A Free-Market Energy Blog

Resourceship vs. Fixity/ Depletion: An Illustrative Debate

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 27, 2021

“Energy density is the silliest of all. Yours is ‘dense’ energy that we have to pay for, every day, forever, except that it eventually runs out, vs. energy that arrives for free, forever, and never runs out.” (Bryan, below)

“Perhaps wind and solar are not renewable energies because usable surface area is finite and the infrastructure otherwise wears out–or the technology is too expensive to even compete as a ‘nonrenewable.’ Solar is not ‘renewable’ for many hours of the day, right? Wind too.” (Bradley, below)

The term resourceship has been coined to understand why ‘depletable’ resources can an do expand over time. In fact, when it comes to oil, gas, and coal, such expansion has been for all time. Only nationalization, price controls, and other destructive government policies can reverse the natural progress of human ingenuity applied to minerals (as to non-minerals) in the real world.

In a recent social media exchange with a climate alarmist/forced energy transformationist, the debate between fixity/depletion and resourceship ensued. This exchange is valuable to see the difference between the hypothetical hard science view and the real world, social science view.

The victim in this case cannot think in terms of economics, business and public policy–really energy reality (data, precedent, process). He is stuck on a “fact” that he cannot even estimate for fear of being far too low: a geologic total of the BTUs of carbon-based energy in the earth’s crust.

Water in a canteen in the desert? That is one thing. Hydrocarbons on earth? That is quite another for today’s “sustainability” debate.

Paul Bryan [Ed note: he has blocked this link] is a technology expert whose consultancy focuses on “Renewable/Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals, and synergy/competition of these with their conventional fossil-based equivalent.” He is from San Francisco, has taught at Cal-Berkley, and is a veteran of the DOE labs. Much of his career has been tied to unconventional, uneconomic, government-dependent technologies. Please not that I do not use any of this against him re disposition and motives. I try to stay on point and urge him to drop the personal attacks, which he is simply unable to do. (An earlier part of our exchange is here.)

Paul Bryan: Nothing either new or correct in your arguments, just well-paid fossil propaganda.

Energy density is the silliest of all. Yours is “dense” energy that we have to pay for, every day, forever, except that it eventually runs out, vs. energy that arrives for free, forever, and never runs out. You are simply shilling for the addiction model of energy and the dealers that profit from it.

Bradley: No, oil, gas, and coal are not running out. Google ‘Resourceship” to understand why. Human ingenuity is not depleting, and neither is oil and gas and coal. Energy for the masses needs no ‘shill’. (Ad hominem yet again.)

Bryan: Oil and gas and coal ARE depleting. Not nearly soon enough to save us from people like you, it’s true, but they are being consumed vastly more rapidly than more is being formed, so they are ultimately unsustainable.

Fallacious arguments for profit seem to have no end, however, nor people who don’t understand Latin.

And once again, travel around the world and even parts of this country and tell me where those “masses” are getting their energy. Not from Big Fossil drug dealers, that’s for sure. Only the addicts with money to pay the exorbitant costs get their fix.

Bradley: No, oil, gas, and coal are expanding resources and have been since inception. Check the statistics.

Peak Oil and Peak Gas is a Malthusian fallacy, so is the ‘climate crisis.’ Same people, different issue. Yet climate related deaths are down 95% or more–and the planet is much greener than before.

Your analogies are sort of sick and ad hominem. Stick to the arguments–and please, help stop the grotesque wind turbines and solar arrays and battery buildings for a better environment.

Bryan: You are ill informed, even for a fossil troll. Coal, oil, and gas are, for practical purposes, fixed resources. No serious scientist even in the fossil industry disputes that. Is there NO limit to the lies you will tell for your paycheck?

What is truly sick is your willingness to say whatever it takes to keep the fossil $$$ flowing. Very sad. Fortunately, your kind is moving toward as final an extinction as the creatures whose dead bodies prop up your business.

Bradley: If oil, gas, or coal are fixed, then why haven’t we seen the ‘depletion signal’ after more than a century? And why are proved reserves and probable resources at all-time highs today?

Simon, Zimmermann, Bradley, etc. Do you homework with ‘resourceship’ and ‘the ultimate resource.’

The sickness is you accusing an intellectual opponent of being sick. I see fallacies in your thinking, but I don’t accuse you of being sick or ignorant or a shill for for renewables.

