Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why we will never run out of oil: an interview with professor Ugo Bardi

Today, this blog is proud to present in exclusive worldwide the transcript of an interview that Professor Ugo Bardi, the author of the book "Extracted," granted to the Ronkonkoma (*) Radio Station, Long Island, New York. 

- First of all, professor Bardi, thank you for accepting to speak to Ronkonkoma Radio. 

- It is a pleasure.

- So, before going on with the interview, a brief presentation for our listeners. Professor Ugo Bardi teaches at the university of Florence, in Italy, and he is well known for his studies on mineral resources and in particular on crude oil. About his work, we came to know that he recently obtained a major research grant from a large oil company. Is it true, professor?

- Yes, I can confirm that I received a grant, although I cannot disclose the name of the company.

- So, congratulations, professor. Do I understand correctly that this grant allowed you to make a major discovery in the field of oil production trends?

It is correct. It is a new model that I developed on the basis of some highly sophisticated mathematical methods to describe the future production of crude oil.

- And it led to you to the conclusion that we will never run out of oil?

- Basically, yes.

- I understand that the mathematics involved in the model is very complex, but could you describe your results in a simple way to our listeners?

- I think I can. So, think about this: before you run out of all of the oil you have, you have to use half of it, right?

- Yes.

- Now, if you have used half of your oil, it means that you are left with half of it. Is it right?

- Of course.

- Then, before you consume that half which is left, you have to consume half of that half, right?

- I think I can follow your logic, professor......

- And then, there will be another half, and then another, and so on.....

- That means we'll never run of oil, I guess.

- You have it.

- You know, professor, your model reminds me of something I studied in high school, something that involved a turtle and someone running after it; I don't remember his name.

- Oh, well, it is a remote origin of this model. Indeed, sometimes my students call it the "Achilles and the Turtle" model.

- But, professor, there is something that bothers me about all this. I understand your point, but as we divide our oil in half over and over, doesn't that mean we'll have less and less of it?

- No.... not at all.

- But why?

- Well, you should understand the mathematics of the model but, again, I can explain it in a simple way for our listeners. Let me go back to what I was saying. You have this oil, think of dividing it in two equal parts. Then you go on and you use the first half. You follow me?

- Yes. 

- Then you are left with the other half, correct?

- Correct.

- So, it makes no difference: you have the same amount of oil as before. Then, what's the problem?

- You know, professor, your logic is overwhelming, but I must confess that am a little confused.

- Well, I understand that, the mathematics involved is highly complex, indeed. But the end result is simple. You always have oil and you can produce as much of it as you like. There is just a little detail to consider. You have to invest more in extraction as you have less of it.

 - Doesn't that mean we have to pay more for oil?

- Yes, you have this minor inconvenience.

- I see..... Professor, something made me think again of that grant from an oil company. Could you tell us the amount of money your received?

- I am sorry, I cannot disclose that.

- So, thank you very much, professor Bardi, for being with us for this interview with radio Ronkonkoma, New York. Now a little break. 

(*) If you wonder about the name "Ronkonkoma" - it is a place that exists (and it even has a radio station). I used the name in this post because I lived in that area back in the 1970s


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)