Here It Comes: 'Fossil fuel' theory takes hit with NASA finding

NASA scientists are about to publish conclusive studies showing abundant methane of a non-biologic nature is found on Saturn's giant moon Titan, a finding that validates a new book's contention that oil is not a fossil fuel.

"This finding confirms one of the key arguments in 'Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil,'" claims co-author Jerome R. Corsi. "We argue that oil and natural gas are abiotic products, not 'fossil fuels' that are biologically created by the debris of dead dinosaurs and ancient forests." Discuss.
Ah, come on! I love this stuff!

Perhaps Corsi and Smith ought to go to Saturn's moon Titan (where they already seem to live, so it shouldn't be much of a problem) and create a Business Plan for getting that methane back here to Earth--if it's actually there. But as Stuart told me (personal communication), if you're going to do a business venture, you need an Exit Strategy. I can't see one here.

This reminds me of the Methane Hydrates (Clathrates) solution to our future energy problems. Just for general interest, a strong hypothesis about the PETM (Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum) warming that occurred about 55 million years ago is that these clathrates got released from the continental shelves where they resided (and still do) due to ocean warming over a 10 to 20 kya warming period.

In my view, it would take about that much time for these bozos to wake up and smell the coffee. Or maybe not, my experience with people is that they don't change much, what you see is what you're pretty much going to get. And so with Corsi and Smith.
This is all you have to know:
Methane = CH4

A carbon atom surrounded by 4 hydrogen atoms. The combination is so simple that many possible non-biological processes can form a methane molecule.

Ah, good grief. Do we have to give him any more free publicity? He needs to go tap his rich right-wing friends for some investment money, hire a rig and whoever he thinks the best abiotic scientists are and go find some abiotic oil. Until he does, he's just a charlatan hawking a book, and we should ignore him unless there are signs of anyone with a clue being confused by him. My suspicion is that his rich right-wing friends will all prove much too canny to lose their hard-earned dough chasing after abiotic oil.
It won't be a tough search. He will just go to Titan and get some.
One of the main promoters of the abiotic oil hypothesis (I won't dignify it with the label "theory") is a fellow named Dave McGowan. His articles are published on the same site that publishes articles with titles like "The Illuminati Formula to Create an Undetectable Total Mind Control Slave."

Need I say more?

Right from the press release they referenced:

"The carbon in methane molecules comes in different varieties, or isotopes - carbon-12 (12C) and carbon-13 (13C). Each 13C atom has an extra neutron in its nucleus, making them slightly heavier than 12C atoms, so the GCMS can distinguish between methane with 12C and methane with 13C.

Living organisms have a preference for carbon-12. As a result, carbon-containing molecules, such as methane, that are associated with life on Earth get enriched in 12C. The ratio of 12C to 13C is a marker or signature of life.  However, the team did not see 12C enrichment in the methane on Titan."

So the way researchers know that Titan's methane is abiotic, is also how they know Earth's is biological.

First: As pointed out before, Methane is not Oil.
Second: I'm not a geologist, so I can't argue if Oil is of a biotic nature or not. And I don't even care about that. All I know is that it has been depleted much faster than it has been replenished (beeing that the case).
All I know is that it has been depleted much faster than it has been replenished

Lads, you are right on the money!  Chemistry gave me a headache so I cannot tell you how this forms that and becomes what.  I can talk fluid dynamics and flow rates.  

I have never seen a guesstimate from the Abiotic crowd on how much oil the earth is supposed to be producing.  It can't be much.  If it was, there would be oil laying all about the surface.  The geologic 'traps' would fill and oil would be dripping to the surface.

However, lets stipulate the earth is producing a million barrels of oil a day.  Thats a lot!  Half a supertaker.  Not enough?  128 acre-feet of oil.  Lets say 10 million. More than 2 cubic MILES of oil every day.

We are pumping some 80+ million bbls a day out of the ground....  We are in trouble.  BTW, if the oil is supposed to be coming from the 'center of the earth', why is it concentrated in certain, specific places?  

The calculation is incorrect. The world uses about 30 billion barrels a year. That is slightly more than 1 cubic mile per year. Not 16 cubic mile per day.

Assuming the total remaining recoverable oil in the world is 600 billion barrels, if you lay that oil evenly on the surface of the earth, it's a thin layer of slightly less than 0.5 milimeter thick. That tells you how precious petroleum is. If it were abiotic, vastly much more quantity of oil would have been found already.

If you divide that quantity by the total volume of the earth, it's only 8.8x10^-5 ppm of the earth's volume. That's how precious oil is and we should be grateful that the petroleum, which is of biological origin, is concentrated in a way for us to retrieve easily.

