Scientists Debate Decline of Oil Stores: Sooner or Later?

The finiteness of recoverable oil and gas reserves is a fact. ... There doesn't have to be a third world war for oil, but there could be...

Published: 15-Dec-2004

Scientists meeting at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco debated Tuesday whether the world has plenty of oil for centuries to come -- or if it faces impending shortages that might trigger economic chaos, even war, in coming decades.

On the one hand, optimists are confident that vast untapped oil reserves and continual improvement in drilling methods will assure plenty of cheap, abundant oil for Earth through this century and perhaps the next.

On the other hand, some experts fear a global-scale repeat of scientists' past failure, in the 1950s, to heed a warning from the Cassandra of petroleum geology: M. King Hubbert, who prophesied the oil shocks of the 1970s.

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