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Peak Oil, Finite Resources, Infinite Growth, Mathematics and Logic

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posted on May, 5 2012 @ 11:12 AM
I initially wrote this up with the intention of posting it in this excellent thread, but it deserves a thread of it's own in my opinion. Many people wont like this subject, because it collides with their love affair with the infinite growth paradigm. These people seem to completely dismiss the simple logic and mathematics which can be used to show how infinite growth completely clashes with the concept of finite resources. If you haven't seen the following video, then I highly suggest you take the time to watch it and soak up the information presented:

If you don't have the time to watch the video then let me sum it up in a few sentences. The good professor explains the concept of exponential growth using nothing but simple arithmetic. This simple math shows us how and why it's impossible for growth to happen infinitely, especially when that growth is exponential. Most importantly, he explains these concepts in terms of population growth and the consumption of finite resources such as oil. What his calculations ultimately show, is that peak oil was expected to occur anywhere between 2004 and 2030, as the following graph shows:

This estimation and most others rely on knowing how much oil we have left, but it's important to note this graph was created around the year 2000. Back then, if we had 2 trillion barrels left, then we were expected to hit the peak around 2004. However, if we had 4 trillion barrels left, the peak was expected to occur around 2030. My research indicates the peak is more likely to occur around 2040. Since I was bored and had nothing better to do, I thought it would be interesting to do some similar calculations using modern data. Please note, that instead of using oil production data I'll be using oil consumption data.

There are 3 main pieces of data which are crucial to these estimations:

1) Estimated world oil reserves
2) Rate of oil consumption
3) Increase in consumption rate

Ok, lets start with the second point and see what we can dig up. The IndexMundi website provides a list of world wide oil consumption data[1] from the year 1980 up to 2010. According to this data, in 2010 we were consuming a whopping 86,952,470 barrels per day. Lets also take a glance at the NationMaster website, which has a list of oil consumption quantities for each specific nation[2], with 99% of the data being from 2009. This data tells us that around 2009 the world was consuming a total of 82,769,370.4 barrels per day - which jives with the IndexMundi data, which lists 84,574,450 for 2009.

(scroll the image to the right)

The CIA also has a list of countries and their corresponding oil consumption data[3] for the year 2010. While they don't provide a total, I have taken the time to add up the numbers and it comes out as 99,163,752 barrels per day. That is considerably higher than the number supplied by IndexMundi for 2010, which was 86,952,470. I used an algorithm to calculate the total so I have no idea why there is a discrepancy of 12 million. But to be fair, I will use the more conservative numbers where ever possible, the end result and conclusion of my estimation will most likely be severely optimistic.

Now, as for the increase/growth rate of oil consumption world wide, all one needs to do is once again look at the consumption table provided by IndexMundi. Conveniently enough, not only to they provide the consumption quantities, but they also include the percentage of change between each year. All I need to do is add up the change between each year and then get the average. The results indicate that between 1980 and 2010, we consumed approx 1.269% more oil every year. This can be considered the general amount of expected growth for each year and will allow me to estimate how fast that sweet crude will be consumed.

President Obama has said the U.S. possesses just 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, or about 22.3 billion barrels, writes Investor's Business Daily's John Merline. However, this figure represents just proven reserves. But one analyst believes he could be off by almost a trillion. According to the Institute for Energy Research's calculations, the U.S. actually sits on 1.442 trillion barrels of recoverable deposits.

The US Is Sitting On A 200-Year Supply Of Oil

Now we are getting into the most interesting part of this research: trying to figure out how much oil the world has left. And of course, we are looking at this issue with a world wide perspective, but in doing so, we will show how this above article is absolutely ludicrous in its claims. There are several places where one can get data concerning the amount of oil reserves left in the world. I have chosen 4 different reputable sources for that data, and those sources are Wikipedia[4], the CIA fact book[5], NationMaster[6], and BP[7]. The data derived from these sources is as follows:
edit on 5-5-2012 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 11:12 AM
1,324,000,000,000 barrels - Wikipedia
1,473,878,490,000 barrels - CIA
1,349,417,153,000 barrels - NationMaster
1,383,000,000,000 barrels - BP

As we can see, most of the recent data indicates we have about 1.3 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves. But as mentioned in the article from BusinessInsider, proven does not account for all the reserves possibly undiscovered. According to Wikipedia[4], proven reserves are "those reserves claimed to have a reasonable certainty (normally at least 90% confidence) of being recoverable under existing economic and political conditions, with existing technology". However, it still obvious that the U.S. does not have potential reserves equal to the entire worlds proven reserves, that claim is simply bogus.

