Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.
- Rosa Luxemburg, "Junius Pamphlet" 1916

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The illusory value of fossil fuels

"Why Fossil Fuel Abundance Is An Illusion,"
by Jonathan Koomey
Consulting Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

Even with estimates of the fossil fuel resource base at the low end of what the literature says, the amount of carbon embodied in just the conventional sources of these fuels is vastly larger than the amount of fuel assumed to be burned in...our “business-as-usual” future, assuming no major efforts to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels...
One implication of these results is that the current estimated value of fossil fuel reserves (as capitalized in the stock prices of fossil fuel companies) is an illusion, as Dave Roberts of Grist points out.  We quite literally can’t burn it all and continue the orderly development of human civilization, so the trillions of dollars of “value” in those reserves is a mirage (and a major impediment to progress on this problem, given how hard the fossil fuel industry is fighting to preserve its profits).

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