by Rod D. Martin
October 13, 2013
Yes, I’m a prophet. And when I get things right, just like Limbaugh, I like to tell you about it.
One example is my 2006 op-ed “Oil Is Well: The Shortage Is A Myth, And Not A New One. I have been speaking and writing for a very long time against the lie that the world is running out of oil and gas, at least any time soon. The fact is, people (very likely on the payroll of the oil industry, though usually pretending to be environmentalists) have been claiming the world was running out of oil almost since Col. Drake sank that first well in Titusville back in 1859. And of course there’s a certain logic to that.
The problem? Every such prediction has preceded an oil boom. There’s a logic to that too: increased concern over supply results in higher prices, which increase exploration and innovation, which results in either more supply or more efficient extraction of existing supply or both.
And so it has been for a century and a half. The latest iteration — which began with the media’s late 2000s mantra that we’d hit “Peak Oil” — is the fracking boom, which just made the U.S. the world’s largest oil and gas producer for the first time in anyone’s memory.
Greens can complain, but they’re foolish in doing so. A natural gas boom makes electric cars like the Tesla Model S economically viable; and just switching a handful of coal plants to clean-burning natural gas has dropped U.S. carbon emissions far below their Kyoto targets. That wasn’t really possible before, and no eagle-killing windmill is ever really going to power your Prius.
But lots of cheap domestic energy wipes out the funding sources for all of America’s enemies, potentially wipes out America’s trade deficit, and could eventually return as much as $700 billion a year to the domestic economy. How’s that for insourcing? Meanwhile, even if cars go electric, the oil industry will be just fine. Oil is used to make virtually everything: as the Shah of Iran once said, it’s really too valuable to burn (which is also true of the corn that goes into stupid, environmentally awful ethanol, but I digress). And ever-increasing energy demand will ensure high enough prices to empower entrepreneurs to perfect long-lasting batteries, fuel cells, and serious renewables like solar and fourth-generation nuclear, not to mention (someday) fusion.
Anyway, I told you these things back when everyone said they were idiotic pipe dreams. Like that crazy idea that America could ever become the world’s top oil and gas producer. I’m a tech entrepreneur. And that’s what technology (and the science it’s built on) is about: understanding the world better to solve the problems of scarcity and want. Christians call this “pushing back the curse.” It’s also loving your neighbor as yourself.
UPDATE: From the Oct. 17, 2013 Wall Street Journal, “Daniel Yergin: Why OPEC No Longer Calls the Shots“