The current dustup over the Keystone pipeline has conjured up one of my nagging questions. Call me crazy but I have always been skeptical of those who assert that we will run out of fossil fuels. This has always been a basis for advocating "alternative" or "renewable" energy as well as all the hand wringing on CO2 emissions. I guess the animals are not dying quick enough and decomposing rapidly enough to keep up with demand and even if they were we would die of pollution and global warming first. However, a couple of years ago I recall reading an article in Scientific America that indicated that my speculation was not entirely fanciful (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fossil-fuels-without-the-fossils). It is about a process know as abiogenic hydrocarbon genesis. Here ethane and heavy hydrocarbons are produced under pressure below the earth's crust. This may not be entirely fanciful since some scientists have argued that the new oil and gas discoveries well below the surface of the earth could not have originated from fossils due to the depth of the reservoirs. If this is true then the world will not run out of oil and gas regardless of the rate of demise in animals and plants. Such a discovery would speed up all the deep drill technologies and decrease the importation of oil world wide as more and more finds would occur throughout the world.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com