Are we screwed when the earth's oil reserves run out?

Or by then, will we all be driving electric cars and cars that run on ethanol?

Answer:
We will NEVER completely run out of oil, its just a function of economics. Assuming a constant rate of consumption and no greenhouse gases or some factor that affects the demand, the price of oil will have to increase as the supply diminishes. That's basic economics - supply and demand determine the price. As the price goes up, oil companies will be able to recover oil from deeper reserves, smaller reserves, remote locations, and low quality oil shales etc. Not only that, oil companies will be motivated to look for new oil fields and reserves as the price goes up - and we will be more motivated to drive less, use more fuel-efficient vehicles, and use alternative energy sources.

At some point the price of oil could get so high that there will no longer be any economically recoverable oil. But its more likely that the price of oil gets so high that nobody will buy it anymore, so we go back to the supply and demand fundamentals, and the price goes down.

Now the second part of your question mentions ethanol. The problem with growing grain such as corn to produce ethanol is that it requires a lot of oil to grow, process, and transport. It takes something like 3 liters of oil to produce 4 liters of ethanol - not exactly a good return on your investment. Not to mention all the prime agricultural land that will no longer be producing corn for food, and that means we will have to replace that land with new land which is currently wilderness and forest.

There's no question we need to start making better use of our existing oil reserves and looking at alternative energy sources like wind and nuclear, but we will not run out of oil. Personally, I think hydrogen is a much better solution for powering our cars than ethanol, as long as we use nuclear generated electricity for the electrolysis to recover hydrogen from water.
by then, it's most likely that most cars will be running on an alternitive source.
If we haven't found an alernative fuel source, yes.
It won't happen fast. Oil will just get very expensive, probably over a period of ten years or so..

Will we be screwed? Not in the sense that the world will end. But if we don't start to develop and use alternative energy now, the economic dislocations will be substantial, with massive unemployment and many people on welfare. Of course the economic problems of global warming will also be going on. All in all there will be a worldwide Depression that will make the 1930s look like good times.

The joker is that it may start a nuclear war between the West and China.

Good book about it and what we can do to avoid that disaster:

http://www.amazon.com/end-oil-edge-peril...
By then we will have either found a good alternative, or be living like we did back in the 1700-1800's. There will be a lot less people because many will have starved or been killed for food. The good thing is there will be very little pollution and global warming will not be a big problem then. Lots more room at the beach. We also will not have to watch CNN. It will be great.
No - as oil reserves start to dwindle the prices will go way up, and more and more people will switch to alternative fuels. There will be more hybrids to slow gasoline consumption, and electric cars will become more and more prevalent.

http://www.teslamotors.com/index.php...
http://zapworld.com/zapworld.aspx?id=188...
http://zapworld.com/zapworld.aspx?id=456...

There will likely also be more cars running on biofuels like biodiesel. It will be a painful process, but we won't be screwed.
naww, we will not be screwed, we will be riding bikes!
You need to look up some Peak Oil sites. You'll get more information than is good for you.

I think for the U.S., and most European and developed countries the end of oil will be gradual, and we'll be able to pretty much pick up where we are.

When supply gets competitive enough that we have to start rationing we'll go to alternatives, including biking and walking and such.

The real crunch will be trucking, railroads, airlines, farmers and the like.

If I didn't have gas tomorrow, I could get to work. If a farmer doesn't have tractor gas, or able to afford it, he's out of luck, and then we're going to have to pay a lot more for food and such.

We don't have much electricity provided by oil, but we do have some heating. We're going to see some crunch there as well, and that will convert the problem to a shortage of electricity.

Food will cost more, ethanol probably won't be the ultimate answer, but it will be a part, and ethanol = food.

In developing countries they're going to be shut out for oil. They won't be able to pay the price, so they won't receive any. They'll get less aid, because countries around the world will be going through recession and with food being converted to fuel they're going to lose, because people in developed countries can afford to pay.

