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'Peak Rock': The ONION Goes Neo-Malthusian (Fixity/depletion curse expands)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 22, 2012

“We are on a collision course to a world without rocks. Only take as many rocks as you absolutely need.”

        – Dr. Victoria  Merrill, author, No Stone Unturned: Methods For Modern Rock Conservation

“Think about it. When was the last time you even saw a boulder?”

         – Henry Kaiser (ge0logist and Onion expert)

The easy oil has been found. There are no more mega-fields. Costs up … prices up … economic stress … crises.

We have such certain knowledge from the smartest guys in many rooms: Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, Colin Campbell, Jean LaherrèreRichard Heinberg, Chris Skrebowski, Matthew Simmons, …. and Kenneth Deffeyes.

Oil output peaked on December 16, 2005, in case you did not know it, according to geologist Kenneth Deffeyes in his 2010 book When Oil Peaked, available at Amazon in hardcover for one penny (yes, one penny!).

Deffeyes in this book updated his analysis from his previous tomes, Hubbert’s Peak (2001) and Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak (2005).

Two quotes from Princeton University-affiliated Deffeyes are highlighted at Wikipedia:

  • “Crude oil is much too valuable to be burned as a fuel.”
  • “The economists all think that if you show up at the cashier’s cage with enough currency, God will put more oil in ground.”

Onion Weighs In

Well, the Onion has taken Deffeyes logic to a new level. Yes, rock exhaustion is hard to imagine right now, but the fixity/depletion principle is indisputably at work. The article follows:

Geologists: ‘We May Be Slowly Running Out Of Rocks’

May 1, 2010 | RALEIGH, NC—A coalition of geologists are challenging the way we look at global stone reserves, claiming that, unless smarter methods of preservation are developed, mankind will eventually run out of rocks.

Image: Geologists theorize that areas like this may have once been filled with rocks.

“If we do not stop using them up at our current rate, rocks as we know them will be a thing of the past,” renowned geologist Henry Kaiser said at a press conference Tuesday. “Igneous, metamorphic, even sedimentary: all of them could be gone in as little as 500,000 years.”

“Think about it,” Kaiser added. “When was the last time you even saw a boulder?”

The scientists warned that, although people have long considered the world’s rock supply to be inexhaustible, it has not created a significant number of new rocks since the planet cooled some 3.5 billion years ago. Moreover, the earth’s rocks have been very slowly depleting in the last century due to growing demand for fireplace mantels, rock gardens, gravel, and paperweights.

Kaiser claims that humanity has “wreaked havoc” on the earth’s stones by picking them up, carrying them around, and displacing them from their natural habitat.

“A rock can take millions of years to form, but it only takes a second for someone to skip a smooth pebble into a lake, and then it is gone.” Dr. Kaiser said. “Perhaps these thoughtless rock-skippers don’t care if they leave our planet completely devoid of rocks, but what about our children? Don’t they deserve the chance to hold a rock and toss it up and down a few times?”

Continued Kaiser, “We are on a collision course to a world without rocks.”

Geologist Victoria Merrill, who has been at the forefront of the rock conservation battle since 2004, said there are simple steps people can take to reduce their rock consumption.

“Only take as many rocks as you absolutely need,” said Dr. Merrill, author of the book No Stone Unturned: Methods For Modern Rock Conservation. “And once you are finished with your rocks, do not simply huck them into the woods. Place the rock down gently where you found it so that others may look at the rock and enjoy it for years to come.”

Merrill went on to point out that, even if there were some “magic hole” in the earth’s crust that could miraculously spew out rocks every 10 years or so, modern society’s obsession with rocks means that we would still run out of them far more quickly than they could be replenished.

“Just look at the pet rock craze: In 10 years, millions upon millions of rocks were painted, played with, and discarded like trash,” Merrill said. “Looking back, mankind’s arrogance and hubris is startling.”


