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Petroleum, the Triple Threat to World Economies

Global warming and climate change are caused by fossil fuel combustion. Accelerating energy consumption by China and India will increase average global temperatures 4 to 5 degrees Celsius in 2050 from those in 1900. Petroleum is the only transportation fuel. At an annual consumption of 50 billion barrels the reserves of 1 to 2.3 trillion barrels will run out in 20 to 50 years. Lack of transportation fuels will wreck economies.

World economies are facing a triple threat. Oil reserves will be close to depletion by the year 2050. Damages from climate changes caused by escalating greenhouse gas emissions will become substantial. Rising transportation and food costs will slow economic growth rates. The results will lead to worldwide economic stagnation without hope for escape or reversal.

Future generations will have to pay dearly for the failure of previous national governments to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and to change world energy supplies. Our dependence on fossil fuels must be terminated completely within the next three to four decades or the world will self-destruct.

Let's us look at the facts that lead to these frightening conclusions.

Statements about petroleum reserves have been dubious in the past. In 2007, lowest figures are in the range of 1 to 1.3 trillion barrels. A figure as high as 2.3 trillion barrels has been proposed but will not find many supporters, not even in the oil industry.

At the 2006 rate of oil consumption of 31 billion barrels per year, these reserves could last 32 to 74 years. Such figures are often quoted but are much too high because annual oil consumption is continually rising. The growth rate is approximately 2% per year. Projecting steady growth to the year 2050, the actual consumption is going to be 60% higher. This increases the average annual consumption rate between 2006 and 2050 to a very realistic 50 billion barrels per year. Time to depletion is reduced to a time span of 20 years to 46 years. Most likely, neither figure is correct. However, it is reasonable to assume that a figure between 20 years and 46 years will be most likely.

Combusting 1 to 2.3 trillion barrels of oil will add a huge amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The amount is 0.42 to 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide. This huge mass will increase the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere by 55 to 125 ppm. Only a small percentage of this additional mass will be absorbed in the oceans. Most of it will lead to a substantial increase in the atmosphere's carbon dioxide content.

During the same time, an even larger amount of carbon dioxide will be added to the atmosphere from the accelerating burning of coal and natural gas.

There is a direct connection between carbon dioxide accumulation and global temperature increase. During the last 30 years, this correlation amounted to approximately 2 degree C per 100 ppm carbon dioxide. If we accept this correlation as valid, we are faced with some very ugly numbers. During the next 46 years, we will increase the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration by at least 200 ppm. In turn, this increase will result in a rise of global temperatures by 4 degree C. This means that by the year 2050, the world will have warmed by 5 degree C! This figure is more realistic than recent IPCC forecasts.

The robust growth of world economies and the exceptionally fast increase in energy consumption in China and India will result in much higher energy consumption and in a much faster growth of greenhouse gases than originally predicted. Two other accelerating factors are the failure of the Kyoto Protocol to perceptibly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the decision of the USA to delay any countermeasures.

In view of actual, past developments and by accepting a realistic future outlook, we must draw several, inescapable conclusions. The increase of global temperatures on Earth will become faster, transportation of commodities and goods will get extremely costly, and the effects of global warming on climate change will continue to become more numerous and more destructive. This confluence of future developments will lead inescapably to a major threat to all world economies.

Once world economies begin to contract and collapse, national economies cannot marshal any longer the necessary resources that could have saved the world. Installation of effective countermeasures will require a minimum time of thirty years. Once economies contract, there will be no resources and no time left to implement solutions.

The world will have lost the ability to install any of the promising, renewable technologiesFree Web Content, which are able to produce electricity and liquid transportation fuels without the emission of any destructive greenhouse gases. The world as we know it will cease to exist.

Article Tags: Triple Threat, World Economies, Year 2050, Carbon Dioxide, Trillion Barrels

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Dr. Hemsath recently published the book CLIMATE CHANGE - GOLD RUSH OR DISASTER? For 50 years he has worked as scientist, process engineer, Director of R&D, Corporate Vice President of R&D, Company President, Chief Executive Officer, and Inventor. He holds more than 60 US Patents. Visit his site at He is now working on a second book, THE SOLUTION TO GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE.

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