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Debate: Will the Earth run out of coal?

Written by dee32693 on October 24, 2010
Today I had the fortune of being able to talk to my friend whom I haven't seen/heard from in a while. After our usual banter and such we happened upon the topic of mining, and I told him that the buckwheel or whatever won't matter because we'll eventually run out of coal/oil. He replied that coal/oil will never run out which sparked this debate c/ped WORD FOR WORD

NOTE: Hour long chat ahead.

The Debate

Dee says (5:47 PM):
*still ew D: IF ONLY WE WERE 2000 AHEAD IN TECHNOLOGICAL ACHIEVEMENTS! maybe then someone would find out about better resources
*even though by then theyd probably have to

Craig says (5:48 PM):
*i cant imagion it
*there will always be mining regardless of the amounts

Dee says (5:51 PM):
*there cant always be mining
*eventually wed have to run out
*and at the rate we're going

Craig says (5:51 PM):

Dee says (5:52 PM):
*i cant see mining beng useful at all by that time

Craig says (5:52 PM):
*there will alwayssss be mining
*the world couldn't live without it

Dee says (5:52 PM):
*but there still can be always. o.o its nnot gonna be int eh next 200 years but we ARE going to run out and no matter how deep we dig there wont be anymore. so

Craig says (5:53 PM):
*there willbe more forming

Dee says (5:53 PM):
*it takes forever for more to form! o-o

Craig says (5:53 PM):
*itll be forever till we run out
Dee says (5:54 PM):
*pfft that isnt possible. we're using it at probably mroe than 10000x it regenerates
*even when it starts regenerating there wont be enough

Craig says (5:54 PM):
*we dump out
*alot more
*then what we should be
*and global warming

Craig says (5:55 PM):
*acts like a pressure cooker

Dee says (5:55 PM):
* warming cant make up for what we use or throw away
Craig says (5:55 PM):
*yeh it can
*by the time we run out
*the old stuff will just be forming

Craig says (5:56 PM):
*its like a cycle
*uranium will be the only one that will truely run out completely

Dee says (5:57 PM):
*dont think thats possble. we'll need more than can form. and when we run out it will be because htere just isnt nough. the population of the world is growing
*the demand will be higher
*and there jsut wont be enough

Craig says (5:57 PM):
*polulation has a carrying capacity
*before 2050 we will reach it

Dee says (5:58 PM):
*im telling you dude. we're gonna be screwed xD

Craig says (5:58 PM):
*nah im telling you were not

Dee says (5:58 PM):
*what im saying has been backed up by geologists and hte like D:

Craig says (5:59 PM):
*population has a carrying capacity
*within 50 years
*the world will be too poor

Craig says (6:00 PM):
*more people will die becuase of malnutrition
*more deaths then births
*till it evens out
*not so far away from where we are now

Dee says (6:00 PM):
*LOL unless massive genocide happens i thnk tit would take centuries for the birth and death rate to even out properly

Craig says (6:01 PM):
*regardless the point being u cant have an infinite population
*we will always have enough
*uranium being the exeption

Craig says (6:02 PM):
*when uranium runs out its gone for good
*well it can be recycled but no goverment wants to do that
*waste of time

Dee says (6:02 PM):
*the world still uses too much and it takes too long to regenerate. there is NO possible way unless enough people use a different kind of source

Craig says (6:03 PM):
*doesn't matter how long it takes
*its like a petrol station
*it never runs out of fuel because more always comes tomorrow every single day
*ever day there is more oil and coal forming
*and then there is still the millions and billions of it uner the oceans

Dee says (6:04 PM):
*pfft barely! the coal and oil that forms in one day isnt enough to support even a small town

Craig says (6:05 PM):
*it is enough
*because what we go throw in 1 day
*forms in 1 day
*in the future

Craig says (6:06 PM):
*and we will have enough to finish the cycle for the first set to be regenerated
*trust me we learn about this shit at uni

Dee says (6:06 PM):
*in the future being hte whole point. we would still use it too fast. what forms in 2 weeks we've already used that and more and one
*in one*

Craig says (6:06 PM):

Craig says (6:07 PM):
*the goverment lies
*like how they said 3 mile island was nothing
*and the exact same about chenobal
*we got more than enough coal

Dee says (6:07 PM):
*see but htats just it, the government is saying it CAN continue on. the oil/coal industries agreeing. its the scientists that are saying otherwise
*plsu the government lies about everyhting

