We're not running out of any of these resources.
Correct. We're just about to cross an inflection point beyond which the remaining resources will not be enough to sustain life for everyone, however. Actually, thanks to innate human competitiveness, we've already crossed that point.
I've read that at our current rate (and rate of increase I believe) that our oil supply will not last til 2100.
At our current rate of consumption and rate of increase (assuming no extraction constraints), URR's (ultimately recoverable reserves) will actually run out in the next few decades. But that won't happen; we'll never extract it all.
Coal I'm not sure about supplies but it is a non-renewable resource so eventually it will be gone.
There are estimated to be a total of 495 short tons of coal in place in the United States. If we were to use all that to immediately and completely replace oil, it wouldn't last long (a few years). But that's a moot point; in fact, it will never be economical to extract coal at significantly greater volumes than we do now; and it will never be an adequate substitute for oil.
Some companies are investing in alternative (renewable) energy sources (corn oil, hydrogen) which makes me optimistic... though we can't efficiently utilize it yet.
It was recently calculated that, per year, the world uses 400 times the energy available in the entire biomass present on planet earth--assuming that biomass were to be converted to ethanol. This is simple chemistry; the laws of nature dictate that we will not be able to replace oil with ethanol or biodiesel.
I remember during the energy crisis of the late 70's, we were suppose to run out of oil in 25 years.
That's a significant distortion of the reports from the 70's I have seen. People were expressing significant concern that early. But the earth had not been as fully explored as it is now.
Technology has allowed us to grab more energy than ever before and will continue to do so, it has only proven that fact every single year.
Only trivially correct. Ultimately recoverable reserves have grown thanks to technology, though no significant new technology has been developed since the 80's. But once a field enters decline, no existing technology changes that.
Coal is a huge asset of the midwest and eastern mountain states, and with the newer clean burning technology, we get more btu's per pound of coal than we ever have. Expect technology to keep advancing clean burning coal in the future.
True, but again only trivially so. The efficiencies that have been found will not significantly extend our supplies of coal if we turn to extracting them as a replacement for oil.
None of those will "soon" run out, and none of them are fundamentally essential to our continued economic progress anyway.
How do you figure?
Umm, if you had bothered to research any statistics at all before making this assertion, you would see that population growth reached a peak in the mid-70s and has been leveling off ever since.
The population has continued to grow since the 1970's. Do you mean that the rate of growth reached a peak then?
What are you talking about? The population growth from births in the United States is virtually zero. Why would we have to implement any draconian measures?
Because there are too many people and not enough energy to support them all.
Conservation is the first alternate "resource" that should be implemented. We can do it now, for cheap, and sometimes even for free, but most of us don't. Why is that? We don't feel the financial pinch required to force a lifestyle change on us, not yet.
Interesting connundrum, this. The fact is that most people in the world, and especially in the United States, make their living on the waste that our society generates. Once we are forced to conserve, lots of people will be out of jobs.
This is called demand destruction. How do you destroy demand for an inelastic resource? By collapsing the economy that consumes it. People who are starving and homeless don't drive SUV's, they don't buy strawberries from Chile, they don't fly on 747's to summer in Europe.
Brazil has an ideal situation for alternate fuel for vehicles. They are in a milder climate with lots of rain, and have more than enough green stuff to convert to ethanol. Their sugar cane crop waste products get used to make ethanol and they even use the stalks for fuel to power the process. They also make biodeisel from soy beans.
We don't have the best climate and the millions of extra acres of land, so it is a given that the more land we use for fuel, the less we will be able to use for food
1) We best hope that Brazil doesn't use those millions of extra acres for sugar cane production. Those millions of extra acres are the Amazon Rain Forrest, which currently produces some 38% of the world's oxygen. The soil is not really suitable for farming; right now what happens is they slash and burn, grow one season's worth of crops, and then leave it as a giant mudhole where nothing will grow. Very little life will survive with 38% less oxygen.
2) See my remarks above on bio fuels. Except on a very small, local scale, they're not viable, period.
Thermal Conversion, my favorite topic, takes any carbon based material and turns it into crude oil and natural gas.
I'm not aware that the pilot plant in Missouri produces natural gas. They do produce 400 barrels per day of something that resembles crude oil. However, once natural gas is no longer a viable fertilizer feedstock, it will be difficult to produce inputs for thermal depolymerization. Additionally, the plant cost 20 million to build so it's not a process that's attracting significant investment. At an assumed maximum of 500 barrels per day (CWT claims that they could get up to 800 barrels per day eventually, but they've been running a couple years and have continually to turn away offered feedstock), we would need to build 44,000 plants at the low low price of 880 billion dollars. If we're talking about world consumption, at current levels, we'd need to invest 3.4 trillion. Not impossible, but unlikely to happen. It's not clear that the inputs would be available at that level.
Actually the oil industry has choosen another direction. There are no large volume alternatives to oil on the horizon, but there is another very large source of crude oil. Oil Shales are getting new attention. The US has a trillion barrels of oil in shales and Canada has nearly 200 billion barrels of crude oil in oil shales according to wikipedia. At our current usage rate that adds 30 to 40 years of oil to a market that has around 30 years after the drilling crude oil industry peaks.
No one is looking seriously at developing the Utah Shale Oil deposits. The little blurb in the news about that was because Orin Hatch (who is normally smarter than this) made the statement that there was "another Saudi Arabia" there. Of course, it's his home state, so it may have been his way of directing money there.
Anyway, extraction of oil from the Shale Oil deposits is a process that uses more energy than it consumes. The Athabascan Oil Sands in Alberta will max out at 10 million barrels per day, which is less than 1/8th current consumption levels worldwide. Additionally, Oil Sands require natural gas to extract, so given the supply constraints that will be occurring in the next few years with NG, I doubt the oil sands will be in production long. They are, however, looking at other processes, but so far none of them look promising.
As shown with recent advances in oil shales research, each of these technologies will suddenly find ways to become less expensive just a few years before they are needed.
I'm afraid I disagree. That's completely not what reality is.
I know TCP research is claiming it will come down in cost over the next two decades significantly. I would bet coal to oil is also.
Thermal Depolymerization, Thermochemical Conversion, and related processes are not taken very seriously by anyone either. They're very simple processes, but they've got a very low production rate. Too low for anyone to be seriously interested. The stuff you find on the internet about them is mostly hype.
There is likely enough oil for the rest of my life (I'm 28 by the way)...
Certainly...not that you will (or anyone will) be using any of it very much longer.
...and more than enoungh time to switch to other technologies such as hydrogen over the long term. I would rather focus on switching to new technologies for their enviromental and long term benefits rather than worry about how soon we will run out of oil.
Too late. We will switch from oil back to food as the primary energy source, and there won't be nearly enough of that, it appears.