United States for the next 250 years.
- In the last 30 years, the United States produced 77 billion barrels of oil, which was more than 150 percent of the estimated reserves in 1980.
- The total amount of recoverable natural gas in North America is approximately 4.2 quadrillion (4,244 trillion) cubic feet. That is enough natural gas in North America to last for the next 175 years at current rates of consumption.
- There is more recoverable natural gas in North America, Canada, and Mexico than the combined proved reserves in Russia, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan.
- North America has more than 497 billion short tons of recoverable coal, or nearly three times as much as Russia, which has the world’s second largest reserves. In fact, North America’s recoverable coal resources are bigger than the five largest non-North American countries’ reserves combined (Russia, China, Australia, India, Ukraine.)
- A scarcity of good policies, not a scarcity of energy, is responsible for U.S. energy insecurity.
Less Government, More Energy
“The current administration and its green energy allies in business and in Washington appear willing to drive up the price of energy for American consumers by limiting access to our vast resources. For the past several years, taxpayer dollars have been spent to fund unproven green energy pipe dreams, while Americans have been denied the opportunity to utilize the coal, oil, and natural gas that is literally under our feet,” said IER President Tom Pyle about the report.
“This energy report should change the conversation in Washington and promote policies that reproduce nationwide the energy boom in places like North Dakota, where unemployment is at now at 3.5 percent (the lowest in the nation) and domestic production on private lands has more than tripled in the last five years. The Institute for Energy Research is proud to release this report, the culmination of months of research and analysis by IER experts. We have drawn from a broad array of government, industry, and university data to present hard facts — not myths — about our energy future. The report presents a clearer picture than the anti-fracking, anti-drilling, and anti-exploring ideologues in Washington want the American people to see.”
The Ultimate Resource (Julian Simon Lives)!
Resources expand, not deplete, in free-market settings where the ultimate resource of human ingenuity reigns.
It is time to dismiss the false theories and facts of the “peak energy” school of thought and embrace an open-ended view of the resource-rich world. As Julian Simon explained in chapter 2 of his treatise, The Ultimate Resource 2:
Material-technical forecasts of resource exhaustion often go wrong for two reasons.
- No matter how closely defined, the physical quantity of a resource in the earth is not known at any time, because resources are sought and found only as they are needed; an example is the increase in the known supplies of such resources as copper, as shown in table 2-1 and figure 2-1.
- Even if the physical quantities of particular closely defined natural resources were known, such measurements would not be economically meaningful, because we have the capacity to develop additional ways to meet our needs – for example, by using fiber optics instead of copper wiring, by developing new ways to exploit low grades of copper ore previously thought not usable, and by developing new energy sources such as nuclear power to help produce copper, perhaps by extracting it from sea water.
Thus the existing “inventory” of natural resources is operationally misleading; physical measurements do not define what we will be able to use as future supplies.