Response to Neil Reynolds and the U.S.’s thirst for oil

In his uncritical parroting of the findings of the Strategic Unconventional Fuels Task Force (Here’s why the U.S. is facing up to its thirst for oil, 21 November), Neil Reynolds claims that the “task force puts ‘peak oil’ into perspective” because despite already having consumed 446 billion barrels of its fossil-fuel endowment, the United States still has over 8.59 trillion barrels of “oil equivalent” remaining.

What Mr. Reynolds fails to mention, despite the title of his article, is that the reason the United States is “facing up to its thirst for oil” and turning to liquid fuels from unconventional sources such as corn, coal, and oil shale is because the production of conventional sources of light and medium crude has peaked in most countries (including Mexico, the United States, and Canada).

If the Strategic Unconventional Fuels Task Force’s “aggressive development” of liquid fuels should ever occur, the United States would soon be facing up to more peaks: converting unconventional sources of energy into barrels of “oil equivalent” consumes large quantities of energy or water, or both.

Published: Globe and Mail 23 October 2007