Friday, July 1, 2011

Peak oil joke

I know, I know, this is not an original joke; it is an old one, readapted. But there are not so many jokes on peak oil, actually none I know about - so now there is at least one. It came up over a few beers after the social dinner at the Barbastro conference on peak oil. If I remember correctly (you know, all those beers....) I told a first version of the joke in that occasion, then Pilar Carrero improved it on the spot with a better punchline. So, here it is; a lighter side of the peak oil problem!

An geologist is prospecting for crude oil, somewhere in a desert. Digging here and there, he finds an old oil lamp. He uncorks it and, suddenly, a big, mean genie comes out. Towering over the geologist, the genie speaks to him in a thundering voice:

Genie - Mortal, you freed me from a thousand years of imprisonment in this old lamp. I had sworn that I would fulfil a wish to anyone who would free me; so now, express your wish!

Geol. - "Oh, genie, that's very nice of you........"

Genie - "Then, Mortal, speak!"

Geol. - "Well, I think I don't want anything for me. I'd rather ask for something useful for everybody. So, Genie, could you solve the peak oil problem?"

Genie - "Mortal, consider that I have been locked inside that stupid lamp for one thousand years. Pray, explain to me what is the "peak oil problem"

Geol. - "Ah... see, it has to do with crude oil......"

Genie - "Which is.....?"

Geol. - "It is like the oil for those lamps - the one you came out from. But we use it for a lot more things, like cars...."

Genie - "Cars?"

Geologist - "Sort of magic carpets, but on wheels."

Genie - "I see."

Geol. - "And then, you see, we need a lot of this oil, because we have many cars...."

Genie - "And the problem is....?"

Geol. - "Well, you know, oil has been formed long time ago as the result of sedimentation of organic material in anoxic conditions. The process called diagenesis leads to the formation of kerogene and then, at sufficiently high temperatures and pressures, to the formation of long chain hydrocarbons that collect in formations called anticlines.....

Genie - "Anticlines?"

Geol. - "Yes, anticlines. Salt domes, usually, a fold in which oil collects by buoyancy. It is from there that we extract crude oil and, you see, what we would need is a way to fill up again those anticlines......"

Genie - "Hold on, mister. You know, I am a desert genie. I know nothing about crude oil, diagenesis, anticlines.... I mean, I can do things; I am a supernatural being, after all. But what you are asking me; what the heck; it is too much - filling up the anticlines with crude oil? Couldn't you think of something simpler for your wish?

Geol. "Hmmm..... yes, I understand. Sorry, I have been asking for something very difficult. Maybe I could think of something simpler.

Genie. "Thanks......"

Geol. "Let me see.... Yes, there is one thing I had always wanted. I would like to be able to understand women."

Genie - "........."

Geol. - ".........."

Genie - "Let's see...... could you tell me more about those anticlines?"


If you are curious about the co-developer of this peak oil joke, here is a picture of Pilar (Pili) Carrero, who did an excellent job with the organization of the Barbastro peak oil conference. Pili also interviewed several of the speakers (see the interviews at this link), including the modest me whom you can admire (so to say) while desperately trying to speak Spanish, here.


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)