It's true abiotic methane is found in plenty else where in the solar system. Since earth is formed from the same primordal soup, one may reasonably suspect that the same abiotic methane may exist on earth. The very origin of life on earth requires a high concentration of organic material in the promordal soup that formed the earth.

But it's all irrevevant as pie in the sky, or as irrelevant as methane on the Titan, as long as we have not found where these methane are on the earth, or have no reasonable way of retrieving and utilizing these methanes. We already know there is plenty of methane hydrates, equivalent to several times the known petroleum reserves, right underneath the bottom of oceans. But we currently have no technology to fetch those methanes hydrates.

Your right.  I did the math quickly on the way out the door this morning with the wife fussing that we were late.

1 bbl oil = 5.6145833 cuft (per

5.6145833*10^6 cuft / 5280 ft / 5280 ft / 5280 ft = 0.00003814 mi^3.

I'm an electrical engineer - I don't have a dog in the fight about how it formed.  It's interesting, but not very important.  As you say, what is important is that it is depeleting, and whatever the formation process is it is geological in time scale.  

But these thought diversions will continue to be spoon-fed to a willing popluation that does not want to hear bad news, by those who do not want them to hear it.  It's all good!  Please continue shopping.

"I know is that it has been depleted much faster than it has been replenished (beeing that the case)."

This is at the heart of the abiotic oil debate!  How do we know that our reserves are actually depleting?  The oil companies tell us!  If the oil reserves were not depleting, they couldn't charge so much.  Supply and demand.  Limit supply, prices go up.  So I ask again, how do we REALLY know that the oil reserves are drying up?

OK, now I just finished reading and commenting on the post about that book "Over the Barrel."

Are you trying to incite a riot here??? ;]

I think we've always known that the primordial atmosphere contained methane.  And so, we might postulate that some abiotic methane might remain.

That wouldn't in my mind disprove "biotic oil" - especially given the claim that oil cointains molecules that look very much like the breakdown products of living matter.

My question would be, is there a likely abiotic reaction path from methane upward to those complex molecules, or is that part handwaving?

(I have a chem degree but I've forgotten everything.)

See, as I said before, these abiotic claims are not going to go away, and are in fact, going to get more and more attention. Why? Because it's comforting, and people generally like being comfortable more than they like being uncomfortable.

If the biotic theory of oil formation versus the abiotic theory were only a scientific debate, that  would be OK, as it's healthy for knowledgable people to disagree. That's called scientific controversy. However, it's gone far beyond that, and has become an ideological, and in fact religious debate.  

It's not unlike this whole recent flap over Darwinism versus intelligent design. The notion of intelligent design did not have any religious origins, but rather was a response by certain scientists to the gross deficiencies in classical Darwinism and the lack of supporting data thereof. However, any calm, logical debate on the subject has been made virtually impossible due to certain groups having turned the whole thing into some sort of major  religious issue, which it was not before but certainly now has become.

So, we should be prepared for more of the same. I guarantee that it will get sillier as time goes on.  

Science means that you use scientific principles and observable, testable mechanisms to explain natural phenomena. Intelligent design requires an unknown intelligent designer that can't be studied scientifically. Throughout the millenia people attributed phenomena they couldn't explain to spiritual causes, from volcanoes to mental illness. I.D. is not a scientific theory.
Strictly speaking, you are correct. But I think the thing that is not fully realized is that classical Darwinism has many fundamental flaws and is extremely weak in explaining certain things. The alternative is not necessarily Creationism, or Intelligent Design, a term which has been totally distorted by the current highly publicized court case. This is NOT the Scopes Monkey Trial Part II!

I am not a proponent of Intelligent Design, but by the same token I have also come to a reasoned and well-thought-out conclusion, based on extensive readings,  that classical Darwinism is as  far removed from empirically proven science as is Creationism.  Classical Darwinism, particularly when it comes to explaining the clear divisions in the animal kindom, has virtually no roots in empiricism. The fossil record is almost totally devoid of true transitional species.  Something is radically wrong with this theory. Darwin's theory of evolution isn't even in the same ball park, in terms of verifiability, as say Newton's theory of motion. Yet, that's the way it is being taught.

Now, the fact that Darwinism may be wrong does not automatically lead to an acceptance of Intelligent Design. I for one have a pet theory that there might be something wrong with the very concept of randomness, but that is another subject.

In a roundabout way, what I am saying is that for something to be wrong does not automatically mean that it's opposite is right. There can be a third expanation that we are not aware of.

In short, Darwinism is ultimately as much a matter of faith as traditional religion.  And yet, its proponents have succeeded in presenting it as rigorously proven science for decades and decades, and in casting aspersions upon the supposedly irrational character of religious faith on that basis.

We've all been had, folks.

Wow, look at what my Darwinist "faith" did:

created hominid fossils  out of thin air!

