Gas prices have risen considerably, and it is clear that the supplies of oil are diminishing. It is well known that any oil field once it is tapped will at some point reach its peak production capacity, and after it reaches its peak, the production level will drop off, sometimes dramatically. While production level does drop off after a while, oil and gas investments are usually very profitable. If you look at the entire earth as an oil field, the question becomes, when is the earth at peak production, and when will the production level start to fall. It is believed we are quite far off from this point just yet. The concept is called “peak oil”, and I’ll let you research it on Google if you want to know more about it. It clearly has repercussions. I get some investment newsletters, and clearly the investment community knows about this issue. A lot of dollars as well as government policy is chasing this one. Some claim our Middle East policy is largely about this issue.
But rather than add to the clamor which has taken up plenty of conversation time at home, here’s something you might not have heard about. There’s plenty of energy. Maybe we’ll run out of petrol, maybe not, but there’s plenty of energy wealth. Here’s why.
Perhaps the best medicine for the Malthusian blues is to take a gander at the ideas of Paul Zane Pilzer. Pilzer is “a world-renowned economist, a multimillionaire software entrepreneur, an adjunct professor, and the author of seven best-selling books and dozens of scholarly publications.” He also served as economic advisor to two presidential administrations, and predicted the Savings and Loan crisis in the eighties.”
Pilzer has written books about this issue. In an interview by Anthony Robbins Mr. Pilzer explained that if you had an island where everyone fished for food, and one person invented a fishing net that made all the fishing jobs obsolete, what would you do? It might seem that you have a “net” loss of jobs and thus the island is poorer, but the reality is completely the opposite as the new invention has actually added productivity and value to the tribe. A good economic policy would not force a single fisherman to fish so that everyone else could eat. Instead, just let the newly unemployed do other things that now become possible because of the fishing net. The former fisher people can become teachers, artists, scientists, etc. Oil in the ground used to mean that the ground was not arable, and was thus worthless. Finding that oil could be used to make gasoline essentially created a new energy source unavailable before. There was a prediction that coal would run out in England during their Industrial Revolution, and that coal prices would skyrocket. Coal prices did increase short term, but long term, replacements were found. And the supply did not run out, they kept finding other sources.
Amory Lovins was featured in Discover magazine this past February. A physicist, economist, inventor, and co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, he makes clear that there is an issue, but rather than sink into despair, we should see what we can do about it. There are many options for renewable resources, and a healthy path to get there.
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Of course, this isn’t to say there won’t be bumps along the path, but the correct way of thinking is to know that the solutions are out there, and to get to it. There’s even a great pay off if you can help find new energy resources. And that’s not just the kind that makes the cars run. There’s plenty of energy wealth between your ears to solve other problems that can produce more value, whatever your gifts are.