Craig says (6:08 PM):
*nah trust me we can
*oil/coal will last forever
*with its formation rates

Craig says (6:09 PM):
*scientists say that kinda thing but proving its a completely different story
*its like
*back when they thought the world was flat
*or that pressure was proportional to mass

Craig says (6:10 PM):
*everythings only good till 1 person proves you wrong

Dee says (6:10 PM):
*yeah but what evidence does hte gov and industries have also? both of hte sides evidences our sort of the same in terms of being proven true or not
Dee says (6:11 PM):
*the only real thing we can do is wait and see and hope for the worlds sake that the scientists are wrong or we've already found some other form of energy

Craig says (6:11 PM):
*we have already got so many other forms of energy
*solar, hydrogen
*we got a hydrogen car at uni

Dee says (6:12 PM):
*yeah but its not used majority wise
*so the good these thigns are doing
*arent enoguh cause hte rest of the world
*still operates without it

Craig says (6:12 PM):
*cause we dont need them
Dee says (6:12 PM):
*agh this is going in circles

Craig says (6:12 PM):
*cause ur brains not smart enough to visualise it

Dee says (6:12 PM):
*pffft im visualising the wya it is
*becaus believe im right

Craig says (6:13 PM):
*off what grounds?
*news papers? hear say?

Dee says (6:13 PM):
*who reads newspapers these days!?
*lol jk
*but seriously

Craig says (6:13 PM):

Dee says (6:13 PM):
*no its simple logic

Craig says (6:13 PM):
*its fail logic

Dee says (6:13 PM):
*for however long it takes to form compared to how long it takes us to use it

Craig says (6:13 PM):

Dee says (6:14 PM):
*youre jsut mad cause you suck and in a thousand years or so im gonan be right
*cause we WILL RUN OUT

Craig says (6:14 PM):
*no i think we both know im smarter and im right u just cant visualise it
Dee says (6:14 PM):
*oops caps

Craig says (6:14 PM):
*cause ur brains to small :]

Dee says (6:14 PM):

Craig says (6:14 PM):
*ur forgetting im in engineering i learn abou tthis, read textbooks do the maths

Dee says (6:14 PM):
*not really. ic an visualize what you say it jsut doesnt make any logical sense

Craig says (6:15 PM):
*cause ur brains to small

Dee says (6:15 PM):
*jsut because youre an engineer doesnt mean anything xD
*it does
*leemme reword that
*it doesnt mean you cant be wrong
Craig says (6:15 PM):
*yeh but
Dee says (6:15 PM):
*thats what i mean
Craig says (6:16 PM):
*an uneducated spanish major trying to teach an engineer his job?
*gl with that :P
*not uneducated
*lemme reword that o.0 less educated

Dee says (6:16 PM):
*aha and see here you are going with personal digs instead of sticking with the facts of what we're both trying to say!

Craig says (6:16 PM):
*no its true tho

Craig says (6:17 PM):
*itd be like me trying to teech my maths teacher logic tables
*i remember when i was young i thought half of 10 was 5.5 and i argued with everyone about it

Dee says (6:17 PM):
*jsut becaus im not in the same field as you doest mean what im sayin has no merit

Craig says (6:18 PM):
*it has merit but ive done the research read textbooks, sat through lectures on it
*theres a bigger picture
*we can put salt underground to form oil faster, the ocean basin is lined with coal and oil, plants/trees/dumps

Craig says (6:19 PM):
*will all be oil
*or coal
*and it wont be all that long before we learn to synthasize it

Dee says (6:19 PM):
*but putting salt on the ground is not a long term solution also going wit when you put salt in the ground it makes land unusuable for planting and such

Dee says (6:20 PM):
*it will be long. logner than we have unless someone suddenly has a breakthrough
*which is always possible

Craig says (6:20 PM):
*no it doesn't o.0

Dee says (6:20 PM):
*no what doesnt?