Right, so when people propose alternatives that can involve scientific investigation, this is science. The problem is the leap to what I consider religious explanations for voids & contorversies in scientific theory. Darwinian evolution needs to be subject to scientific questioning just like string theory or big bang. We are beyond strictly Darwinian theory. We have punctuated evolution and much more elaborated mechanisms. My Brother in law is working on the extensive tree of life program with many other scientists to trace evolutionary development of life on earth. He finds the evidence, both, DNA, fossil, and comparative anatomy/physiology to be extremely compelling and growing. It is just getting technical and complex enough that you need to be quite sophisticated to grasp it all. This is not my personal crusade, however. I just don't want creationists parading themselves as scientists in my son's classroom.
Joule, it is Theory of Evolution and not Darwinism. Only the Creationists and religious nuts call the Evolutionists "Darwinists". Darwin and Wallace proposed that Natural Selection was the motor that moved and directed Evolution but both had no explanation for genetic diversity (Mendel's Laws were no knew then). After the Mendel's Laws were (re)discovered (no one get attention to an obscure catholic monk's paper at an obscure bothanic scientific magazine), the scientists had the explanation for how genectic variation arises and how natural selection can use it to make all biological diversity that we see.

Evolution is a Scientific Theory, so it is not "only a theory", but a PROVED FACT that have a lot of evidence to prove it. It so much proved as other Scientific Theories, like Heliocentrism (that the religious nuts maybe too want to say that it is "only a theory") and Gravity and Continental Drift. The evidence that there is Evolution is massive: fossils, comparated anatomy, comparated morphology, comparated embriology, comparated biochemistry, comparated physiology, biogeografy, classical genetics (including genetic citology)and at the last 40 years DNA comparation and molecular biology. After 150 years looking for evidence against or for Evolution the scientists never found evidence against Evolution and all evidence say that there is Evolution and Evolution is a fact. However, the religious nuts will point that the scientists are atheists and that they are making a "conspiration"....well, there is a good reason to I think they are nuts.

The evidence is a lot strong that mankind evolved from monkeys and that our nearest cousin is the cimpanze. The religious nuts will say that the fossils prove nothing because they are "monkey" fossils and they will never look at the morphological evidence that the HOMINID fossils are intermediate fossils. If the fossil and anatomical evidence is not enough to you Joule, look at the Human Genome and at the Chinpanze Genome. They were TOTTALLY sequenced by molecular genetics and they show not only a remarkable similiraty, but they show that the same genetic "design" is used to build up both a man and a chinpanze. Basically, there is no notable diference, they have the same genes, the only diference is that some specific genes have a few diferent nucleotides diferent making some specific proteins have from 1 to 4 diferent aminoacids at its composition. The genetic diference is paramountly SUBTIL, it is like a computer program 1.1 and 1.3 versions (the 1.2 version problably were the hominids, but we don't have the fossil hominids genome to compare). It is like humans and chimpanzees difere only at how their genectic make-up was tunned. Evidently the religious nuts will want burn all the genetic molecular evidence, they are prone to burn any book that not repeat what the Bible say....well, I have a good reason to think they are nuts.

By the way the religious nuts will too say that all geological evidence that Earth have 4.6 billion years is a lie. The religious nuts will be happy only when they eliminate all science: Geology (geologists don't find any evidence that a Big Flood happened and say that Earth have 4.6 billion years), Cosmology and Astronomy (they don't like the idea that the Big Bang happened 12 billions years ago) and ever Physic (they want change the speed of light to make sure that the Big Bang happened 6000 years ago...). As I said it, I have good reason to think they are nuts.

There are no "holes" at the Theory of Evolution. As any scientif theory, Evolution is under constant perfectioning. The scientists never will found all explanation to how and why ALL biologic diversity evolved. They never will found all fossils. Not all species genomes will be completelly sequenced. To be true, a lot of species will go extinct beofere any scientist have a chance to see them and describe them. Ever we will have gaps at the scientific knowledge. That happens with Biology and any other science: the astonomers never will found all stars and galaxies, the phisics never will found all elemental particles, the geologists never will have a complete map from the old continents that were formed and destroyed by the continental drift.

But they are GAPS, not HOLES. They happens because science is a human enterprize and humans cannot OBSERVE all facts. It is an observational failure and not a conceptual failure. Because humans cannot observe all facts they cannot explain everything.

If you want explanation to everything some fundamentalist religions are the only way to you. That kind of Religion will say, everytime, to any possible event, "God Did it". Worse, sooner or later they start to say "God Want it". With relation to that there is no diference between the islamic fundamentalists and the cristian fundamentalists. They ever will say "God Did it" or "God Want it". They are the same nuts.

