NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

WHY WE WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF ENERGY

June 16, 2005

Science and unfettered human ingenuity will save us from an energy dystopia, say Peter Huber and Mark Mills in their new book "The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy."

Huber, a writer on energy and legal questions, and Mills, a physicist, say energy supplies are infinite. In science, one discover leads to another, and in their book, the authors give abundant information as to how that notion plays out with regard to energy. For example:

  • Gasoline engines will soon be replaced by silicon and electric power that eliminate the need for a gear box, drive shaft, differential and related hardware.
  • Hybrid engines will multiply in number and capability and will most likely lead to cars propelled by fuel-fired power grids.
  • For decades we have been running out of oil, yet the faster we extract it, the harder and smarter we work at doing things that were not doable before, such as squeezing supplies out of Canadian tar sands.

Huber and Mills also explain how the energy supply is determined not by what is out there but by how good we are at finding and extracting it. So whether we catch our solar energy live, dig it up in fossilized form or mine uranium instead is really just a detail.

As for energy policy, the authors are no fans of subsidized nudges toward one endeavor or another. Again and again the authors say: let the marketplace figure it out. Keep the regulators at home; let the men and women with brains and vision try and fail and try again. And we will all move onward.

Source: William Murchison, ?Creative Energy: What Happens If We Run Out of Gas,? Dallas Morning News, June 5, 2005; based upon: Peter Huber and Mark Mills, "The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy," Basic Books, 2005.

 

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