activist Jerome Corsi claims oil is not a fossil fuel but "a
natural product the Earth generates
Let's take a
brief tour of some claims worthy of tabloid
"Oil is not a fossil fuel!"
What is oil?
A wealth of evidence shows it is a fossil fuel derived from ancient
marine microorganisms. Essentially, oil comes from plankton
fossils that have been covered by sediment at the bottom of bodies of
water. Occasionally in such settings -- when there is no oxygen
around and the temperature stays between about 120 and 210 degrees for
up to a couple of million years -- these fossils become heated into
never heard of Corsi, so I can't be hampered by any political
prejudice against or for him.
will point out is the strong emphasis by Sir Robert Robinson PRS, a
giant of organic chemistry (insofar as there were any outside Germany
in his day ;-) : the chemical composition of oil is very
difficult to reconcile with the idea that it is decomposed organisms.
physical scientists have heard of Hoyle, and most of them probably
have heard of the less famous but more consistent Bondi; well the
other member of their triad of very bright lads @ Cambridge was Gold,
who died 2004 but not before a distinguished career as prof of
physics, Cornell - see that institution's obit
http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/June04/Thomas_Gold_obit.hrs.html, and an outline of his successes in propounding heterodox
Gold's U.S.G.S. Professional Paper
1570, IMHO a tour de force in marshalling facts and reasoning
scientifically from them, propounds two connected but
(1) methane in the Earth's crust is mainly primordial, not
'popular' version was the later ppbk 'The
Deep Hot Biosphere'.
(2) some of it is converted to petroleum as it seeps
upwards thru rock-dweliing microbes 10^1 km deep.
estimated that the carbon in the biosphere is approximately accounted
for by simply extrapolating the recent rate of emergence of methane at
the surface in phenomena called mud volcanoes. He pointed out
that 8 - 10 km wells in many places have struck huge lodes of
methane. I believe hypothesis (1) is very plausible. It
underwent a very stringent test at Gold's instigation -
giving you some idea of how good a scientist he was, he provoked the
expensive drilling to 8 km in the Siljan Shield, a granite monolith in
Sweden not suspected of containing fossil anything. Methane was
struck - but to learn how much takes one into a fog of
PR. If anyone has a reliable scientific source on that, I'd be
particularly grateful; I hav e come across everything from
'astronomical' to 'negligible'.
some geothermal brines contain quite a lot of methane, &/or CO2 -
greenhouse gases which get released into the atmosphere when these
brines are exploited for their heat (usu in steam turbines to generate
electricity). Geothermal is therefore not, in general, much
superior to fuel-fired generation.
this list judge ideas by the apparent political position of their
proponents. I conspue that approach. The reliability of
USGS 1570 is scarcely affected by Gold's political values (which are
unknown to me) - or by those of Corsi, whoever he may be.
Word may or may not have emanated from Castro about Gold's theory;
meanwhile, please judge it on the science, not politics.
reading is that the deep primordial gas theory is highly plausible.
Oil biosynthesised from it relatively recently - idea (2)
- is harder to judge. What exptl tests are proceeding (as
distinct from political snipings)?
Gold's idea (1) is right, then we are heading into a period of a
century or so of oversupply of natural gas, which on the record so far
will not be wisely managed. Those who can afford to drill the 8
- 10 km wells will presumably use it directly as an industrial fuel,
and for electricity, and for CNG, the cleanest vehicle fuel (in which
NZ was for a period a world leader). What it will not readily
provide is the lubricants which, more than fuels, are needed for a
Gold's idea (2) is right, that won't make nearly so much difference to
our future. Oil will still be extracted from the types of rocks
where we have always found it, and production will decline very soon.
But the gas glut will affect design & operation of refineries.