Oil will not run out for a very long time. If or when it eventually does, we will just manufacture it from coal. That’s according to respected UC Berkley physicist Richard Muller.
Granted, Muller is neither an energy expert or clairvoyant. But as a top Quora writer, he’s one of the most educated and smartest persons I’ve read on a range of subjects.
So what might the future of energy look like? Because it runs circles around the power and convenience of other energy sources—seriously, oil’s potency is remarkable—the black gooey substance will remain the go-to-source for mobile transportation with nuclear powering an increasing amount of the grid.
That might make both mother nature and tree-huggers cringe. But Muller predicts car technology will eventually cut carbon in missions by half, if not two thirds. The real emission savings will ultimately come from factory reductions. “The pace of global warming will slow as we use fossil fuels more efficiently and build nuclear capability,” he says. “Solar and wind will contribute, but not as much as many people would like, because their expense will remain too high.”
In other words, pending a scientific breakthrough in battery storage, more affordable dinosaur remains will continue to fuel the lion’s share of future energy. “I am not advocating this future,” Muller concludes. “I am simply trying to evaluate objectively the direction that I see an economically-driven world as moving. And most of the developing countries will decide that adaptation to increased warmth is a better option than expensive and inconvenient energy.”
Disclosure: I believe humans are capable of negatively affecting climate but am unconvinced by how much. I believe renewable energy is rad (if we can solve the storage problem). I also believe that politics and money have clouded the judgment of opposing sides of the issue and caused each to emotionally overstate their concerns. You know, humans being humans.