In a recent interview for Rolling Stone, Kurt Vonnegut says he knows the end of the human race is near because as the oil runs out, food production and distribution will stop, and the world's people will starve. This "peak oil theory" is readily accepted by the Bush administration, and is the bedrock foundation principle of their military adventurism in the Middle East.
In the 1970s and 1980s, many active oil wells in the United States were capped, and the proposition was put forth that every last drop of domestic oil had been pumped, requiring us to becomes slaves to OPEC and a service economy. And as we grew up, we were taught oil is a "fossil fuel," a nonrenewable resource formed by decaying plant and animal matter ("biomarkers") overlaid by the deposition of earth and stone which, over the course of millions of years was turned to petroleum by heat and pressure. This biotic (or biogenic) hypothesis formed the basis of oil exploration and production in the United States in the twentieth century, was the undisputed knowledge on the subject and remains the hypothesis by which we approach this resource upon which our economy, worldview and military planning revolve. Furthermore, it is this framework which forms the reasoning behind our present military misadventure in the Middle East and is setting up a prelude for World War III and genocide (http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/september2006/010906worldwarthree.htm) as the United States plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.
There is a contradictory theory of the genesis of oil which, if true, means that not only is our whole approach to producing oil incorrect, but our reason for launching pre-emptive war in the Middle East is a hoax, a myth, a con, a lie cut from whole cloth. And, there is good reason to think this is so.
The abiotic (or abiogenic) hypothesis for petroleum genesis states the molecules needed to produce oil are present deep in the earth's mantle--that the oil and gas we've called fossil fuels not only aren't formed by decaying plant and animal matter, but can't be formed that way. This contradiction is hotly disputed, particularly by petroleum geologists who don't wish to give up what they've learned and learn something new.
The more you read about this, the more complicated it gets, with discussion of rocks, geochemical processes and isotopes. I'm not a petroleum geologist, chemist or licensed engineer. This issue matters, and it matters absolutely, because if abiotic genesis is the real truth and biotic genesis is not, our estimates about peak oil are incorrect, and oil may be far more prevelant than we in the United States have previously assumed. The proponents of abiotic genesis are unequivocal, and in this rebuttal to an article in the prestigious science journal Nature, authors Kenney, Kutcherov, Bendelianai and Alekseev sharply repudiate T. Clarke's article, "Fossil fuels without fossils" (Nature, 21 August 2002):
The second law of thermodynamics prohibits spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons heavier than methane in the regimes of temperature and pressure found in the near-surface crust of the Earth. This fact has been known by competent physicists, chemists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers and thermodynamicists since the third quarter of the 19th century.
Contrary to the misstatements by Clarke, there is no "debate" on this consequence of the laws of thermodynamics, nor on any other aspect of those laws. That natural petroleum is not a "fossil fuel" has been known (by competent scientists) since the time of Clausius, Boltzmann, Gibbs, and Mendeleev. The scientific problem connected with the genesis of hydrocarbons has been that genuine scientists have not heretofore been able to explain how, and under what conditions, such molecules do spontaneously evolve. Our article has resolved this question: petroleum hydrocarbons heavier than methane are the high-pressure members of the hydrogen-carbon system; their spontaneous genesis requires pressures comparable to those necessary for the spontaneous genesis of diamond.
The claim of one "McCaffrey," gratuitously repeated by Clarke, that "biological signatures have been a good predictive tool" for petroleum exploration, is nonsense, and stands in willful disregard of a century of bitter experience by petroleum explorers. The statistics of exploration success for western petroleum companies, drilling while following the traditional British/American biological-origin-of-petroleum (BOOP) notion, and in absence of seismic information (which permits visual identification of oil in the ground) is no better than one (1) successful commercial well out of approximately twenty-eight (28) dry holes, which statistical success rate is no better than random.
Pretty hefty stuff. The authors go further, giving the most pursuasive evidence of the abiotic versus biotic hypothesis:
This article has been written to place the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins into the mainstream of modern physics and chemistry; it has been published in the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in order to acquaint persons in the English-speaking world of this body of knowledge. Modern Russian petroleum science has transformed Russia from, in 1946, a petroleum poor nation to, presently, the largest petroleum producing and exporting nation in the world.
There it is, my friends. The United States uses a faulty, RACIST oil exploration policy to enslave its own citizens and provide justification to go to war in the Middle East, which can lead to global extermination, not just to ensure a secure supply of oil for us, but to ensure other countries don't get oil. The predominance of abiotic genesis is not controversial, or a matter of academic debate. Yet, some scientists and journalists still consider it responsible to dismiss this research. No more important discussion exists in the world today.
Are the Bush administration and PNAC's policy authors adequately informed on this issue so as to make energy and war continency plans? A thorough examination of their writing and observable activities strongly suggests the answer is a resounding NO. They're too busy with missile systems, producing more nuclear weapons and winning elections with smarmy lies. But, even if they were clear on this issue, they'd find another excuse.
And why all this talk about extreme and sudden population reduction? While it may be true the world's few richest individuals can't get richer while sharing resources with a large and growing population, the solution to their problem of overpowering avarice isn't necessarily destroying the world with nuclear weapons. Some journalists who toe the GOP party line, like Michael Ruppert, insist the situation is dire and in need of an immediate solution: We are hearing doomsday predictions of the demise of man. Human civilization as we know it is in its final hours. And we have, apparently, simply thrown up our hands in despair. Why bother looking for new sources of petroleum? Why bother double checking old sources of petroleum? Why bother giving any consideration to any alternative sources of energy? Why bother doing anything at all?