• Question: if we continue using up fossil fuels at the rate we are currently, how long do you estimate that we run out?

    Asked by FifiMcP to James, Ahmed, Francesca, George, Nitheen on 12 Nov 2014. This question was also asked by where are the scientists???????.
    • Photo: James Sullivan

      James Sullivan answered on 12 Nov 2014:

      Hi 456susa36,
      BP have recently carried out a report that says the world has 861 billion tonnes of coal, 187 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and 1669 billion barrels of crude oil in proven fields.
      At today’s level of use that says proved reserves of coal will be exhausted in 109 years, natural gas will be extracted by 2068. And oil removed by 2065.
      On top of this we can assume that our energy demand will go up – as population and energy use per person rises and we will need to extract more per year (causing these predictions to become shorter)
      On the other hand, as supplies diminish prices will go up, and exploration will become viable in places that currently we couldn’t afford to explore – so more reserves will be found (causing these predictions to lengthen).
      As a rule of thumb – since about 1875 – the levels of available oil have always been “today + 50 years”
      I hope this helps.

    • Photo: Francesca Paradisi

      Francesca Paradisi answered on 13 Nov 2014:

      Brilliant answer from James, couldn’t add anything to it!

    • Photo: Ahmed Osman

      Ahmed Osman answered on 17 Nov 2014:

      Clearly fossil fuel reserves are finite – it’s only a matter of when they run out – not if. Globally – every year we currently consume the equivalent of over 11 billion tonnes of oil in fossil fuels. Crude oil reserves are vanishing at the rate of 4 billion tonnes a year1 – if we carry on at this rate without any increase for our growing population or aspirations, our known oil deposits will be gone by 2052.

      We’ll still have gas left, and coal too. But if we increase gas production to fill the energy gap left by oil, then those reserves will only give us an additional eight years, taking us to 2060. But the rate at which the world consumes fossil fuels is not standing still, it is increasing as the world’s population increases and as living standards rise in parts of the world that until recently had consumed very little energy. Fossil Fuels will therefore run out earlier.

      It’s often claimed that we have enough coal to last hundreds of years. But if we step up production to fill the gap left through depleting our oil and gas reserves, the coal deposits we know about will only give us enough energy to take us as far as 2088. And let’s not even think of the carbon dioxide emissions from burning all that coal.
      so at maximum 2088
      hope it is clear now