If this is the case, would alternate fuels such as wind and hydrogen, which are available everywhere, mean an end to war? If we change to nuclear power when oil runs low, will wars break out in countries with large uranium deposits?
Paul Reynolds writes in bbcnews.com that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was partly caused by a U.S. decision in 1941 to limit oil exports to Japan, in response to the Japanese invasion of China. Japan was almost totally reliant on imported oil from the U.S. Japan still relies on imported oil but now it comes from the Middle East, like ours does.
Ever since oil was discovered in the Middle East in the 1930s, the West has been concerned about controlling that region. Oil partly caused the 1953 coup in Iran, which was organized by the U.S. and Britain. They installed a cooperative government that ended when Islamic fundamentalists took over in 1979.
The Gulf War in 1991 was obviously caused by oil, because felt we couldn?t let Saddam get hold of the oil fields in Kuwait. An intelligence report recently declassified by the U.K. reveals that as early as 1973, the U.S. had developed a plan to seize oilfields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi because they were worried about an Arab oil embargo against the West. Could this also be the reason we're now in Iraq?
New areas of conflict may be in our future. There is oil in the Caspian Sea, although there appears to be less of it than hoped and it?s going to be very expensive to get out of the ground. The country that will control this oil, if it ever becomes viable, is Azerbaijan. Its capital, Baku, was a German target in World War I because of the country?s oil, and was briefly occupied by the U.K. before it was annexed by the Soviets. During World War II, Hitler predicted that if Germany did not get oil from the Caucus Mountains it would lose the war.
If we turn to nuclear power after the oil runs out, the countries with uranium deposits will be the ones coveted by the powerful governments of the world. They are Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, Russia, Uzbekistan and China.
Will Smale writes in bbcnews.com that the price of crude oil recently reached its highest level in 13 years. How much oil is left in the world? About 40 to 100 years worth (although there may be more we don't know about). If oil use becomes greater, we'll run out faster. We're already using 75 million barrels a day, and this will probably rise to 120 million barrels daily by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.
Oil that's too expensive to pump out today may be worth removing in the future, if prices rise high enough and new pumping techniques are invented. Oil analyst Bruce Evers says, "Technology has improved so much over the last 10 to 15 years that companies can now get at oil reserves that previously would have been considered impossible."
Oil consultant Chris Hayes says, "If you go back 20 to 30 years, firms were only able to drill for oil in shallow waters. Today there are a growing number of deep-water projects. If you stand back and look at it totally objectively, it took millions of years to develop each drop of oil, which we now use in seconds, so it is 100% certain that oil will one day run out. However, we have potentially got another 100 years of oil production. Yet as it becomes more scarce, prices will no doubt go up, and there will inevitably have to be a gradual move to alternative power sources."
But every drop of oil we burn produces more greenhouse gases. A Greenpeace spokesman says, "If all the remaining reserves were burnt it would cause massive amounts of pollution. Instead we need to be phasing out fossil fuels and moving towards renewable alternatives."
Alex Kirby writes in bbcnews.com that even if we all start driving battery-powered cars, that won't eliminate the need for oil. Plastic is produced from oil, as well as some medicines. Communications devices depend on it. Oil is used in the factories that build environmentally friendly bicycles and hybrid cars. Some people think we should stop using oil for transportation right now?before it runs out?so we'll have enough for these other uses until we can invent alternatives.
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