See, the world isn't running out of oil -- it's not even close. What the world is running out of is cheap oil.
The reason it's easy to panic about running out of oil is because we keep conflating "the oil we know about" with "all the oil that exists." Those who say that we're running out of oil are usually pointing to what's left of the oil that we're already extracting. And they're right -- the conventional oil that's in the ground amounts to about 1.3 trillion barrels, which sounds like a lot, but we use more than 30 billion barrels a year now. So quick math says that we'll run out within 40 years, and that's not even accounting for the fact that the number of cars on the road is exploding, as countries like China realize that bicycles are bullshit.
Rickshaw's are OK, because watching someone suffer for your convenience will always be fun.
But then there is the oil we haven't found yet, and more importantly, the "unconventional" sources. Oil shale -- basically, oil embedded in a certain kind of rock that is a huge pain in the ass to extract -- accounts for up to another 3 trillion barrels in the United States alone. There are trillions more in tar sands and other sources that we never extracted before because it was so much easier to drill it out of wells. But, as the price of oil goes up, it becomes profitable to go digging for oil in these increasingly inconvenient places, which is why production keeps booming, despite doomsday predictions.
There are four countries in particular that are experiencing current oil production booms that experts believe will catapult our production capacity to as much as 20 percent more than it is today by 2020. Brazil, the U.S., Canada, and Iraq are all places where previously inaccessible oil sources are now vomiting out the precious black dino-batter like never before. Processes like hydrofracking are so effective at freeing up previously unrecoverable oil that by 2020, it is predicted that the U.S. will be the largest producer of oil in the world.
Yay! Free oil and monster trucks for everybody!
Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Imagine this, but with hybrids underneath.
Well, not so fast. This oil is not only expensive, but also dirty. Getting the black gold from tar sands causes a whole host of environmental problems, and busting the oil out of shale takes a shitload of water, releases tons of toxic gases into the air, and uses huge amounts of energy. And this isn't even touching on the elephant in the room: global warming.
In fact, the big problem with fighting global warming is going to be the fact that there is so, so much oil left to burn, and that this oil will be both affordable and actually worse for the environment than the stuff that caused the problem in the first place. The truth is, there will likely be plenty of oil left right up until the moment when we force ourselves to stop drilling for it. After all, the discovery of a previously unknown cake in the back of the refrigerator doesn't mean that we should continue shoveling cake into our mouths. At some point, we've got to show some goddamn restraint.
Shit, we should have picked a less delicious metaphor.
For more things you're clueless about, check out 5 Ways People Are Trying to Save the World (That Don't Work) and 6 Ways Video Games Are Saving Mankind.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Products That Completely Defeat the Purpose of Camping.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why you should just go ahead and buy that Monster Truck.
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