And the price to abandon Science for that kind of fundamentalist religion (that to me is false religion) is to live at the Dark Ages again: no food to everyone, no potable water, no vacines, no TV, no electricity, no anitbiotics, no cars, no machines. Because all that things that make our lives better than the lives of the men that lived at the Middle Ages come directly from Science.

To solve our future problems as Peak Oil and Global Warming we need make our decisions based on facts, scientific facts. Because only Science can give us the correct facts and the possible solutions that make possible to us choice the correct solutions.

So, again I say, who will destroy our civilization isn't the Peak Oil or the Global Warming or the Avian Flu or the Dollar Chrunsh, but the religious fundamentalists (and I am not talking about the islamic nuts that make terrosrists, but about the christian nuts at USA that elected Bush - these ones are the worse menace). We will collapse only if we permit these christian nuts make our choices or force us to make the choices only they think are acceptable, mostly the wrong choices. For sure we know that promote fundamentalist religion at the schools is the wrong choice.

I use the term 'Darwinism' to mean the belief that all the diversity of life and all the major divisions of life have resulted from the process of natural selection operating upon minute random mutations and variations over long periods of time. If you'd prefer, I could call it the classical theory of natural selection, or the classical theory of evolution, or Darwinian evolution.

I don't think that any reasonable person would deny that evolution has taken place and that life has changed over the eons.  The argument is over what physical mechanisms have caused these changes (or are capable of causing such changes), not whether the changes themselves have occured.

As I am an engineer as opposed to a biologist, I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject. However, from what I have read, the classical theory of evolution is on increasingly shaky ground. Furthermore, this fossil record you claim proves everything, actually provides little or no credible evidence of one species gradually transforming into a totally different species, i.e., it is virtually devoid of credible, identifiable transitional species.

Where natural selection as the driving force for evolution really breaks down
is at the molecular biochemical level. The manner in which one biochemical mechanism transforms into a totally different one is often virtually impossible to explain in terms of a series of gradual transitions.  The origin of life is also very difficult to explain by random changes. I would suggest you read some of the work by Michael Behe.  It was a real eye-opener for me.

Furthermore, the transition of a hominid into a modern human is a relatively trivial one, compared to say the transition of a land mammal that breathes through two nostils into a whale that breaths through a hole on top of its head (a most difficult transition for which there is essentially zero evidence in the fossil record). Things get much worse when you look at organs rather than bones. For instance, you might also ask why the very  unique avian respiratory system is morphologically identical in all birds but for which nothing even remotely similiar appears in neither reptiles (which supposedly came before) nor mammals (which supposedly came after).    There are many other examples of real problems with natural selection as the sole driving force for evolution.  

But this is a website devoted to peak oil, not evolution, so I will not belabor it further. My only point in bringing up Intelligent Design was to illustrate how a legitimate skepticism over a certain piece of scientific dogma (I will revert to my initial term, 'Darwinism' here) has been transformed by certain people into a religious dogma, i.e. Creationism, and that the same thing appears to be happening with this whole abiotic oil issue.

I fully agree with you that religious fundamentalism is the enemy of objective scientific thought and that many people use religion to advance their own persona agenda.

I was waiting for that reference to Behe. He is a crank. See latest issue of New Yorker.
Joule, I am a biologist and I can say something about Michael Behe. He is not only a cranck but too an idiot. The Dover Trial proved it. The better you can do it is stop to read Michael Behe and go look for REAL scientists books. Mostly because that will teach to you one or two things about real Science and correct some batlant mistakes you made at your post.

"Furthermore, this fossil record you claim proves everything, actually provides little or no credible evidence of one species gradually transforming into a totally different species, i.e., it is virtually devoid of credible, identifiable transitional species." Sorry engineer, you are plain wrong here. The fossil record provide credible evidence about transition groups and there are a good deal of credible identifiable species.

One good example is the ample evidence that the fossil record give us about the cetacean evolution. When you said "[...]the transition of a land mammal that breathes through two nostils into a whale that breaths through a hole on top of its head (a most difficult transition for which there is essentially zero evidence in the fossil record)" I know you quoted Behe directly here and both you and Behe showed that both not only know nothing about biology but too know nothing about fossil record. There are a good deal of transitional fossils showing the transition of a land mammal to the cetaceans we see today. There is no only the fossils from the land mammal that started the evolutionary history of the cetaceans, but intermediate fossils that show how the cetaceans lost the posterior members (modern cetaceans have only the anterior members and the posterior members are a vestigial femur, but there are beautifull fossils that were discovered at the Sahara desert that show "whales" with both the anterior and posterior members).

