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February 20, 2009

Annotated Bibliography for ENG 215 Research Project

Filed under: Prep @ 6:08 pm

Annotated Bibliography


Carey, J., Holden, D., & Gershkovich, T. (2008, August 4). THE REAL QUESTION: SHOULD OIL BE CHEAP? (Cover story). Business Week, Retrieved February 17, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database. Holden and Gershkovich make a case for a tax policy that initiates a tax on oil anytime the market price falls below a predetermined threshold. This mechanism, their theory states, would keep oil prices at a level sufficient to stimulate investment in alternative energy sources. 

Coons, R. (2008, December 22). Alternative Fuels. (Cover story). Chemical Week, 170(40), 20-21. Retrieved February 18, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database. Rebecca Coons describes the obstacles to alternative energy development presented by an economic downturn coupled with low oil prices. 

Coy, P. (2008, September 15). CHEAPER GAS, CALMER DEBATE. Business Week,
              Retrieved February 17, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database. Mr. Coy presents 

            a correlation between oil prices and public attention towards energy conservation.

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Duncan, R. (2001, May). World Energy Production, Population Growth, and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge. Population & Environment, 22(5), 503-522. Retrieved February 18, 2009, from Business Source Premier database. Dr. Richard C. Duncan presents his Olduvai Theory, which states that the life expectancy of industrial civilization is approximately 100 years. Dr. Duncan basis his theory on global energy production per capita and theorizes global population has a linear relationship with global energy production.

Kieft, T., McCuddy, S., Onstott, T., Davidson, M., Lin, L., Mislowack, B., et al. (2005, September). Geochemically Generated, Energy-Rich Substrates and Indigenous Microorganisms in Deep, Ancient Groundwater. Geomicrobiology Journal, 22(6), 325-335. This report points to studies that indicate that the planetary biosphere extends to depths beyond 3 kilometers. Implications of this finding include the possibility of abiogenic energy sources that are exclusively geochemical and independent from photosynthesis. This report may provide grounds for an argument affirming Dr. Thomas Gold’s abiotic oil theory.

Sanford, J. (2008, October 27). CRUDE AWAKENING. Canadian Business, 81(18), 14-20. Retrieved February 18, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database. Sanford describes a post-carbon society and the market events that could lead up to it. Sanford predicts a general reduction in societal complexity and economic sophistication and a reversal of globalization.

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Tucker, W. (2002, May). Bottomless Oil Wells?. American Spectator, 35(3), 58. Retrieved February 17, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database. Tucker summarizes the theory of Cornell University’s Dr. Thomas Gold. Gold’s highly controversial theory states that oil is formed in an inorganic geologic process.

Whipple, T. (2008, November). Peak oil. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 64(5), 34-37. Retrieved February 17, 2009, doi:10.2968/064005011. Whipple illustrates the contrast between the debate surrounding peak oil and the lack of serious discussion concerning actual global production of oil, which, according to the U.S. Energy Department and the IEA has remained flat since 2005.  


Research Project ENG 215

Filed under: Prep @ 5:31 pm

My Proposal:

Oil is our most precious commodity. It provides fuel for our transportation, heats our homes, powers our factories and, in a very literal sense, puts food on our table. Recent events in the economic realm have driven oil prices down to the lowest prices in twenty-five years. But does the current price of oil reflect the current global oil situation? There are two theories regarding global oil supply. One, that oil is abiotic; in other words, oil is formed from magma and is readily replenished. If this were true and oil were inorganic then there is an endless supply of oil and we will never exhaust its supply and therefore we should expect to see oil prices drop as we develop the technologies required to retrieve the unlimited reservoirs of oil trapped near the earth’s mantle and beyond. The second, and more conventional theory is that oil is organic. This theory states that oil is formed over millions of years as a result of decaying organisms that were buried under layers of sedimentary debris. Were the conventional theory true then our supply of oil is finite and as demand increases and supply decreases we would expect oil prices to increase exponentially as we slide down the supply curve from peak production, hence this theory’s name: Peak Oil.

            Of the two theories this paper will focus on the former. The paper will strive to be informative and it is intended for a general audience. It will seek to explore the ramifications of the Peak Oil theory, specifically; we will investigate the possibility that low oil prices will impair research into alternative fuels setting up the potential for a catastrophic gap in fuel technologies.     

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