- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2008


I got a chuckle out of the headline “America is not post-anything” on Victor Davis Hanson’s Friday Commentary column. I agree with much of what Mr. Hanson says, but we most decidedly are beyond our peak oil production. Our oil production peaked in 1970 and has since fallen to the levels of the late 1940s.

In the late ‘40s, our population was half what is today, so our oil production per capita is half what it was then. Mr. Hanson says, “We sit atop trillions of dollars worth of untapped oil, gas, coal, shale and tar sands.” Yet clearly we already have drained the richest carbon resources America had. The remaining lower-grade oil shale and tar sands will require tremendous capital investments to bring to market and can be brought to market only in smaller flows compared to the easily pumped-out conventional oil that we no longer have. Chasing after ever poorer oil resources, following the lead of the Nazis to make oil from coal and risking climate disaster for a few more years of sprawl and gas guzzlers isn’t responsible stewardship or farsighted energy policy.

We need to embrace a 40-40-20 solution. Reduce our demand 40 percent by efficiency investments and 40 percent by behavior changes and meet the remaining 20 percent of our energy needs through renewable energy. We will need to continue to drill and mine in the short term because we are years from reaching this 40-40-20 solution. But bold talk of vast oil resources is misleading in that it leads us in the wrong direction.





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