so much surrounding economics and the environment is pure rubbish.
like these drs. of doom claiming that flying will be prohibitively expensive in our lifetimes.
honestly, how do you fool someone into not laughing in your face when you make such claims?
the claim was probably based on the naive assumptions that oil consumption always goes up, that there is not now and there will never be a replacement for oil, and that there is only so much oil in the world.
1) sometimes oil consumption goes down - in the US with gas prices around $4/gallon (prices that most of the rest of the industrialized world has been dealing with for decades), our oil consumption goes down. we drive less when it is expensive to drive. imagine that. economics work.
2) there are at least hundreds of substitutes for oil, possibly thousands. from biomass to coal-to-liquids to solar to nuclear. we don't use any of them in any significant way because oil is helluva cheap. if push comes to shove and people face the possibility of not being able to move around the planet economically or putting some extra carbon in the atmosphere by using jet fuel made via a coal-to-liquids process, the vast majority of people will choose to fly.
3) yes, fine. there is one amount of oil in the planet and it is a finite number. but the number that most environmentalists use for soothsaying isn't that very large finite number. they use the much smaller "economically viable oil deposits" number, which is virtually worthless. as technology progresses, the costs of extracting "uneconomical" oil deposits come down and as prices rise, deposits move from the uneconomical column to the economical one. so, the actual amount of oil that humanity will eventually extract from the earth could be many many times larger than the "total deposits" number that environmentalists use.
economists have ignored environmentalists for decades, bringing us beef production processes that use 15,500 liters per kilo* of beef among other things. maybe environmentalists are just trying to return the favor.
* at this rate of water consumption, agricultural water has been determined by the economic system to be nearly absolutely worthless. even if the entire retail price of beef went only to pay for the water used in the production of the beef (at $20/kilo for a decent cut of beef), you'd only pay $.0013 per liter of water. just over a tenth of a cent. the real price paid is probably closer to 5-10% of that. anyone want to make a guess why we talk about water shortages and what could possibly be done to reduce the risk of having one? giving clean water an economic value greater than 0 would be a good place to start.