17,070 days to go (or less)

That’s how long we have before the oil spigot runs dry on our current reserves.

That’s 46 years… 2051.
I will be 73.

My child will be in the prime of her life… 47.

This is based on numbers in this factbook which compiled estimates from a number of different studies conducted by various groups and researchers back in 2000.

Here’s the good news… with new technology, we might find a few more oil fields.

Here’s the bad news…. those new oil field finds have already been factored in.

Here’s the worse news… our rate of consumption of oil is increasing every year. This year it is 64.44 million barrels per day

Conservative estimates give the rate of increase of consumption at 7% per year…. So, next year we’ll be at 68.9 million barrels… and have shaved 3 years off our oil lifetime….

Now here comes the really mind blowing part. If no new oil fields, that is oil fields not accounted for in these studies, come online… the yearly consumption increase, and subsequent shaving down of oil lifetime will converge… in 12 years.


Think about that. All of the oil discovered and projected to be discovered in the world up until 2000 will be gone in 2017.

To put it in perspective.. that’s only 2 US Presidential terms from 2008. That’s the difference between Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Any bets on the major topic of the 2016 Presidential Elections?

2 replies on “17,070 days to go (or less)”

  1. Chris … I can’t find any trackback capabilities here, so I just wanted to let you know that you got linked.

    While history has shown us that the actual numbers/dates are as uncertain (if not more so) as you claim, we would be fools not to be looking ahead … and many in the private sector are already doing so, in small ways.

    However, HOW we get there from here is significant … and I can already hear the demands for our governments to “do something”. I’m heartened that you restrained yourself from making such a demand, for I don’t think that an Apollo-style effort by governments to perform the energy-system-engineering equivalent of putting a man on the moon will necessarily work in this case.

    People always have to keep in mind that this is not the same kind of problem … Apollo involved a relatively small set of objectives, with only about a dozen sets of hardware to make work (and most of that, for just a few minutes). It may have seemed a “hard thing” to JFK, but it was a problem that could be successfully surrounded and solved by a relatively small subset of humanity.

    The engineers who developed the Saturn/Apollo systems (my stepfather-in-law was one of them) were empowered to use techniques and technologies that required so much customization and hand-holding to work, that they would be impractical to implement in hundreds of millions of hardware sets that ordinary people could feasibly access (technologically and/or economically).

    My own 22 years as an engineer has taught me a basic truth … it’s a lot easier to get one complex thing to work, than it is to make sure a million simple things work every time.

    I believe we are going to have to use a distributed approach for resolving our energy future … a mix of technologies, developed in an environment as free of politics and ideologies as we can make it, yet is compelled to attaiin a profound respect for the interaction of humans with these technologies.

    In other words, we’re going to have to go to the messy private sector on this one … at least we had better do so, if we want something that will work for you, and something (possibly different) that will work for me.

    Otherwise, we won’t be able to debate over at SMASH’s … since both Wintels and Macs run on electricity. Now if they could run on hot air, both of us would have no problems at all …

    I plan to write more on this later, over at The Alleged Mental Case … this is a subject where I have some expert credibility, mostly due to hard-knocks experience with making this kind of stuff work.

    See ya at SMASH’s …

  2. Thanks Rich.. there is actually a tracback link … but it’s in a hard to find place (if you click on a Comment link from the front page, it’s hidden under the header). Making it more accessible is on my to-do-list for this blog.

    I agree that this problem won’t be solved by one Apollo-like effort. I think it’s far more wide-ranging than that and it will take governments working at all levels and citizens changing their way of thinking in order to get it done.

    This is a long term problem… but with many bumps along the way. I don’t think the transition will be particularly pretty, and certainly not easy.

    Thanks for your comments… look forward to your writings later.

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