“And the oil stayed.” 2 Kings 4:6
This story in II Kings is a wonderful demonstration of God’s ability to address the needs of all those that believe in him. In this particular case a woman was preparing her family’s last meal. Elisha told her to start filling jars from the one container of oil that she had. She was able to fill every empty container in town. The revenue from the sale of this excess oil helped her family through the famine.
I believe that God is the source of all supply and can address the needs of those who trust in him. I also believe we are going to need a similar sort of miracle if we expect to continue to burn oil at our currrent rates.
The problem is that there are those in this country who are convinced that we aren’t running out of oil.
One claim is that oil is an inorganic renewable deep earth resource rather than residue from long buried plants and animals. This theory has been around long enough that it has its own name – Abiotic Oil. It has also been widely and regularly disproven. While you don’t find dinosaur bones in oil, what you do find is isotopes, biomarkers, and clorins which are the residue of the original organic matter that formed the oil. These chemical fingerprints link the oil to the particular field from which it came as a result of the specific mix of organic material that produced the oil
It isn’t that there may not be abiotic oil, but the vast quantities of oil that we have been extracting from the earth are coming from organic sources. Inorganic abiotic oil sources may be our there, but geologists haven’t been able to find them in predictable accessible places or in sufficient quantities to make it an alternative to continued extraction of organic oil.
A more loopy theory is that the current administration is trying to drive us to a socialist alternative energy state by preventing oil companies from gaining access to the virtually inexhaustible reserves of oil out there.
If that’s true, the oil companies are certainly complicit in this plot because they are telling their stock holders that their existing wells are running dry. They say new oil will come from more difficult dangerous risky expensive places. They back up those claims by drilling wells in deep water or in inhospitably cold climates. They are testing techniques to squeeze it out of rocks or heat it up when it is too thick to flow. Since we all believe in capitalism, we should also trust that oil companies are going to invest their money in whatever site is the next cheapest on their list of available locations.
You can also figure that oil company lobby money and the “drill baby drill” conservatives would identify any cheap accessible sites that were unavailable for oil exploration because of government restrictions. BP was able to drill at the Deep Horizon site, for example, as a result of the federal government lifting a previous ban on deep water drilling.
Truth is that oil is a limited resource. We have used all of the easy cheap oil. Future oil extraction will be more difficult, expensive, and pose more of the risks that we have seen in Gulf of Mexico. The BP spill is a massive disaster but it isn’t the only one. There are oil spills in the Amazon rain forest, the Alaska wilderness, the Great Barrier Reef, and many other sensitive environments previously off limits to oil exploration.
As a result, we have to do a better job of regulating the drilling process. The BP spill is just another example of what happens when industries operate in what was effectively an unregulated market.
We also have to create more effective repair and clean up technology to keep pace with new drilling technology. Regulations will create a market for this technology by requiring the industry to demonstrate that they can responsibly manage the wells that they drill.
Finally, we have to face the uncomfortable fact that our oil-based economy is unsustainable. China is already making massive investments in sustainable energy sources. We must get past the fears of our oil funded lunatic fringe and do the same if we hope to compete in the post-oil economy.