The Malthusian Theory, named long ago for Thomas Malthus, posited that population growth would eventually return society to a subsistence level as the output of agriculture was fixed.
In other words, as population grew, we'd run out of food, which was considered to be in a state of fixed supply.
That wrongheaded Malthusian principle has often been applied to oil capacity and oil depletion as well.
The problem is that it's wrong, because it doesn't factor in new knowledge, better technology and the increased productivity and output arising therefrom.
People have capacity to grow their knowledge base exponentially, and as our individual and collective knowledge increases, our productive capacity increases as well.
If you doubt this, think of what we are able to do using the internet today compared to how we communicated just a few short decades ago, and then reflect on why that's possible.
It's all due to increased human knowledge based on improved technology and the appropriate application thereof.
Similarly, how much oil exists depends largely on the state of knowledge and related technology. In turn we achieve progress built on added output and higher productivity.
In short, free markets and the contributions of free people are the keys to material progress and our ever growing standards of living.
Consider Notable & Quotable , global oil capacity and the supposed 'limits to growth.' Here's what it says:
"Forty years ago, The Limits to Growth, a report to the Club of Rome, was released with great fanfare at a conference at the Smithsonian Institution. The study was based on a computer model developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and designed "to investigate five major trends of global concern—accelerating industrial development, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of nonrenewable resources, and a deteriorating environment." . . . In 1972, the Limits researchers estimated known global oil reserves at 455 billion barrels. Since then the world has produced very nearly 1 trillion barrels of oil and current known reserves hover around 1.2 trillion barrels, a 40-year supply at current consumption rates. With regard to natural gas supplies, the International Energy Agency last year issued a report asserting, "Conventional recoverable resources are equivalent to more than 120 years of current global consumption, while total recoverable resources could sustain today's production for over 250 years.""
And that's why free people operating in free markets can do wonderful things. As knowledge expands, benefits increase exponentially.
No few members of the intelligentsia will ever match the collective knowledge or good judgment of We the People. Accordingly, that total knowledge held and dispersed by We the People will always far exceed the limited knowledge possessed by our nation's so-called political leaders.
Of course, we'll need to make sure the politicians always know that we know that, or they'll act otherwise. In any event, we won't run out of or need to suffer a shortage of fuel.
Knowledge and personal freedoms are the keys to the future, and the future will always be bright for Americans. You'd think we'd all know that by now.
That said, reminders are required from time to time as to who's really in charge and why knowledge matters.
The oil's there to be discovered and drilled. So let's get busy doing the right thing instead of arguing about the wrong thing.
And while we're at it, let's be quick to remind the politicians of that simple fact, too.