But critics of the movement have already begun to surface, claiming that Kaiser and his colleagues are simply preying on people’s fears of losing rocks.

While acknowledging that we should reduce our dependence on foreign rocks, many have argued that the current rock supply could easily last for the next 2 million years, by which time technology will have advanced enough to allow for the production of endless quantities of cheap, durable basalt.

Others who oppose the rock-loss theory claim that rocks were put on the earth to be used by humans in marble statues or kitchen countertops as they see fit.

“Take the Rocky Mountains, for example: There’s plenty of rocks right there,” Colorado resident Kyle Peters said. “It’s our right as Americans to use as many rocks as we need for whatever purposes we decide, and no scientist is going to scare me into thinking otherwise.”

“This country was built on rocks,” he added. “Remember that.”

Satire rocks, doesn’t it!


  1. Otter  

    That was gneissly written. Crystal clear. There was a definite (sand) grain of truth to it. If such things continue, we’ll have to take it to the quartz.

    (it is 3:30 in the morning, do you know how tough puns are at this time of day?)


  2. Tom Tanton  

    For those who believe rocks are a finite resource, think “portland cement concrete”…just don’t tell the government or there will become a “Synrock Corporation” 😉


  3. Jon Boone  

    I’ll look forward to the next Onion piece, which I hope will be about distinguishing between those rocks and the hard places of our energy supply, particularly since we’ve already parsed, as a society, the difference between the age of rocks and the rock of ages.

    The Onion rocks….


  4. Donald Hertzmark  

    Do we have to worry about the mine shaft gap as well?


  5. Jon Boone  

    On a separate but related topic, I thought reader’s here might enjoy this slice of Onionesque reality realty:



    2700 SQ. FT. FULLY REMODELED FARM HOUSE IN WIND FARM. 16 acres, 40×60 pole barn, 30×40 work shop, 2 car garage, greenhouse, huge garden, rich soil, in ground irrigation, paved driveway, pond/ wetland. House is heated with biofuel (wood boiler), high efficiency forced air furnace back up, central air, hot tub, fully insulated, new windows and siding. Plenty of wind available for personal wind generator and 45 dBA turbine zoning ordinance. Insanely reasonable turbine setbacks. If you are serious about renewable energy, Move here and get off the grid! You will be in the middle of it all. Gods Country. 476ft. turbine 1100ft. from the bedroom window, 15 turbines within a mile, 26 turbines within 1-1/2 miles.

    This is all Guaranteed to hold its value by the U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, and Ben Hoen himself.

    Guaranteed not to lose any value from start to finish. And even better, noise won’t be a problem at any decibel level, Guaranteed by Peter Guldberg, Tech. Environmental.
    No adverse effects due to turbines guaranteed by Dr. Robert McCunney, MIT, Harvard, the AWEA, Can-WEA, GLREA, and MLUI, John Sarver, Mason County Attorney James Brown, the Mason County Planning Commission, and the majority of the Mason County Commissioners.

    You better contact me soon cause this won’t be on the market long. I will sell my house and property for $260,000. Riverton Township, Mason County, Michigan. I can be out in a week. I will even throw in a winter’s supply of biofuel.



  6. Michael Lynch  

    Although satirical, it highlights the poor logic that neo-Malthusians often employ. In Vienna last week, I noted that the increased size and sophistication of drilling rigs is taken to indicate that it’s harder to produce oil, then showed a slide comparing airplanes from 100 years ago and today, and queried whether we had reached peak sky.


  7. Robert Bradley Jr.: ‘Peak Rock’: The ONION Goes Neo-Malthusian (Fixity/depletion curse expands) | JunkScience.com  

    […] MasterResource Share this:PrintEmailMoreStumbleUponTwitterFacebookDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Development, Oil and gas, World resources and tagged irrational fears, peak oil & gas. Bookmark the permalink. ← Climate Depot Featured at UN Earth Summit […]


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