Craig says (6:20 PM):
*theres patches of salt in the ground bigger then citties

Dee says (6:21 PM):
*never said htere wasnt

Craig says (6:21 PM):
*and it doesn't need to be a long term solution
*u said it makes land unstable
*it doesn't :P

Dee says (6:21 PM):
*unusuable for planting

Craig says (6:21 PM):
*not rly

Dee says (6:21 PM):
*oh really? then why not
*how doesnt it

Craig says (6:22 PM):
*because it gets cassed in rocks
*its like uranium underground doesn't deform babies living above it
*haveing salt in your cuboard doesn't kill ur plants outside
*u dont bury it like a metre under the ground

Dee says (6:23 PM):
*LOl what? thats doesnt really explain to what i was saying

Craig says (6:23 PM):
*u said it makes land unsuitable for planting lol

Dee says (6:23 PM):
*yes i did

Craig says (6:23 PM):
*doesn't in the slightest

Dee says (6:23 PM):
*but yes it does

Craig says (6:24 PM):

Dee says (6:24 PM):
*the more salt you put in the ground hte worse the soil gets and plants start dying/cannot grow

Craig says (6:24 PM):
*its not close enough to the surface to do anything
*saltmines are usually in lush forrests and stuff

Craig says (6:25 PM):
*like the lake peingneur salts

Dee says (6:25 PM):
*so what exactly are you sayign because i can swear youre saying both things. are you gonna put it close to the surface or deeper undergorund

Craig says (6:26 PM):
*no if u put sault on the sutface itll kill stuff sure
*if u eat to much salt itll kill you

Dee says (6:26 PM):
*so deep underground then? is that what youre syaing

Craig says (6:26 PM):
*not deep deep but lik e100m or so yah

Dee says (6:27 PM):
*but even putting it that deep underground, rain and the waters making up the water table would still move the salt around even if a mite slowly and it would get into streams and lakes

Craig says (6:27 PM):

Dee says (6:28 PM):
*so you dont think rain, watter seepage, and hte like would move hte salt?

Craig says (6:28 PM):

Dee says (6:29 PM):
*if all that stuff can move natural salts i bet it can move the salt we put in which would migrate to different places

Craig says (6:29 PM):
*it doesn't move underground salts

Dee says (6:29 PM):

Craig says (6:29 PM):
*have u seen how big the luisianna salt mines are?
*its like millions and millions of cubic metres
*with lush forrests on top of it

Dee says (6:30 PM):
*so then we put salt deeeeeep underground deep enough to mine level and that would speed up earths natural coal/oil makiing processes?

Craig says (6:31 PM):
*salt catches oils
*salt clay or limestone

Dee says (6:32 PM):
*even if that worked, and i dont think ti will but lets say it DOES work, it STILL wouldnt be enough to cover how fast we use it

Craig says (6:33 PM):
*i dont think you realise how much there actually is

Dee says (6:34 PM):
*id otn think you understand how much we use a day, how slow it regenerates and how many more millions of people will be alive and also using those resources int he future

Craig says (6:34 PM):
*i do thats the thing
Dee says (6:34 PM):
*it doesnt sound liek you do

Craig says (6:34 PM):
*theres enough to last till the stuff we
*re using now re-generates

Dee says (6:36 PM):
*its enough for our lifetime. maybe even our childrens childrens lifetimes. but with the longetivity of life extending and natural death rates slowing and birth rates icnreasing, there will be too many people depending on it

Craig says (6:36 PM):
*theres more than that

Dee says (6:36 PM):
*what do you mean by that?

Craig says (6:36 PM):
*coal and oil is extreamly abundant just in places americans wont work yet
*pretty much
*under the ocean

Craig says (6:37 PM):
*there is
*coal everywhere
*the floor of the oceans covered in it
*its to expensive to being it up
*and compete with other coal
*but eventually it wont be

Dee says (6:38 PM):
*even so, i think also that the costs it would tkae to extract such oils would be extremely heavy on everyone be they private parties or the goverment

Craig says (6:38 PM):
*it would be

Craig says (6:39 PM):
*if the world needs it
*u know 30 cents of oil gives the same amount of work as 1 person over 3 lifetimes
*10cents for 10 years work
*pretty sweet deal

Dee says (6:41 PM):
*but the costs of such a thing would rise. it already rose when the people overseas demanded much more money for the oil and that was for political reasons. imagine how much they and other sources would demand if the world was running out. the costs of oila nd coal would be ridiculous

Craig says (6:41 PM):
*itd rise through the roof
*people would be willing to pay

Dee says (6:42 PM):
*who would be willing to apy? when that happens, normal citizens wont be able to afford it. the rich would shell out but theres not enough of them to subsidize the normal people. governments would have to go trillions of dollars into debt to be able to provide for EVERYONE

Craig says (6:42 PM):
*whoevers left

Dee says (6:42 PM):
*and een then it would probably have to be rationed out

Craig says (6:42 PM):
*itd just be expensive

Dee says (6:43 PM):
*expensive is an udnerstatement really

Craig says (6:43 PM):
*30 years ago people wouldn't pay more then 30cents or so for fuel
*now people thing like a dollar is good

Dee says (6:43 PM):
*think of how people were doing a couple years ago

Craig says (6:43 PM):
*people will jsust think its normal

Dee says (6:43 PM):
*when gas was nearing 4 bucks a gallon.