Even in countries that can produce their own food we'll see them selling it to other countries for Ethanol, even though their own people are starving. It's all about the money.

I don't think we're screwed, but I do think there's a lot of people who are.
There are oil reserves to last a few hundred years. I'm guessing by then, there will be a lot of options available for energy..
We'd be *much* better off if earth's oil reserves ran out today. Then the Earth would be spared most of the pain of global warming.

With today's technology, the only real option for preserving our civilization would be breeder reactors. They would primarily be used to hydrolyze water to produce hydrogen, which would then become the primary fuel.
not only do you have to think about transport ramifications but also the other products derived from petroleum--plastics and synthetic fibers being two of the biggies. right now there's a lot of research going on to develop new biomaterials that we can use to replace the synthetic materials that are so ubiquitous in our world.
No. not in my opinion.

I have talked personally with people in the local oil field, and in this one field we have drilled and proven oil for us for 300 years. And more is being found daily, drilled, proven in, AND CAPPED OFF TO DRIVE PRICES EVER UPWARD!

IF we did not worship them, we could demand the Saudis pump the natural gas back into the ground to prolong their fields, rather than flaring it all off to make HUGE amounts of CO2 and H2O. Remember, the terrible Global Warming gases. Ooops...I forgot, it is only Americans through our recklessness that make Greenhouse gases; bring me the flagellum.

There are many alternate sources of energy; I still favor the collection of solar power in space and beaming it back to earth. Yes, it would cost, no, not prohibitively compared to other things we waste our money on now with no hope of real return.

Someone mentioned nuclear war; that would cool things down and kill enough we would be sent back to the stone age and have to start up again. Delay reckoning; who volunteers to blow off the first bomb in his yard? Don't think of the millions of innocent, think how you are Saving The World for whoever is left!

But a good thermonuclear war might get some people's attention, and clear out some pesky CO2!!

I agree...corn to make ethanol...why, when sugar beets grow more widely, and have much more fermentable carbohydrates. And are not food for humans, much anyhow.

And why not develop the gas turbine in car size, other than NASCAR thinks is it so much more powerful and efficient that it has to throttle them to a whisper so racing is "competitive"? It runs on almost anything liquid and burnable...even wine and vodka!

Nuclear electricity is developed and proven safe, we just have to overcome the irrational fears of the public. Lots of options. Look ahead, see new vistas opening, if we do not stifle invention, and push on looking ahead, not fearfully behind.

If the past history of Global Warming is correct, we can have prosperity and plenty to eat this time too, like the last time!! If we move forward confidently and do not let politics and fearmongers stand in our way.

We can always go back to oxcarts, too, with catalytic methane burners attached behind.
those of us who have the INSIGHT to not be dependent on oil, ( all us tree hugging radicals) won't miss it unless we really like stuff that has to be imported. Corporate will hurt. those dependent on corporate will hurt. everyone else is going to be in a heck of a fix.
The petroleum industry was a result of another energy crisis. The lack of whale oil for reading lamps. Oil that bubbled up from the ground was naturally refined and kerosene replaced whale oil in lamps.

We are seeing Photovoltaic Panel Manufacturers opening new factories frequently. Wind turbines are a resurgent industry now that the demand is back. Wave and tidal generators are new ideas that show promise but need to have the environmental impacts researched thoroughly.

We as humans have made mistakes but we are on the road to making clean sustainable energy.
My guess is that are that there will not be significant action until the last drop of oil/coal is extracted.
Nah, you'll just move back to the city and take trains everywhere. It'll definitely cause a shift in real estate, a lot of tired old city neighborhoods will get popular again because the subway stops there.
We have only tapped about 5% of the earths oil. The GOVERNMENT and ENVIOMENTALISTS are the ones who don't want any more oil wells. They are the blame for the lack of oil. Other than the lies of the oil refineries that claim they can't process what we have fast enough.

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