And about the avian evolution you made a mistake that again show you know nothing about biology and evolution. I guess that again you get "[...]the very  unique avian respiratory system is morphologically identical in all birds but for which nothing even remotely similiar appears in neither reptiles (which supposedly came before) nor mammals (which supposedly came after)" from Behe. Birds and mammals evolved both from reptiles, but mammals evolved from reptiles first, the birds evolved from the more evolved dinossaurs at the Cretaceous. Mammals evolved from primitive reptiles at the Triassic. Other primitive reptiles evolved to dinossaurs at the Triassic and the dinossaurs dominated the Earth all Jurassic and Cretaceous. Our mammals ancerstors had no chance while the dinossaurs dominated, but they rapidly radiated to dominate our world after that asteroid killed the dinossaurs. The sad truth is that the mammals evolved at the same time the dinossaurs evolved from primitive reptiles and the dinossaurs had a better "design", so they dominated. It is no mistery that birds have a better respiratory system than mammals, because birds evolved from more evolved dinossaurs and not from primitive reptiles. The mammal "design" is a more relativelly primitive one comparated to the dinossaur "design" that the birds heir.

While I will not say to you how to build a bridge, please stop to say a batlanty stupid thing as "birds evolved from reptiles before the mammals". That is really plain stupid to any biologist. I will repeat my advice here: go read some real scientists books, there are a good deal of biology and evolution books at public libraries if the religious nuts not burned them.

Now, there is a good reasom to relate that Creationism bulshit to the "Snake Oil" Abiotic Oil. Both come from the same guys. If you not noted, Biotic Oil is a problem to "Young Earth" Creationists, because biotic oil need a lot of time to be created and the creationists want that Earth have only 6000 years. All evidence show that crude oil have biogic origin, but the "Young Earth" want sell the Abiotic Oil bullshit and they found a good market now. There are a good quantity of people that want buy "the oil will not end because Earth will abiotically create more", the problem is that it is "snake oil" and no one will see new oil coming from Texas.

The geologists problably can say something about the "Young Earth" bullshit. I am fond of "the Grand Canyon was created by the Flood" bullshit, that is so plain stupid that is fun. But the sad truth is that the Creationists want no only ban bilogy but too geology and if possible too attack astronomy, cosmology and phisics. They plainly don't like Science.

I guess that we will need more Science to solve problems as Peak Oil and not less Science. We certainly will need more Science and more scientists (that "evil atheists" if you believe the "Young Earth" Creationists that are behind an "evil conspiration" if you believe Behe) if you want buy that "Thecnology will solve everything".

My guess is that we will have no new thecnology to save us if the oil peak now or if the oil peak 20 years ahead because we are currently trying destroy Science. I'd say that it is plain stupid....

So, why only Europe and Japan are trying to create the fusion reactor. Helloo! Manhatan Project...Apollo Project... where is the federal government? Oh I forgot, USA is wasting 6 billion/month at a futile war at Middle West. And we know that these wars end like Viet Nam....

I will readily defer to your superior knowledge about biology. I was merely repeaing what I have read. Maybe some of it is right, and maybe some of it is wrong.

However, I remain to be convinced that all this came about solely as the result of natural selection acting upon random mutations and variations.  My gut feel tells me that something else was at work here in driving evolution, but I don't claim to know what that something else is. (As I may have said before, my pet theory is that there is something fundamentally flawed regarding our current concept of randomness, but I have absolutely nothing to back that up, and probably never will.) I think you will have to admit that Darwinian evolution (or whatever you prefer to call it) does not enjoy the same level of verifiability as say Newton's laws of motion, or for that matter, even Einstein's theory of relativity. Darwinian evolution is far more speculative regarding many questions than it's proponents (including you) would care to admit. I think there is a lot of selective reading of the data going on here, and this willful ignorance of anomalous evidence is endemic in our government-funded scientific establishment.  

If you have read my previous posts, there should be no doubt in your mind that I do not espouse any of these 'faith-based' anti-scientific agendas. I am not a Creationist and  have been  actively engaged as an environmental consultant for over 30 years, so I think I know a little about analyzing objective evidence.  Unlike what you claim Behe to be, I can hardly be described as a 'crank' (i.e, anybody who doesn't agree with one's own line of thought).

This discussion is a perfect example of how inflamed certain issues have become. Which is unfortunate, because the last thing we need is for science and technology to become ideologically polarized.

And yes, it is criminal that we are pissing away $6 billion a month on this Iraq debacle, but that is a whole other issue.  

