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Here’s a letter that I sent a couple of days ago to the Washington Times.

22 September 2007

Editor, The Washington Times

To the Editor:

Carl Henn makes two astonishing claims (Letters, Sept. 22).  The first is that “our fuel of choice oil runs out at exactly the rate we use it.”

According to MIT’s M.A. Adelman, “At the end of 1970, non-opec countries had about 200 billion remaining in proved reserves.  In the next 33 years, those countries produced 460 billion barrels and now have 209 billion ‘remaining.’ The producers kept using up their inventory, at a rate of about seven percent per year, and then replacing it.”  Over the same time period, proved reserves in opec countries have nearly doubled from 412 billion barrels to 819 barrels.  [From Adelman, “The Real Oil Problem,” Regulation, Spring 2004.  Available here.]

Clearly, we don’t run out of oil “at the exact rate we use it.”

Second, Mr. Henn avers that cars aren’t important because “our country somehow got along without them for more than 200 years.”  Well, yes – and Americans in the past also “got along” without refrigeration, indoor plumbing, and antibiotics. Is Mr. Henn content to “get along” also without these things?

Donald J. Boudreaux