I was reading an article on the CATO website today, and a particular paragraph caught my eye:

The “make a wish” aspect of the congressman’s bill is also truly amazing. America consumes about 20 million barrels of petroleum products every day (mbd). We produce about 5 mbd of crude and we import about 10 mbd a day of crude. Through the miracle of modern technology, our refineries produce about 17 mbd of products (refineries actually produce more output volume than they use as input), and we import another 3.5 mbd. Now, Thermo king believe that mandating flex-fuel automotive capability and providing fatter subsidies for hybrids will allow us to eliminate 13.5 mbd of crude and refined imports in nine years as well as allow for economic growth, then you’re probably the kind of person who is busily working with Nigerians on get-rich-quick schemes over the Internet.

Interesting, and I probably don’t have to say why (but you know I will anyway).

It occurs to me that most peak oil theory supporters assume two things in their arguments. One is that technology for obtaining and refining oil will never improve or get better at what it does, and two that it is possible to estimate how much oil there is in the world that has yet to be discovered.

I throw the second point in there because I heard it at a CATO luncheon I went to a month or two ago, and it makes perfect sense – it’s impossible to say exactly or with any degree of accuracy how much oil there is left to be discovered in the world because it’s yet to be discovered. It seems pretty obvious to most of us, but I actually had a peak oil theory supporter actually argue vehemently that it was absolutely possible to state with authority exactly how much undiscovered oil there was left in the world.

The first point, however, is also as fallacious and obviously wrong, as Moore’s Law and Kurzweil’s Law of Accellerating Returns proves to us. Technology begets technology. I think the fact that we’re able to take a barrell of oil and turn it into a barrell and a half of gas or oil byproduct is compelling support for that case (not to mention the inescapable fact that regardless of what you’d like to happen, technology marches on).


%d bloggers like this: