A strange report dated February 15th from the European Space Agency, posted by the American neo-conservative news website WorldNetDaily, tells of a massive discovery on one of Saturn’s moons. The deep space probe Cassini, through it’s radar sensors, has discovered massive lakes of methane and ethane on the surface of Titan. Though only one-fifth of the surface has been mapped, what they have found is astonishing.

Dozens of lakes on the moon’s surface contain more hydrocarbons than all of Earth’s reserves of crude oil and natural gas. As the ESA report tells us, just one of these methane lakes has as much energy as all of Earth’s natural gas reserves. Scientists believe that the methane is coming from deep within the moon’s magma layers, erupting from active volcanoes. This was so reported in a NASA press release over 2 ½ years ago.

How is this related to the arguments against the “Peak Oil” theory? And how does this play into a nation’s energy policy conforming to Distributist Thought?

“Peak Oil” theory, in part, holds that oil and natural gas are “biotic” in nature. That is, that they are created by the remains of prehistoric forests and dinosaur remains. The rival theory says that oil and natural gas are “abiotic”, created by vast geological forces of heat and pressure underneath the Earth’s crust.

This discovery by the Cassini probe bolsters the “abiotic” theory of oil’s origin. The lakes of methane are not “biotic” in origin. Since this is so, it is only logical to conclude that Earth’s oil and gas reserves are the same. That is, they are inorganic in nature, dwelling within the Earth’s depths. Hence the world is NOT running out of oil or natural gas. Just last November, Brazil announced it discovered a huge offshore oil field that could yield as much as eight billion barrels of crude oil.

“Peak Oil” theory has been the spur of many scientists and others to create and promote alternatives to oil, coal and natural gas energy. News such as this from both the ESA and Brazil will - unfortunately - not change the minds of those deeply committed to this discredited theory. However, the urgent need to break away from total dependence on an oil/gas/coal energy basis must be encouraged. It should, at the bare minimum, so as to diversify and decentralize the means of energy production to as many as possible.

In Distributist Thought, the means of production and distribution are to be owned and operated by as many as is physically and economically possible. Applied to this facet of a nation’s energy policy, this means there should be many small and mid-sized oil companies competing, especially if they are worker-owned and worker-managed. There would not be the massive private oil giants like ExxonMobil, Gulf or Chevron, or their state-owned counterparts like Mexico’s Pemex, Venezuela’s Citgo or Russia’s Gazprom or Lukoil.

Further, with big government micromanagement off the backs of these small companies, they would have the drive and incentive to create better ways of cheaply extracting oil without harming the environment. They could, if possible, even build mini- and micro-refineries to increase the gasoline and heating oil supply, doing so without compromising safety and nature’s needs. In America alone, her refinery capacity is aging and needs repair and improvement quickly.

These companies, of course, would still compete against other firms promoting local solar and wind power, hydro and geothermal energy, and even alternative power generation discovered by great men like Dr. Nikola Tesla. Conversely, the oil giants would be encouraged to break up into smaller, independent units. And the government, through legislation, would get out of the oil business itself if it is in it already.

Putting all one’s energy “eggs” into one basket, or a few like oil, coal and natural gas, will not guarantee a country’s power grid stability. Only a national policy that protects and promotes local, diversified and decentralized electrical production can insure a safe, clean and stable energy future. Combined with efforts to promote and improve energy conversation, such a policy would be fully in step with Distributist Thought.

Let us all do our part, however small, to see such a policy come to light.


Anonymous,  Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 8:40:00 AM CST  

The thing about Peak Oil is that people are uncertain what the future brings..and so the pascal wager ..if you believe and do something about it,it may relieve the sufferings but if you don't , then what?

Ben Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:35:00 AM CST  

I say we just make users of oil pay externality costs of burning hydrocarbons... that makes solar, wind, etc far more competitive and representative of their actual costs to our health and environment.

We can stop looking to Titan for answers on earth. So simple, yet so so far away from anything I ever expect to happne

Viking Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 8:42:00 PM CST  

Hi all,

B.Y., I think pollution taxes are a great idea. I don't think, however, that Roy meant that we should bring the bounty over from Titan, as you seem to be suggesting, just that Titan was useful in disproving the Peak Oil theory.

But Roy, can we be sure that there weren't/aren't some forms of organism, perhaps quite primitive, that might account for at least part of these fields by biotic fields?


Roy F. Moore Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 11:27:00 PM CST  

Vi, at this point in time, all the current evidence from the Cassini probe indicates no organic origins for the methane and ethane lakes on Titan.

So far, everything indicates abiotic origins.

For further research, I suggest the book "The Deep Hot Biosphere" by the late Dr. Thomas Gold. It promotes the scientific basis for oil/natural gas' abiotic origins, building on 50 years of Russian and Ukrainian research in this area.

Only major flaw with this book is that Dr. Gold didn't acknowledge said Russian and Ukrainian research. Pride got in the way, I guess.

Viking Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 3:49:00 PM CST  

Thanks, Roy, I'll have to check that out.


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