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This chapter is from the book

The bottom line

  • Known petroleum sources will run out in less than 50 years (according to conventional analysis) or perhaps in 100 years or so (unconventional analysis).
  • Whatever the exact time when petroleum runs out, we have a choice: We can devote a large portion of our time, resources, and energy to seeking new oil and improving extraction efficiency, or we can seek sustainable and cleaner energy sources.
  • Petroleum is one of the three most polluting energy sources (the other two are nuclear power and coal). The potential for pollution will increase as conventional oil sources run out and the world turns to the unconventional sources: tar sands, oil shales, and deep ocean drilling.
  • In an ideal world, the search for new energy sources would move away from petroleum, but so much money can be made from obtaining and selling crude oil that oil development will likely continue in the short term despite increasing pollution and increasing knowledge of its health and environmental effects.
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