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Jan 07, 2008


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I agree with your general argument here. When I was at University the Club of Rome was all the rage, but it proved to be wrong. In my view there are enormous resources in the earth, much that we do not even know about.

However, I do worry about oil in the short term. Oil production seems to have stopped increasing. At the same time there is a massive growth in demand for oil from China and India, and other countries that are developing quickly. There is the possibility that the Chinese government may not be able to hold things together and demand will fall.

On the supply side, significant oil resources are in the most politically unstable parts of the world. In the long term, whoever controls these areas will need the money so they will have to put their oil onto the market. However, in the short term there may be significant dislocations.

I realize that new technologies will emerge to extract more oil from existing supplies and to produce alternative fuels. However, we cannot assume that the new technologies will arrive in time. Their may be a lag before they are available. The development of technologies is not always smooth with the next one turning up, just when it is needed.

I also understand that the price mechanism will sort out the issue: that as the price rises, demand will decline. The problem for the West we have developed a lifestyle, society and culture based on the automobile and cheap fuel. If prices rise dramatically, that lifestyle may become unviable for a time until new technologies emerge.

Christians should be thinking about this risk. How serious is it? What mitigations can we put in place? We should not bury our heads in the sand, but should be aware of the direction that the wind is blowing.

Christians have made a big commitment to the suburban lifestyle based on the automobile and cheap fuel. Much of our church life depends on automobile travel. We should be thinking about the risk for our church life and whether mitigations are necessary.

Assuming that wealth will always be with us could be dangerous.

Michael W. Kruse

I share many of your concerns. I'm really trying to differentiate concern for the supply of oil embedded in the earth from the wisdom of accessing and using oil. Contrary to the neo-Malthusians, our motivation for alternative fuels is not the imminent exhaustion of supplies. Geo-political concerns may give us considerable pause about an intensive fossil fuel future but our challenge is not exhaustion of supply.

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