Oil: Dried Up?

Are We Running Out of Oil? Scientist Warns of Looming Crisis

Published: 24-Mar-2004

's the way David Goodstein begins his book. And that's the way he ends it.

Goodstein is not an environmental extremist, or a doomsayer, or a political hack trying to make points with his constituency. He is a professor of physics and vice provost of the California Institute of Technology, one of the nation's headiest institutions.

In his just-released book, Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil, published by W. W. Norton & Company, Goodstein argues forcefully that the worldwide production of oil will peak soon, possibly within this decade. That will be followed by declining availability of fossil fuels that could plunge the world into global conflicts as nations struggle to capture their piece of a shrinking pie.

We've all heard that before, only to be told by organizations like the U.S. Department of Energy that there's plenty of oil around, much of it still undiscovered, and there's no cause for panic. Some economists argue that as the supply declines, the price will rise, making it possible to develop energy sources that are not now available, such as the mineral rich oil sands of Canada, or the shale formations in the western United States.

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