Joule, you can be surprised if you someday look at the right books and see that the Evolutionary Theory have an advanced mathemathics behind it. Since the Mendel's Genetics was rediscovered at 1900 (and again I repeat that no one give attention to Mendel at 1870 because he was an obscure catholic monk - and it was too bad that the Vatican promoted Mendel to Praga's Bishop... he stoped to make scientific research) the Genetics advanced a lot. A field that had a huge advancement was Population and Evolutionay Genetics. Scientists as Fisher, Wright and Haldane advanced the mathematics that give support to Evolutionay Theory at the 30's, so the Synthethic Theory is from that time period. The thing is that the creationists ever forget to say that the Synthethic Theory is an advanced mathemathical model. [Fisher developed all his statistical models and tests while he developed his evolution mathematical models, guess why he need all that statistical tests...]

The mathemathics behind Evolutionary Genetics are so advanced as the mathemathics behind the Gravity Theory. These mathemathical models were used to test natural selection and they showed since 1930's that not only natural selection adn genetic drift exists, but both are measurable and previsible as the planet's movement.

A good point to you remember is that 150 years of scientific advancement is important. The biology don't stoped at 1859 when Darwin published "The Origin of Species by Natural Selection" and the biologists aren't making the same descriptive analysis that we made at the 19th century. So, it is basically offensive say we are Darwinists. The point is that the creationists like to be offensive, they despise science and everytime you use the term Darwinism you show that you too despise science, engineer.

Certainly the biologists advanced some complex mathemathical models to measure Evolution and biology isn't a second cathegory science. Mostly because now the biology know how the DNA work and we are developing the skills and the tools for "engineer" biological beings. Can an engineer create a life being? Currently the molecular biologists have almost the knowledge to create bacteria...they certainly can change biological beings at their desire now and we will not see too much time before they can create life forms... let's see what "bridges" we can engineer at the next years.

Sorry, but the biologists had 150 years to perfect the Theory of Evolution. We made notable progress at the last 150 years and a result from this progress is that Natural Selection and Genetic Drift and Mutational Pressure are phenomena that not only are proved but have an advanced mathemathical description. My advice here is look for some book about Populational and Evolutionary Genetics, maybe you will learn something important. Certainly you will learn something better than you will learn reading Behe.

Not a biologist either, but a scientist. I read many books on the subject of evolution. A short one which was terrific was Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. I highly recommend it.

I think one of the reasons why evolution seems so impossible is because we humans have difficulty conceptualizing time periods longer than 100 years. What does 10,000 years entail? How many animals can come and go in one hundered thousand years? What about one million years! Can we even get our heads around the number of animals that struggled for survival, that came and went, and the selective pressures over one million years? 10 million years? 100 million years? The diversity and complexity of life today might not seem so amazing if we could really grasp those vast lengths of time and the numbers of organisms that came and went. Indeed, one might even conclude that evolution is horribly slow, aimless, meandering, cruel, inefficient, with vast numbers of evolutionary dead ends and extinctions. Perhaps this could even be proof there is no intelligent designer guiding things along.


Completely off the topic of peak oil, but important nontheless, is your comment on randomness. As a layperson who has studied quantum physics, I find that the idea of "randomness" is indeed in need of questioning.

Quantum effects are said to be "random", ie the scientists observing them cannot predict the outcomes of quantum events. They can predict the probability that an event will have a certain outcome, but they cannot make a definite prediction of the outcome, as can be done on non-quantum scales. Because we are unable to predict the oucomes of events using modern scientific modes of thinking, we call quantum events random.

The fundemental building blocks of reality are quantum. Whether an elecron is found in one location or another has an effect on how a molecule will interact with other molecules, which in turn has an effect on the process of evolution. We say that the placement of an electron is "random" (or at least has a random aspect), but all that is saying is that we cannot predict where it will be.

What if instead of randomness, there were laws that we are unable to access within our current modes of scientific thinking that could account for the suppossed randomness of quantum events? If you believe in God, this is the perfect point for God to step in to affect evolution. If you do not want to look to God, what about the law of karma (cause and effect on a different level)?

I am a firm believer in the scientific method. Yet seeing through the randomness of the quanta calls for science to step to a new level. I don't have answers on how to do this, but I have questions, and an urge to explore them.

We say that the placement of an electron is "random" (or at least has a random aspect), but all that is saying is that we cannot predict where it will be.

Understand that you confess to being a lay person in this field. I'm no expert, but this one sentence above flags out a lack of understanding.
Under modern thinking, an electron is not a solid particle (like a billard ball) that is "placed" in one location or another. Instead, think of it as a distributed cloud, where that cloud has differnt probability densities at each of its potential locations. That is sort of what Shroedenger's equation is about. That is sort of what Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is about. An example of quantum physics applied to the electron is the "FLASH" memory cards in your cell phone, computer, etc. During programming of a flash memory cell, some fraction of available electrons "tunnel" through the ultra thin gate oxide and magically appear on the other side of the oxide barrier. The barrier is so thin that quantum mechanical effects come into play, namely tunneling.
Right. The "distributed cloud" is viewed as a mass of probabilities in the equations and the scientific thinking. We cannot see into these probabilities, only guess (educated guess) at probable outcomes. There is plenty of room for unknown forces to be affecting these probablilities.
Great post, Joao:

You've probably seent his before, but this guy has one of the best sites I've seen about evolution, including much on Cetacean evolution; evolution vs creationism; religion vs science.

