Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Sooner or later it’ll all be gone

In the last 10 years or so, there has been a big push to save small increments of our resources — legislating low-flow faucets, banning plastic bags, promoting energy star appliances, mandating light bulbs containing mercury and purchasing Priuses. However, oil, natural gas, coal, copper, lithium, lead, zinc, chromium and even uranium are rare, non-renewable resources; once they are used up, they are gone.

It makes no difference on a global scale and to the people who will live in the future whether non-renewable resources are used up in one century, one-and-a-half centuries or two — in the end they will be gone. And the amount of pollution released will have been the same.

The real problem is the present system of extraction, consumption and endless growth itself; and it will end sooner or later, either by intention of when the resources finally run out. Attempts merely to slow the rates of plunder of the Earth will not change the final outcome. And, in the meantime, panicky, eco-fascistic governmental dictates will only serve to destroy democracy as well.

Richard Barry
Davis

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Greg JohnsonAugust 30, 2013 - 9:15 am

    And, eventually the sun will burn out too!!

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  • Rich RifkinAugust 30, 2013 - 1:34 pm

    "Whether non-renewable resources are used up in one century, one-and-a-half centuries or two, in the end they will be gone." ...... This is incorrect. Instead, as the supply of so-called non-renewables declines, the prices for them will rise and rise and rise. That will have two effects: first, it will make substitutes (whether they are renewable or not) more attractive, so much so that consumers will switch products. For example, if the day comes that the supply of oil cannot keep up with demand, the (real, inflation adjusted) price of oil will rise and consumers of oil will switch to cheaper substitutes (gas, coal, hydrogen, biofuels, solar, wind, etc); and second, the higher price and lower demand will prevent whatever the non-renewable resource is from ever running out. ...... A related point to consider is that higher prices (driven by higher demand) ALWAYS encourage greater exploration. And so what geologists one day say is "peak supply" very often turns out to be greatly underestimated. It always seems to turn out that there is more supply available than was previously thought. Yet, in theory at least, some commodities will eventually be used up to such an extent that the supply can no longer be increased. And it is when that happens that the scenario I explain above happens: vastly higher prices for the under-supplied product; and substitution to alternatives.

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  • Rich RifkinAugust 30, 2013 - 1:41 pm

    Another secondary point to keep in mind is that demand over time, even in a growing economy, can itself decline for a variety of reasons. With oil, for example, it is not inconceivable that the demand is about to drop off substantially due to new, highly efficient engines and substitution away to CNG for most large vehicles. So as supply continues to grow--the so-called known reserves are much higher today than they were 20 years ago and they are growing as a result of new technologies--it seems likely that the real price of oil will fall in the next 10-15 years as demand shrinks.

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  • ml1999August 30, 2013 - 2:08 pm

    Natural Gas production in the US has exploded, bringing lower prices, 20% less CO2, and plentiful, high-paying jobs in Texas and North Dakota. Thank you, Free Market!

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  • Rich RifkinAugust 30, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    The high-paying natural gas job growth has been strong in Texas and N.D., but also in quite a few other states, as well. This is a map of where it is believed there is now a reason to think we have a lot more gas: http://www.oiljobfinder.com/files/img/us-shale-gas-map-big.jpg .... Not shown, there is also a lot of natural gas to be extracted from Alaska. especially in Prudhoe Bay.

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