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Is There an Oil Shortage in our Future?

Every year the world uses four times as much oil as it finds. The major discoveries are in the past?the future depends on finding small deposits and finding new ways to exploit the old ones. When oil stocks get low, it takes almost as much energy to extract them from an oil well as the well produces. In the U.K., they've just found the biggest deposit in adecade?and it only contains enough oil to last the world 5 days.

George Monbiot writes in The Guardian that the world doesn't want to face up to the fact that oil is running out. The U.S. certainly doesn't?our Dept. of Energy says we'll be fine until 2037, but everyone agrees the figures they're using aren't accurate. Their statements are probably meant to keep the stock market calm, since the last five recessions all started with a rise in the price of oil.

Monbiot writes, "We seem, in other words, to be in trouble. Either we lay hands on every available source of fossil fuel, in which case we fry the planet and civilization collapses, or we run out, and civilization collapses."

Hydrogen fuel is being touted as the fuel of the future, but it?s a long way from practical. The main reason is that the tiny molecules of hydrogen leak out of containers?and they are very volatile. We're either going to have to redesign our world, so we have less need of automobiles, or redesign all our engines, so we can use an alternative fuel?probably both. These are major changes that cannot be made quickly.

Monbiot says, "In view of all this, the notion that the war with Iraq had nothing to do with oil is simply preposterous. The U.S. attacked Iraq (which appears to have had no weapons of mass destruction and was not threatening other nations), rather than North Korea (which is actively developing a nuclear weapons program and boasting of its intentions to blow everyone else to kingdom come) because Iraq had something it wanted. In one respect alone, Bush and Blair have been making plans for the day when oil production peaks, by seeking to secure the reserves of other nations.

"I refuse to believe that there is not a better means of averting disaster than this. I refuse to believe that human beings are collectively incapable of making rational decisions. But I am beginning to wonder what the basis of my belief might be."

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