As I head-off on holiday to Switzerland tomorrow, I feel a pang of conscience about the added burden to my carbon-footprint, but I will be thinking about turning algae into biofuels and reading a new book that claims that oil is not of fossil origin, but is formed deep within the earth, according to Thomas Gold's hypothesis, and the great Russian chemist, Mendeleev, who famously invented the Periodic table of the Chemical Elements. The book is entitled, "Black Gold Stranglehold" and subtitled "The myth of scarcity and the politics of oil." It is written by Jerome R. Corsi and Craig R. Smith, who is CEO of Swiss America Trading Corporation - something of a coincidence perhaps, to my travel destination.
The Swiss are an environmentally aware and active nation and generate around 20% of their electricity from hydropower. Other than this they are as dependent on fossil fuels as the rest of us, and as far as I know they have little in the way of natural resources such as gas, oil or coal. I have had a long love-affair with Switzerland, beginning with a holiday there 24 years ago, walking in the Bernese Oberland, and visiting the Reichenbachfalle (Reichenbach Falls) where fictionally Arthur Conan Doyle killed-off Sherlock Holmes' arch-rival, Professor Moriarty, in a death-struggle the two of them had, which resulted in both falling. Holmes was later found to have survived, such was public demand that Conan Doyle wrote more of his fabulous stories on the detective of his imagination, even though the author himself had had enough of him.
The basic idea is that there weren't enough dinosaurs to have been cooked into the vast amount of oil that has been recovered to date, let alone the other half of it that is thought recoverable. There is much debate about how much oil there is to be recovered and Richard Pike (CEO of the Royal Society of Chemistry) was quoted recently as saying that there may be twice as much oil left as was thought - perhaps twice the figure of around 1200 billion barrels. Now that all depends on what precisely is meant by oil, and if you count-in heavy oil, bitumen from tar-sands and oil-shale, maybe there could be 2.4 trillion barrels of it. 3.7 trillion barrels is one estimate I have seen but that counted-in everything including coal-to-liquids conversion.
The real limit is the rate of recovery, however, not how much "oil" there is down there or could be synthesised. Also, while it is nice to see that the price of a barrel of oil is down to around $120 from almost $150, my money is still on a steady increase in the future as none of these oil-sources are likely to be cheap. One wonders too whether the world powers have conspired to pull-down the price of oil in order to preserve the global economy, which could collapse if it rises high enough. Apparently, in the U.S., there has been a fall in the amount of fuel used during the past few months, which is unexpected since people normally drive more during the summer, but not at $4 a gallon, perhaps. Still, it's nearer $8 a gallon over here, the most expensive fuel in Europe.