CHEVRON SPEAKS UP ON ENERGY DEPLETION
By Russell Ray
Major oil companies have traditionally dismissed and downplayed concerns about depletion of the world's recoverable supply of oil.
"Don't worry," I've heard them say. "The world has enough oil to meet demand for another 100 years."
It's a logical response, if you're a big public oil company.
If investors thought depletion was looming, as many experts contend, the value of oil stocks would decline. If that happens, the value of your company plummets and your borrowing power begins to tailspin.
But attitudes are changing. One major oil company has acknowledged the depletion issue and is warning consumers of a forthcoming energy crisis.
Chevron Corp. has launched a bold advertising campaign that clearly suggests the available supply of oil is near depletion and urges the world to find alternatives before it's too late.
Chevron's campaign to raise awareness and promote discussion of oil depletion and potential solutions is impressive. The advertising is eye-opening.
In one giant ad that appeared Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, Chevron states: "It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil. We'll use the next trillion in 30."
Whoa! What a frightening statement.
The end of oil is just 30 years away. How does an industrialized world function without oil? Unless a viable alternative is conceived, it doesn't. That's the point Chevron is trying to make.
In that same ad, Chevron Chairman David J. O'Reilly says the era of easy oil is over and that political, economic and physical barriers are preventing the exploitation of newfound supplies.
Some day the world will run out of oil. No one knows for sure when that day will come. But the fact that Chevron, the nation's second-largest oil company, is using this kind of language in a global campaign indicates that the day may come sooner rather than later.
If Chevron is right, the world will run out of oil within my lifetime and the lifetime of our children.
As O'Reilly puts it: "What we all do next will determine how well we meet the energy needs of the entire world in this century and beyond."
The best thing about Chevron's energy awareness campaign is that you can participate through an innovative Web site at www.willyoujoinus.com. You can read what others are saying about the world's energy problems as well as share your own energy ideas and solutions.
I scanned some of the discussions. The ideas were interesting.
Making ethanol from cellulose, or plant material, was discussed. The U.S. Senate thought that was a good idea, too, and included a provision subsidizing ethanol made from crop waste in the Senate-passed energy bill.
Other ideas center on greater fuel efficiency for automobiles and increased investments in mass transit.
Thank you, Chevron, for having a social conscience.