I received an exciting e-mail from a fellow energy/climate change systems analyst last week. I've been digesting his news and doing some deeper digging on my own and I'm ready to proclaim that the news is spot on.
It seems that the abiotic theory of oil production is true! Recently the oil pressure in Saudi Arabia's super giant field, Ghawar, has been increasing. That's right, the pressure is going up and that can only mean one thing. Oil is seeping into the field from below. Apparently a similar increase in pressure has occurred in several fields in West Texas as well. In one case the pressure reached gusher levels! I'll explain in a bit.
But first I have to relate the similarly exciting news that is a corollary to the oil news. It seems Dr. Arthur Dent, a climatologist and chemist at the University of New South Whales, has discovered the reason for the recent decline in CO2 in the atmosphere. It turns out that at the Earth's current average annual temperature CO2 is being reabsorbed by the planet and through an obscure mechanism still to be understood, is being combined with water to form complex hydrocarbons which then seep downward into the planet's crust. It now seems certain that the carbon cycle that humans have been driving exponentially toward complete oxidation of hydrocarbons has now caused a booting up of the reverse process that returns carbon to the reduced state!
In the figure below I show how this complete cycle seems to work. According to Dr. Dent certain inactive volcanoes are acting as funnels in which the hydrocarbon condensation is taking place. The produced oil is then traveling to the deep crust where the depth is too great for ordinary drilling to occur, which is why these pools have remained undiscovered by us humans. As shown in the diagram, the oil adds to the deeper pools which then causes the pressure in that reservoir to rise and pushes oil up into the higher reservoir that is being tapped by humans. Thus the cycle is complete and we have the potential for an endless stream of hydrocarbons plus an automatic control over excess warming by greenhouse gas emissions. To think, our concepts of physics and thermodynamics have been in so much error! This is spectacular news.
Figure 1. The carbon cycle takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (and hydrosphere, presumably) and converts it into complex hydrocarbons that condense in volcanoes to replenish the oil reservoirs.
Mankind is saved! Just keep those pumps running boys. We can continue business as usual without worry. We have endless oil and can burn it with abandon. As long as we do so the cycle is driven in the right direction. The only problem is that we have to keep the burning going to keep the temperatures up. James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia Theory, told me in a personal communication that this is just one more bit of proof that the Earth is maintaining balance in order to protect her children (us). Moreover, the famous Chicago School economist, Julian Simon (who you may recall made a famous bet with Paul Ehrlich on just this point) is reported to have only been playing dead all these years and has now re-emerged to lead humanity to a bright new future of endless sustainable economic growth. Of course we have to stay in the steady-state equilibrium vis-a-vis energy use. But that should be easy. According to Paul Krugman and Tom Friedman human ingenuity will always make it possible to produce more stuff at ever higher efficiencies. Let the party recommence.
I guess I can shut down this blog now. I've been proved completely wrong on so many counts that there doesn't seem to be much point in continuing to question everything, or, for that matter, anything. From now on I defer to Julian Simon, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and all of the sage neoclassical economist who, it turns out, were right all along. Who knew?
Happy April 1