Craig says (6:44 PM):
*people will think its normal

Dee says (6:44 PM):
*even if you think tis normal it still wold be extravangant and to much for the mjority of hte world

Craig says (6:44 PM):
*nah itd still be cheap compared tohuman work

Dee says (6:44 PM):
*and by that you mean?

Craig says (6:45 PM):
*1 cup of oil = 300 years of a humans life in work
*1 cup of oil is 30cents
*even if it was $1 a thing
*itd still be cheap compared to hireing people

Dee says (6:46 PM):
*hiring people for what? this tangent your own, ic ant see hte relevance

Craig says (6:46 PM):
*oil is cheap
*alright say you hired someone to carry you around for a day

Craig says (6:47 PM):
*itd cost you $100 to get as far as $1c fuel

Dee says (6:47 PM):
* one uses that kind of labor. but with the way the economy and job market are going itll come to ti XD
*haha thats a joke

Craig says (6:48 PM):
*our worlds to lazy

Dee says (6:48 PM):
*but seriously, what does that have to do with you saying oil/coal wont run out or we would make more and me saying it will run out and we wouldnt be able to make enough...?

Craig says (6:49 PM):
*i told you how we could then us aid itd be to expensive then i said itd still be cheaper than any other form of work

Dee says (6:50 PM):
*but like ims aying, currently and probably in the future the world RUNS on coal and oil. we NEED to change or we will be screwed
*human labor doesnt have much to do with what ims aying

Craig says (6:51 PM):
*i just tried to tell you how much oil there is under the oceans theres so much itll last us

Dee says (6:52 PM):
*i wont! even when we're forced to sue it, we'd still use it up too fast for the earth tor egenerate it

Craig says (6:52 PM):
*theres so much itll last till the stuff we're using now regenerates

Dee says (6:54 PM):
*it took millions of years for the oil we're going through to be made

Craig says (6:54 PM):
*the worlds 70% oceans

Dee says (6:54 PM):
*water xD

Craig says (6:54 PM):
*and the whole oceans are lines with oil at the bottoms

Craig says (6:55 PM):
*oceans more than water
*u dont find oil in lakes or rivers
*so saying water woulda been counter-productive

Dee says (6:55 PM):
*mm true
*but still
*there wont be enough regenerated by the time we use up the coal
*but with that extra time
*6000 years

Dee says (6:56 PM):
*we're nto THAT stupid
*that we couldnt figure out an alternative reusable resource
*at least i hope humanit isnt

Craig says (6:56 PM):
*oil and coal

Dee says (6:56 PM):

Craig says (6:56 PM):
*at ocean bottom

Dee says (6:56 PM):
*you know what
*we are going to sxay the same things

Dee says (6:57 PM):
*until we're old and shriveled and icky

Craig says (6:57 PM):
*and in 50 years u can come back and say sorry u were wrong ;]

Dee says (6:57 PM):
*pffft ill coe back and laugh at you for how wrong you are :-O


In conclusion

What do you think? Am I right or is he right? Do we both have good points/where did we think wrong?
in my opinion...HES WRONG HES WRONG HES WROOONNGG!!!!!! lolnojk

But seriously what do you think?

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October 24, 2010
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« | 1 | 2 |


Tue Oct 26, 2010 01:56 AM [Edited once ] +

My head hurts from reading that. My god that was bad.

While it is true that oil and coal are sort of renewable, the process takes millions of years. Global warming in no way acts as a pressure cooker that speeds up that process. We do NOT dump out oil and coal, fool (your friend). We dump out carbon dioxide which is a BYPRODUCT and not a reactant. What we do dump out that we CAN reuse again are elements like Sulfur, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Carbon, but we're not taking advantage of this and most of it goes into the atmosphere and the oceans, where some of it will be trapped and would not return to their natural respective cycles. And yes, he's correct about the uranium running out.

Peak oil estimates are 2020 and peak coal estimates are ~2030. After that, it's only going to get harder to extract/mine these sources of energy. We would still deplete every store even if we were to find a completely safe, efficient process of offshore drilling.

