Kenneth S. Deffeyes: Join us as we watch the crisis unfolding.
The profits of major oil companies are piling up by the tens of billions of dollars per quarter. They are hoarding cash, buying back stock, and declaring dividends. They are not investing heavily in new facilities. If oil production has ceased growing and is about to decline, nobody needs new refineries, new pipelines, or new tanker ships. Most telling of all, the majors are not increasing their investment in exploration drilling. What I hear all around the oil patch is, "There are no good prospects out there." Of course, there is agitation to open areas for drilling that are currently closed. The implication of the plea is that additional drilling access will "solve" our oil problem. Every little bit helps, but it is incumbent on the companies to show that these are something more than a little bit.
What can we do? I have three categories: actions that we can take immediately, methods whose engineering is already done, and futuristic dreams.
Immediate: A 55 mph speed limit (they’ll hate me in Montana), teach the kids to turn out the lights when they leave a room, open the house windows for cooling or heating when the weather is not extreme.
Engineered: Nuclear power, high-efficiency diesel automobiles, wind turbines, coal gasification (with the carbon dioxide sold for enhancing oil recovery).
Dreams: Hydrogen fuel cells, alcohol from corn, solar cells. Don’t pin your hopes on a Manhattan Project or an Apollo program.
I see no reason to retract my Thanksgiving, 2005 prediction.