Austin Quan

Peak Oil and Resource Depletion

Original questions

  1. Peak oil and how much we have of key resources
  2. fusion
  3. What appears to be our best strategy at the moment? Is there a silver bullet?

Presentation 1 Presentation 2

Some questions

  1. David Rutledge at Caltech ( has looked into Hubbert's Peak, coal, and other questions of resource depletion. What are his main points?
  2. What was the basis of Hubbert's original prediction about U.S. oil production and how close to accurate was it?
  3. Suppose that we do hit peak oil soon (with a year or two). What are the likely social consequences?
  4. "Drill, baby, drill!" was a common refrain at the Republican National Convention in 2008. How much oil is there in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? How far would it go?
  5. Besides requiring lots of water, a drawback to unconventional oil supplies is that they require more processing than does light sweet crude oil. What fraction of the energy content of a barrel of light sweet crude is required to pump it out of the ground and process it to produce fuels, if we ignore transportation energy? How does this fraction compare to that required for oil sands or other unconventional sources?
  6. With comparatively high oil prices in recent years, oil companies have had an incentive to expand exploration activities. Nevertheless, the rate of significant finds has not increased. Does this mean that there aren't many large undiscovered fields out there, or is there still plenty of uncharted territory?