He also acknowledges peak oil:


"He also acknowledges peak oil"

Have not found his peak oil article yet. Thanks for the general link.

This post of his goes into explaining why people congregate around one belief system or another (examples would be Peakists versus anti-Peakists, or big enders versus little enders--interesting ideas).

I for one do not understand why people get so bent out of shape over evolution. Is it because we humans are an accidental freak creation of random development and we don't like the notion of being freaks of nature? Well guess what, neither does the penguin, having to walk around in a tuxedo all day!

I am sure that the same "Christian Talibans" that defend the Inteligent Design pseudoscience defend the Abiotic Oil crap.

IMHO, our civilization will not end because we will run out oil. Our civilization will end because our "elites" made the wrong decisions to solve our current problems. Wrong decisions that will make our energy problem worse.

Go read "Collapse". The reason why some civilizations die while other civilizations survive is because the civilization's "elites" made the wrong decisions.

I'm not a geologist either. But I do live in California. (And I stayed at one of them smart people motels one time.)

Every once in a while, we left-coast liberal kooks feel vibrations. We call them "earthquakes".

They support our crazy, irreligious belief that the Intelligent Designer (blessed be his name) placed our part of the human herd on a set of thin pie crusts called tectonic plates. The plates float on this molten ball of iron, called magma. Every once in a while the plates collide and we get these unpleasant "vibrations". Now if there is a creamy donut nogut inside that magma ball that holds an infinite amount of methane (CH4) for us and constantly churns out more petroleum for us, then clearly the Intellegent Designer has been looking out for our good. The earthquakes, tsunamis, bird flus, mass exterminations; those are not His doings. Some other dude is doing them bad things. We will always have oil. We will always have life immortal.

Oil and Earthquakes: connecting the dots

Is there a connection between oil and earthquakes?
We report, you decide:

Applying the KISS rule, I go back to something a guy named "J" said at the original site: "Follow the money..."

There are how many rigs drilling for abiotic oil?
How many abiotic wells in production?
How many companies prospecting using abiotic methodology?

No person or corporation spends billions of dollars on technology that doesn't work or produce results. Once a technology is mature and well established, improvements and alternatives with lower costs begin to surface in response to demand for additional features and benefits.

Nowhere will you find millions being spent on abiotic oil - so that is a dead horse. I personally would love for us to simply ignore this Corsi idiot. This is evolution at work - he and those foolish enough to follow him will simply be standing there with their shorts around their ankles in a few years, freezing their bums off...

You (and others before you) don't need to get angry and call ugly names to other people.
Simply, Peak Oil as very litle to do with the Biotic/Abiotic debate. Looking at the well known discoveries graph we understand that there's a serious problem coming, the inability to increase production. In this forum we are discussing depletion, not the origin of Oil - because that's what matters.
I would like that Mr Corsi and the other abiotic folks persue their investigation, only to show that Peak Oil is inevitable, no matter what the source of Oil may be.
To amplify on my previous post: religious ideologues have a nasty habit of hijacking a certain concept or issue and incorporate it into their personal agenda.

 While this is a site concerning peak oil and not evolution, it is nonetheless worthwhile taking a quick look at what happened regarding so-called Intelligent Design (notice that I capitalized the term, as if it were a religion).  During the 1980s and 1990s an increasing number of biologists, particularly microbiologists like Michael Behe, began to realize that there are some serious problems with classical Darwinism.  This is not the time or place to get into the particulars, but the problems inherent in Darwinism  are so great that many reasonable people came to the scientific conclusion that it no longer was a good explanation as to how life came about and why we have such an incredible variety of life. At this point, religion was nowhere involved.

Then, fairly recently a bunch of neo-conservative fundamentalist Christians latched onto the general idea of intelligent design and conflated it into their own narrow view of Biblical Creationism. Their success in hijacking this concept has been so successful that nowadays the general public makes absolutely no distinction between Intelligent Design and Biblical Creationism. The terms are now used interchangably, which is completely incorrect.

I'm afraid the same thing is happening regarding the abiotic oil question. I also disagree with the notion that if we ignore these people, they will go away. They won't. They want to manipulate the issue to the point where 'good Christian patriotic Americans' believe in abundant abiotic oil, whereas godless, leftist, anti-American Greenies believe in peak oil.

As my favorite curmudgeon, H.L. Mencken, once said, "Nothing is as durable as a bad idea."

