It has been said that work builds character; that’s why the typical workplace has so many characters! We definitely had a real character on my team, at the company where my job just finished. He was a 69-year-old fellow from southern California, who had a way of dominating the conversation in every group, whether it was the software lab, weekly meeting, etc. Like me he was a contractor, and his assignment ended six months ago, but what a time we had while he was there! He told so many stories about himself that I could only believe half of them, like how he had been an engineer for as long as I was alive (and I’m no spring chicken, mind you). He also was very opinionated, and could go on for quite some time about things he didn’t like. However, I don’t think he believed in any kind of religious dogma, except for the “peak oil” theory; usually he would tie that in with assertions that the aviation industry will collapse when the oil runs out, and that at any rate, the world is going to Hell in a handbasket.
For last Thursday, April 19, my calendar had this quote:
“What’s going to happen is, very soon, we’re going to run out of petroleum, and everything depends on petroleum. And there go the school buses. There go the fire engines. The food trucks will come to a halt. This is the end of the world.”
Source: KURT VONNEGUT, JR., Rolling Stone, Aug. 24, 2006
That sounds exactly like my former co-worker talking about peak oil, and when I showed it to the other people I worked with, including my supervisor, they all agreed. Now I’m wondering if my former co-worker is a Kurt Vonnegut fan.
Regarding “peak oil,” ever since the first energy crisis of 1973 I have been told that the world can’t increase oil production forever, that a few decades from now there will be an abrupt decline in production as oil fields run dry, and that we’d better have an alternative energy source ready to take oil’s place when it happens. I was also told that oil is made from dead dinosaurs, and because we don’t have any more dinosaurs around, someday the oil will disappear, too. That is why Sinclair gas stations used a sauropod dinosaur for their logo, and why the “Universe of Energy” attraction at Disney’s EPCOT features a ride through a dinosaur-infested swamp.
Nearly forty years later, oil production hasn’t declined; I don’t think it has even peaked. True, the old fields may not be producing as much as they used to, but plenty of new fields have been opened up to take their place. In places like the North Sea. Off the coast of Brazil. Kazakhstan. Central Africa, from Chad to Cabinda. Israel. And even in the old fields new strikes have been made where the oil should have been pumped out already; where’s it coming from? It’s got me thinking that maybe the dinosaur=oil equation isn’t true after all; perhaps the oil is made in the earth’s mantle, using an inorganic process, and then it oozes into the crust later.
Now you can add another new oil source. I have just read that oil has been discovered near the Falkland Islands, and estimates of the supply run as high as a billion barrels. Whew! This year marks the thirty-year anniversary of the Falkland Islands War, and if anybody wanted to revive the dispute Great Britain and Argentina have over the those south Atlantic islands, that ought to do it. It also means the date when the oil runs out has been postponed a few more years. Click on the link below to read the story:
Brit Oil Strike
It looks like Dennis Miller has a better attitude than Kurt Vonnegut when it comes to what happens when fossil fuel runs out:
“Relax. We’ll replace oil when we need to. American ingenuity will kick in and the next great fortune will be made. It’s not pretty but it is historically accurate. We need to run out of oil first. That’s why I drive an SUV — so we run out of it more quickly. I consider myself to be at the vanguard of the environmental movement and I think individuals who insist on driving hybrids are just prolonging our dilemma and I think that’s just selfish…”