Moving on, in order to account for the difference between proven reserves and potential undiscovered reserves, lets simply take the highest number from our list above, which is 1.473 trillion provided by the CIA, and then double that number, which is extremely optimistic if you ask me. That basically comes out as 3 trillion barrels left to be recovered from the Earth. So now I have the three ballpark figures which will allow me to make some interesting estimations. These latest oil reserve estimations were made in 2011, so that will be my starting point, from there I can use simple compound/exponential math.

So if I use the 2010 consumption figure from IndexMundi (86,952,470 barrels per day), and I use the consumption growth rate figure of about 1.269% per annum, I can estimate with considerable accuracy how much oil was consumed in 2011 (which is almost 90 million barrels), and how much will be consumed this year. To make this easier to understand, I will simply present a graph which shows us quite clearly how long 3 trillion barrels would last the world if our oil consumption continues to grow at this rate. It is designed to simply demonstrate the insanity of perpetual growth while using a finite resource to power that growth.

(scroll the image to the right)

This graph tells us that 2078 is the end of all oil, should we maintain a constant amount of growth. In actuality, my estimations found that it could occur anywhere between 2070 and 2080. However, you may be thinking, that graph is stupid because we couldn't have such a high amount of consumption and then suddenly run dead dry. No, of course that wouldn't happen, but that's not the point is it. The point is, this math shows us how quickly the oil COULD be used up should we insist on consistent infinite growth. In reality, the graph should show a peak and then a downhill climb (note dashed line).

In my opinion the peak will appear some where around 2045 as shown in the graph above. If we are to extrapolate even further along down the dashed line we find that 2111 could mark the very end of oil. For those of you who are naively believing that the worlds oil reserves will last us "several hundred years", you are dead wrong according to all the math. Your children, and perhaps even you, will experience a world where oil is running dry. And all this is assuming we really have at least 3 trillion barrels of oil left to suck from the Earth, which in all probability we most likely don't.


1] World Crude Oil Consumption by Year
2] Consumption > Oil statistics - Countries Compared
3] Country Comparison :: Oil - consumption
4] Oil Reserves - Wikipedia
5] Country Comparison :: Oil - proved reserves
6] Oil reserves statistics - countries compared
7] Oil reserves | Review by energy type | Statistical Review 2011
edit on 5-5-2012 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 12:13 PM
Oil will always be one of the hardest things to calculate because of the veil surrounding the actual known reserves, or possible exploration points. Countries, companies and individuals are all hiding or exaggerating on the amount available for reasons that suit only themselves. Sometimes it's good to have a lot, sometimes it's good to be running out, and they manipulate data to express their needs.

In any case, there cannot be continuous bell curve with something like oil. Eventually nations are going to be cut off by a number of means, and then you have all the consequences that goes with it.

Recessions? Depressions? When people don't have cheap energy, cheap building materials, cheap everything... It's much harder to make money.

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 12:26 PM
reply to post by boncho

In any case, there cannot be continuous bell curve with something like oil. Eventually nations are going to be cut off by a number of means, and then you have all the consequences that goes with it.

Of course there is never a perfect bell curve, everything has random components built into them, but there are predictable mathematical features. I'm simply trying to examine how much oil the world has left and how long it's likely to last us by using some simple estimation techniques. I don't expect my data on the reserve quantities to be astonishingly accurate, but they do provide enough data to work with. I doubled the total proven reserves and used all the most conservative figures, yet my estimations tell me in roughly 30 years the peak is likely to occur and in roughly 100 years there will be hardly a drop of oil left on the planet.
edit on 5-5-2012 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 12:29 PM
reply to post by ChaoticOrder

Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing your numbers at all. I am criticizing the fact that no one really knows, and the people who hold the best information to actually process the data are known for being shifty.

I S&F'd this because I believe you are on the right track.

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 12:40 PM
Of course this applies to everything else- water, food, metals, land, etc. People are absolutely idiotic in their belief that we can have infinite growth. We already have many countries and states arguing over water, and our rising food prices lead to all the revolutions in the middle east. It will only get worse as we continue to breed like roaches.

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 12:44 PM
reply to post by CB328

The worst thing I can think of is the pollution. The Western Nations have exported almost all their chemical processing and high waste manufacturing in the last 20 years which is making some developing nations look like something out of an apocalypse movie.

Some daily products made will produce 5 to 10 tons of hazardous waste for every ton of usable product. With numbers like that, it's no wondering all the "good manufacturing jobs" have gone overseas.

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 12:48 PM
reply to post by boncho

I am criticizing the fact that no one really knows, and the people who hold the best information to actually process the data are known for being shifty.