Be nice …. and respect consumers who choose the best energies every hour of every day. It’s government coercion that is the threat to sustainable energy for the masses.

And celebrate a greener, more productive world thanks, in part, to increasing CO2… Never been a better time to be a plant or a tree!

Bryan: We have seen it multiple times. When we change the recovery technology, or expand the definition of “petroleum,” as we recently did with “shale oil,” we reset the Peak curve. But depletion begins anew, and the absolute amount of hydrocarbon never changes. We may yet have a few tricks up our sleeve, but no matter how many, there isn’t any significant hydrocarbon CREATION. If you had even a tenuous grasp of science, you would know that.

Your arguments are tired, old, oft-debunked pages from the Denier’s Playbook. Goebbels would be proud.

Bradley: What is ‘fixed’ that can expand with new technology and greater capital for resourceship? Fixity is a fallacy that has existed and been contradicted since the beginning of the commercial oil industry in the 1860s.

The shale boom is very young and has new generations of technology ahead of it. There are an ocean of BTUs under our feet that are increasing in supply and open-ended.

The mineral energy era is still very young–and will outlive the current climate scare because of consumer demand for affordable, plentiful energy. A good thing, right?

We are currently in a carbon-based energy boom, which hour-by-hour makes mitigation more impossible. Meanwhile, the UK and EU are in an ‘energy crisis’ because of wind and solar and anti-consumer policies that can and should be reversed for a greener planet. You should support that rather than be angry and ad hominem.

Bryan: You are just cutting and pasting fossil / right-wing pseudo science that you do not understand. Do you get paid by the word?

Bradley: ‘Resourceship’ is a mainstream view. It is a business/economic term that explains why resources expand over time with the right incentives. Peak Oil and Peak Gas occur under price controls and climate policies, which is why we must avoid both, Energy poverty is a bad thing.

Again, Google ‘resourceship’ to understand the fallacy of fixity in terms of oil, natural gas, and coal.

Bryan: Google “Geology 101” to understand why fossil fuels ARE fixed resources, no matter how many made-up words are used by how many fossil propagandists.

Bradley: Okay, if fossil fuels are fixed, why aren’t they declining in a statistical, business, or economic sense?

Bryan: They are, you just are not equipped, obviously, to understand the math. “Proven reserves” can rise as well as fall, depending on the balance between consumption and new discoveries and technologies, but the total RESOURCE of unoxidized carbon and hydrogen on this Planet declines with every molecule we burn.

If you actually UNDERSTOOD Zimmerman’s theory of resourceship, you would realize that the only way to apply it to fossil fuels is with RENEWABLE energy. You can’t recover carbon and hydrogen with energy provided by burning carbon and hydrogen. If you were a scientist, you would realize how silly it is to suggest otherwise.

Bradley: Reserves are found and ready supplies–they go up and down depending on current drilling and consumption–and prices.

Probable resources and speculative resources expand and feed into proved over time. Probable and speculative grow dramatically with changes in technology and capital. Always have, always will.

‘Resources come from the mind, not the ground’ is what Zimmermann is saying. Human knowledge and ingenuity are not depleting but expanding–each new discovery opens the door for more. As we find more oil, gas, and coal, we discover ways to find more and more. This is history (under market incentives), not only business and economics.

Fixity is a fallacy. If it were true, we would have seen a ‘depletion signal’ by now, right? This is the real world–natural scientists like M. King Hubbert are refuted. (Know of him?)

Perhaps wind and solar are not renewable energies because usable surface area is finite and the infrastructure otherwise wears out–or the technology is too expensive to even compete as a ‘nonrenewable.’ Solar is not ‘renewable’ for many hours of the day, right? Wind too..

The real world: look at the data, understand history, comprehend energy economics, envision the energy business.

Bryan: You either can’t or don’t want to understand the difference between the resources Zimmerman was discussing and fossil fuels.

An element like Cobalt, for example, is different from Carbon and Hydrogen. The latter are ubiquitous, but once burned, their high oxidation state makes them useless for producing energy. Concentrated resources of Cobalt, by contrast, are rare, so even if we must input energy to recover it from a waste stream or recycled product, the net value may be as great or greater than freshly-mined Cobalt, and THAT is what Zimmerman was talking about. “Recovering” Carbon & Hydrogen makes little sense, and to the extent that it might, it could only be enabled by RENEWABLE energy.

You really ought not talk about things that you clearly do not understand. It only serves to confirm that your motivation is financial, not scientific.