" I also disagree with the notion that if we ignore these people, they will go away."

I agree completely with this statement. Kerry thought if he ignored the Swift-boaters, they would go away. They won't. And it is very important to defeat revisionist history and anti-science trends. Abiotic oil and peak oil are but two of the hundred fronts being waged in this debate. Sorry for the melodrama, but there is IMHO much more at stake than peak oil (as if that weren't enough). The very question of the viability of a democracy is at stake. If a large electorate can be decieved and misguided by 30-second sound-bite arguments; if an electorate does not take the time to learn about complex issues; and if clear articulate analyses of complex issues are not available, then what chance does a democracy have? Then what is the point of free speech?

TOD has done a terrific job in clarifying and analyzing oil issues. It is the patriotic duty of all of us to speak out; to engage; to sometimes step outside our own ideological comfort zone; and most importantly to take on falsehoods and mis-information.

I have personally engaged in several heated debates about PO - and I don't particulary enjoy heated debates. I don't necessarily win, but I have shaken the 100% convictions down to 80%. That is enough of a triumph for one debate.

I would really like to see a comprehensive point by point destruction of the abiotic oil theory. Perhaps there exists one and someone could point me to it. I have seen several points debunked here and there, but not a comprehensive work that I can point people to.

I guess that I think these fanatics may not be having as big an effect as it appears.  I regard them essentially as symptoms, not causes.  Symptoms of the gullibility and ignorance (often willful ignorance) of the population in general.  The people who fall for the abiotic oil diversions are looking for reasons not to believe there is a problem, just as with those who believe technology alone will fix it without them having to do anything.  This is what they want to believe, and somehow a lot of folks have no problem believing things just because they WANT them to be true.  Evidence and facts do not matter to them.  I'm not expecting much from my fellow citizens, and I mostly think it does not matter what specific thing they latch onto - if it isn't that it will be something else.   The only thing that will have an impact is when the wolf is at THEIR door, until then they will do what ever it takes to ignore the situation.
Ahh, let's step back for a moment and take a big, deep breath. The abiotic oil theory - at least in some form - is not going to be systematically eliminated. That would require proving that no oil ever extracted, or ever to be extracted, is of abiotic origin. The isotope-ratio measurements are too noisy, and the chains of deductive reasoning too tenuous, to make it possible to prove such a negative beyond all doubt. In the end, the oil came from wherever it came from.

As 'lads' and others have reminded us, the important questions are availability and flow rate. The abiotic concept seems to have produced ideas about where to drill for oil, but the ideas seem not to be fruitful if one wishes to have oil in quantity.

Of course, this does enable a person to sit back and wait for the fruit to appear Real Soon Now. It's really more of a social question than a scientific one, and has to be addressed as such.

As a primarily social question, of course, it tends to generate more heat than light, as we have seen here. One can never prove that the fruit - oil in quantity - won't appear Real Soon Now - one can really only ask whether that's a dangerous, imprudent approach.

NASA scientists have also found alcohol compounds in gas clouds where stars are being formed. The amount of alcohol is estimated at weighing many times more than the Earth. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. Stars create carbon and other elements in very small quantities (compared to the mass of a star). Is it any wonder that hydrogen combines with other elements throughout the galaxies and star systems? Methane is a very simple carbon compound that is stable. I am sure that there are many types of carbon compounds that are created during the formation and destruction of stellar systems, but I wouldn't want to say that every single drop of hydrocarbon compounds ever discovered on Earth was the result of abiotic oil theory. Over the 4.6 billion year life of the Earth, the orginal carbon compounds that the Earth captured would have been broken down and chemically reacted with nearly anything that was chemically possible so no trace would exist of them.
You mean the alcohol was also crated here for our enjoyment by the Supreme Being?  Wow, what a cool planet!
   Ethyl Alcohol molecules were found in the gas clouds in interstellar space over thirty years ago. The NASA "discovery" isn't new.
What happens when a US president allows "abiotic oil" rhetoric to inform foreign and energy policies?  Sounds impossible right?  Right? Someone tell me it can't happen...
hhieslmair asked for a point-by-point refutation of abiotic oil.  Richard Heinberg did a nice piece in Sept 04, to which I refer people: .

I'm puzzled why World Net Daily (WND) and Free Market News Network are touting abiotic oil. The only other places I've seen abiotic oil pushed is on some odd far-left websites.  

What all these sites seem to have in common is a love for conspiracy theories.  

I don't think it's a left/right thing. I think it's more noise than anything serious ... unless a demagogue gets hold of the idea.  But as it is now, no party or interest group seems to be interested.

Take a look at the Jaunary oil futures in the monthly chart on the sidebar. Its showing oil will be FREE. I guess we will be finding the missing abioatic oil in January.