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Name: Beth A Barry
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How can you determine how long it will be before our oil supply is gone?

Suppose you are pouring Pepsi (or Coke, if you prefer) out of a bottle. What would you have to know in order to determine how long it would take to empty the bottle? First, you would have to know how much is in the bottle, and second, you would have to know how fast it is pouring out. It is easy to find out how much a bottle holds, because its volume is usually printed on the label. It is much harder to find out how much oil the world holds, because there is no label. Geologists know where some of the oil is, and at those places they can estimate how much is still in the ground. They also know of some other places where oil is likely to be, but some of those sources have not been tapped yet because it costs too much to get there - off-shore oil wells are very expensive to build, for example. So there is some uncertainty about how much oil is "in the bottle" so to speak.

We have a pretty good way of measuring how quickly oil is being used, but it is hard to predict if oil use will speed up or slow down in the future. Predictions about oil consumption that were made twenty years ago were sometimes wildly inaccurate because they did not know people would adopt energy-conserving habits like home energy efficiency and automobile fuel economy. Since most of the world is just beginning to adopt energy-intensive life-styles, it is anybody's guess how quickly the demand for oil will rise over the next few decades.


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