Bradley: Do you have the right person? You are misspelling the name. Erich Zimmermann. Functional theory of resources. ‘Resources come from the mind, not the ground.” Resourceship.

Try this: https://www.masterresource.org/resourceship/liberating-resourceship/

Bryan: Yes, I’d rather miss one “n” in his name than misinterpret his entire work as you have done. Either your scientific background is too weak, or your paymasters are too insistent. Perhaps both. Zimmermann’s theory is really not that complex. If you still cannot understand how it does not apply to the fixedness of fossil fuels resources, I don’t know how else to help you.

Final Comment

The above discussion goes on, but this is its essence. We are ‘talking past each other’ because he is positing a ‘fixity’ for carbon-based energy that is a hypothetical, unknown quantity when, in fact, carbon-based energies are not unlike other goods and services in terms of human action (per Ludwig von Mises).

No one knows or has ever known the limit of real-world producible energy. Mr. Bryan is arguing in the social science, public policy world, which is where his physical limit does not apply and misleads. The graveyard of Peak Oil and Peak Gas and Peak Coal is filled with bodies of the resource pessimists who announced that we were on the depletion clock.

Finally, behind the energy problem–climate alarmism and forced energy transformation–is an emotional, angry mindset, “the cancel culture.” My opponent above is angry and mean. He spews hate speech without realizing it because he is not patient or open-minded enough to argue the issues straight up. To accuse me of being the equivalent of Joseph Goebbels for espousing a classical-liberal energy policy speaks for itself.

This aside, Mr. Bryan is stuck with a fossil fuel boom at the same time that climate policy is giving us price spikes, blackouts (“greenouts”), greenwashing and cronyism, industrial wind turbines, solar arrays, and battery plants. And budget deficits and monetary creation to cover them, creating, indirectly, “greenflation.”

That is his world. I like mine far better, not only economically but ecologically.


  1. Russell Seitz  

    Mr. Bradley should follow up with a Forbes column on the coming crisis of WSJ Op-Ed depletion as Peak Carbon Footprint draws near.

    The Biden Andministrations failure to institutionalize carbon footprint depletion allowances threatens to make Iceland, our former NATO ally, a rival in the former resource wars of the future



  2. John W. Garrett  

    Bryan is a closet totalitarian. His kind simply abhors liberty and freedom.

    “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
    -H. L. Mencken


  3. rbradley  

    Here is where the longer exchange ended:

    BRADLEY: But you [Paul Bryant] are defining fixity/depletion as an operative argument for the energy ‘sustainability’ debate. It is not. Again, this is not a debate over some unknown, hypothetical quantity that you cannot even define in a measurable sense but a business, economic, and policy argument.

    Just provide an estimate–any estimate–of the total geologic physical supply and we can trade thoughts. Can you? Can anyone? This would be a total of oil, gas, and coal in one BTU number, but correct me if there is another definition.

    How can you argue that the glass is half full or half empty if there is not a glass. Just provide a number of the ‘glass’.

    [So Bryan shifts the argument to Peak Demand or something like that]

    BRYAN: The QUANTITY is irrelevant to the reality that the resource is finite and not increasing at a meaningful rate. Where we are on the depletion clock is irrelevant at present, because the limit is not the amount of hydrocarbon available …”

    BRADLEY: So you can’t produce a ‘glass’, and you cannot say when ‘depletion’ starts in that glass. I rest my case that ‘running out’ of oil, natural gas, or coal is not an operative concept in the social world.


  4. rbradley  

    Paul Bryan has deleted our exchange on LinkedIn. If he was confident of analysis and proud of his spite toward me (and others), he surely would not have done this.

    The bully-at-the-beach slithers away when confronted by his own actions.


  5. Stephen Heins  


    “It like the climate change skeptics (not “deniers”) are playing by the Saint Andrews rules of golf; and, the climate alarmists are playing by the lawlessness of playground hockey.”
    Steve Heins


  6. Sherri Lange  

    I had missed this exchange. Mr Bradley, excellent comment /rebuttal on the polite side. Yours.

    But u cannot let bullies have the last word.

    Running out of fossil fuels is at this point moot. The basic building block. What do we think turbines and solar panels are built from??

    It is not a case of estimations of physical supply, unless you may be referring to copper or silver?

    Even that right NOW is hypothetical.

    Tks Rob.

    Good rebuttal.


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