Yes, but what I'm saying is, the discrepancies in the data are not enough to make the calculations impossible. Simply do what I did and allow a huge margin of error (I added a 100% positive margin of error by doubling the number of reserves), use the most optimistic figures, etc. I was also trying to point out that whether we have 1 trillion or 3 trillion it's not very relevant because if the double time on the compounding growth is only a few years, you require double the amount of resources in the same amount of years the next period. It's the nature of compound growth to creep up on you when you least expect it. It's not until the "last minute" (see video) that you notice a problem.
edit on 5-5-2012 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 01:04 PM
reply to post by CB328

Of course this applies to everything else- water, food, metals, land, etc.

Not really. Oil is a specific vital resource that is not being replenished and is burned down for energy. Most other resources are either replenished (food, water) or can be recycled (water, metals, land).

posted on May, 5 2012 @ 02:29 PM
World oil production of light sweet crude, which has been the primary product for the last century, peaked in 2008. They don't even give out the numbers on current light sweet crude production since the peak in 2008. Everything coming out of the Middle East is the low grade stuff that you get from a well once all the good stuff is gone. The heavy sour grades don't produce as much gas, have a lot more sand and other stuff in them.

Tar sands have been known for a long time, but until recently, weren't worth processing, which should tell you what the real situation is. Every major oil discovery ever made is either no longer producing, or in decline. There are massive reserves of shell oil, but it is extremely costly to recover. Other reserves are deep under water in areas too deep to recover at a reasonable cost.

The numerous small reserves in Montana are being used up quickly, and were also not economically feasible to tap in the past, because of the size and amount of oil gotten out of each well drilled.

Large numbers of oil refineries only capable of processing light sweet crude are going bankrupt because there isn't enough of the light sweet crude to refine.

Right now, the oil industry is tapping long known sources to keep up with the drop in production of the major reserves, but this is a temporary solution.

Within this decade we will see a continued drop in oil production until the problem reaches a crisis point. Vast categories of capital assets will then become worthless. We will have to completely change our nations infrastructure.

Sadly, we are completely unprepared, as the PTB don't want to face the reality, because their ignorance will also be their demise. It is most likely that the end of big oil will also be the end of corporatocracy, as it will no longer be economically feasible to produce goods on one side of the planet using slave labor, and ship those goods to the other side of the planet.

Hard times are about to come, but in the long run, it will be better for the human race.

edit on 5-5-2012 by poet1b because: typo

posted on May, 6 2012 @ 01:20 AM
reply to post by poet1b

You make some good points. Production has probably peaked, but that doesn't mean consumption has peaked yet. The peak will probably happen earlier than 2045 though, my estimation is highly optimistic.

posted on May, 20 2012 @ 01:45 PM

Most other resources are either replenished (food, water) or can be recycled (water, metals, land).

With our unsustainable population still growing like crazy you are not going to be able to replenish things like wood and fresh water fast enough. With the land taken up more and more by development, where are you going to grow all that food?

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 03:48 AM
reply to post by ChaoticOrder

Your estimations only include liquid crude. Why?

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 03:55 AM

posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 02:11 AM
A few flaws in the whole peak oil thing, one is Valcent Technologies can
grow oil in the desert at the rate of 100,000 gallons per acres per year.

You just need agri-waste, and or bio-waste, and a bit of water.

This can be automated and get it under $1 a gallon.

Coskata can turn any kind of cellulose into Ethanol for about $1 a gallon
from waste such as leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, etc etc...

Dr. Melis in California also found out you can do biological production of hydrogen,
and then that is an ever cleaner fuel than the current batch.

These alternative go largely ignored in part because then we do not need
to be in the middle east at all or have 700+ bases in 100+ nations.

As for the finite resources there is the Asteroid belt, the rings around
Saturn, Jupiter, and Neptune.

Solar powered robots like the mars rover but better could do it, and the
material can be shot back via mass driver like NASA planned for the moon.

edit on 20-7-2012 by Ex_MislTech because: content

posted on Aug, 31 2014 @ 10:26 AM
With regard to resources, personally I think that until we get off this planet, we will have to deal with the cards that have been dealt us, and I'm with you CB328 with regard to Human Societies pursuit of infinite growth in a closed system (Earth), and the problems that's going to bring us, not just Peak Oil, but as mentioned water, food, metals, land, etc. I've tried to put this into a network diagram (PDF file), that leads to some interesting, all be it apocalyptic geopolitical conclusions :

Will society change any of the paths outlined in the above diagram? Lets hope so...

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