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Category — Peak Oil Quotations

The Great Energy Resource Debate (Part II: Neo-Malthusian Alarmism)

[Editor note: The other posts in this series are The Great Energy Resource Debate (Part I: Peak Oil was … is here!) and The Great Energy Resource Debate (Part III: Pessimists Turn Optimistic!). Part IV will look at the theoretical case for resource expansionism in light of the preceding posts.]

[Editor note: Part I

http://www.masterresource.org/2011/06/great-resource-debate-iii-new-optimists/

“All oil and gas resources should be carefully husbanded—i.e. extracted as late and as slowly as possible. Our descendents will be grateful. We, too, shall need a long bridge to the future.”

- Amory Lovins, World Energy Strategies: Facts, Issues, and Options (New York: Friends of the Earth International, 1975), p. 127.

Yesterday's post provided quotations from a variety of sources espousing a pessimistic, closed view of the mineral resource world as it pertains to oil, gas, and even coal. The names included Daniel Yergin (circa 1979), Jimmy Carter, James Schlesinger, Matt Simmons, Colin Campbell, and John Holdren.

Today's post taps into the neo-Malthusian mainstays such as Paul Ehrlich, Barry Commoner, Al Gore, Lester Brown, Amory Lovins, Christopher Flavin--all of whom forecast the coming end of the fossil fuel era.

Paul Ehrlich

“A genuine world shortage of pumpable petroleum appears certain by the turn of the century if demand continues to grow as it did in the 1960s.”

- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 44.

“Most of the easily accessible sources of fossil fuels and mineral resources are long gone, and the rising prices reflect the necessity to dig deeper, travel farther, and refine lower-grade ore in order to obtain them.”

- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 100.

“The seriousness of the raw material situation had been brought home during the Congressional Hard Resources hearing in 1971. The exposure of the cornucopian economists had been quite a spectacle—a spectacle brought into virtually every American’s home in living color. Few would forget the distinguished geologist from the University of California who suggested that economists be legally required to learn at least the elementary facts of geology. . . . The overall message was clear: America’s resource situation was bad and bound to get worse.”

- Paul Ehrlich, “Eco-Catastrophe,” Ramparts, September 1969, reprinted in Robert Crandall and Richard Eckaus, Contemporary Issues in Economics: Selected Readings (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972), p. 527.

“Compared to what will occur if we do not start seriously conserving energy—and compared to the food, environmental, and economic crises soon to come—the 1973–74 energy shortage was truly only a mini-crisis.”

- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), pp. 48–49.

“By the 1980s, the depletion of accessible reserves of many nonrenewable resources—notably, but not exclusively, petroleum—was becoming more and more evident.”

- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The Population Explosion (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990), p. 57.

“We can be reasonably sure . . . that within the next quarter of a century mankind will be looking elsewhere than in oil wells for its main source of energy. . . . We can also be reasonably sure that the search for alternatives will be a frantic one.”

- Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Riverside, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 49. [Read more →]

May 13, 2011   6 Comments

The Great Energy Resource Debate (Part I: Peak Oil was … is here!)

[Editor note: The posts in this series are The Great Energy Resource Debate (Part II: Neo-Malthusian Alarmism) and The Great Energy Resource Debate (Part III: Pessimists Turn Optimistic!). Part IV will look at the theoretical case for resource expansionism in light of the preceding posts.]

“It is clear that domestic [U.S.] oil, gas, coal, and nuclear cannot deliver vastly increased supplies, although it is equally clear that these sources cannot be ignored.”

- Robert Stobaugh and Daniel Yergin, “Conclusion: Toward a Balanced Energy Program,” in Stobaugh and Yergin, eds., Energy Future (New York: Random House, 1979), p. 216.

“The gas lines and rapid increases in oil prices during the first half of 1979 are but symptoms of the underlying oil supply problem—that is, the world can no longer count on increases in oil production to meet its energy needs.”

- U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Oil Market in the Years Ahead (August 1979) p. iii.

From the beginning of the U.S. oil industry in the mid-nineteenth century, warnings have  heard from intellectuals, industry experts, politicians, industry practitioners, pundits, and novices alike that that oil (and natural gas) were physically in decline.

How many times have we heard ‘the easy oil is gone’ … ‘the low-cost oil has been found’ …. ‘the big fields are discovered’ … ‘costs and therefor prices must go up’ ….?

But the reality has been quite the opposite, particularly under free market conditions where resourceship (entrepreneurship applied to mineral resources) could reign.

This series on the great energy resource debate begins with a series of quotations from the beginning of the industry in the 1850s through the 1970s. Readers are invited to add other quotations as comments to further add to this collection.

I. Pre-1900 Pronouncements

“Hurry, before this wonderful product is depleted from Nature’s laboratory!”

- Advertisement for “Kier’s Rock Oil”, 1855, quoted in Edward Porter, Are We Running Out of Oil? American Petroleum Institute Discussion Paper #081, December 1995, p. 1.

“I take this opportunity to express my opinion in the strongest terms, that the amazing exhibition of oil which has characterized the last twenty years, and will probably characterize the next ten or twenty years, is nevertheless, not only geologically but historically, a temporary and vanishing phenomenon—one which young men will live to see come to its natural end.”

- Professor J.P. Lesley, State Geologist of Pennsylvania, 1886, quoted in Paul Giddens, Standard Oil Company (Indiana): Oil Pioneer of the Middle West (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1955), p. 2.

II: Pre-1970 Pronouncements

“We have anthracite coal for but 50 years, and bituminous coal for less than 2000. Our supplies of iron ore, mineral oil, and natural gas are being rapidly depleted, and many of the great fields are already exhausted.”

- Gifford Pinchot, “The Fight for Conservation,” 1906, quoted in Edward Porter, Are We Running Out of Oil? American Petroleum Institute Discussion Paper #081, December. 1995, p. 7.

“I’m sorry for you—coming to Texas [in 1915] to look for oil. Don’t you know there is no oil in Texas?!”

- Wallace Pratt, Consultant, “Oil Finding—the Way it Was,” Petroleum 2000 Issue, Oil & Gas Journal, August 1977, p. 144.

“The peak of [U.S.] production will soon be passed—possibly within three years.”

- David White, Chief Geologist, United States Geological Service, 1919, quoted in Edward Porter, Are We Running Out of Oil? American Petroleum Institute Discussion Paper #081, December 1995, p. 1. [Read more →]

May 12, 2011   8 Comments