About the salt leaching into the soil and making it unusable, it may only be for grasses, since salt mines are found in areas of flora, but I have heard the warnings about putting out salt to melt snow. What's more pressing is desertification, where top layers of land normally reserved for crops turn into dust because there are no roots holding the soil together between growing season.

When he talks about oil getting trapped in sand, clay, etc, if he means the places like the Canadian Oil Sands, extraction from areas like those take a 2:1 energy dump, meaning there needs to be 2 units of energy put in for every 1 unit of energy extracted. It's not sustainable, and I'm not even going to tell you how unclean the extraction process is.

As for malnutrition and the carrying capacity for humans, we've always found ways to increase that for ourselves before. The carrying capacity for homo sapiens used to be 500k. Where are we at now? Almost 7 billion. I'm not saying that we'll find a way to increase our carrying capacity again, but I'm pretty sure that there won't be mass deaths around the world save zombie apocalypse.

I don't remember what else was in the argument; I don't want to read it again. I'll just leave it at this for now.

Mon Nov 01, 2010 07:42 AM +

said: Craig says (6:39 PM):
*if the world needs it
*u know 30 cents of oil gives the same amount of work as 1 person over 3 lifetimes
*10cents for 10 years work
*pretty sweet deal

Damn it, bad math and bad biology and bad-


A) The average person lives longer than ten years.
B) The price of oil varies.
C) If you're talking energy-wise, then I can't be fucked to compare the amount of energy provided by the current 30 cents of oil vs. the amount of ATP generated and used by an average person over the course of 80 years. While what he said might be true (I doubt it), most of the free energy released from the combustion of oil (the way we harness its energy) is released in the form of heat and light entropy, and the point of entropy is that we can't use it for anything. At our current stage, the human body is many times more efficient with its energy than any of our technology is capable of producing. If this guy can find a way to harness 100% of anything's energy and put it to pure work, congratulations, he just broke the second law of thermodynamics. Welcome to high school general science.

Mon Nov 01, 2010 07:44 AM +

And that's not even considering the amount of energy used by humans that ISN'T in the form of ATP. It's a tiny amount, but over the years it adds up.

Mon Nov 01, 2010 07:50 AM +

And by all rights, we should've hit our carrying capacity countless times after the birth of agriculture in like 10,000 BC. We just kept expanding into new enviroments and science-ing the enviroment's shit all over the place.

Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:27 AM +

Zathe, I'm real happy for you, and I'mma let you finish, but you don't need 3 fucking posts to make your point yo.

Mon Nov 01, 2010 09:13 PM +

Dee said: *there cant always be mining
*eventually wed have to run out

Is it just me who took this for another word?

Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:18 PM [Edited once ] +

David said: Exactly, they're skipping the cycle like the U.S. did during that second period of Industrial Revolution.

Which is why China will be > U.S. in 3 or 4 decades. Depending on how the government does. Or maybe Brazil, they're doing pretty good. Japan and U.S. is stagnating.


No. You missed the point. US's existing infrastructure is x% efficient on y scale. Most new green technology can't reach that. It's not yet a viable form of energy because of efficiency or because it can't yet be implemented on a large enough scale. China's x and y variables are effectively 0 in many places, so any form of energy is better than nothing. Mostly, they're going with the cheapest option: coal. They're going through the exact same industrial revolution (albeit quicker because people have already done the work for them) everyone else did simply because that route is the cheapest way to go.

Global interactions is similar to the weather in that you can only go so far out before you lose any semblance of accuracy (this is called Chaos Theory for those of you who've taken Calc 2 and had the opportunity to learn about it). It's far too dependent on the specifics of the initials conditions for there to be any way to make long term predictions. China being ahead of America is a longshot, though; mostly because of the US's education/research setup vs. China. Also, capitalism, despite all of it's negatives, has lots of positives. The one relevant to this discussion is innovation. Free markets push innovation like nothing else. While China certainly has a pseudo-capitalist economy, it's not anywhere near as open as the US's, and that's going to hurt them in the long run unless changes are made.

Edit: Oil to humans is a terrible comparison. Oil is an energy carrier. Humans are not. Still, check out the chemical formula combustion and you'll realize that it's not anywhere near what that dude claims it is. I'd bet a man could match it in under an hour.

Tue Nov 02, 2010 02:05 AM +

I know, but this is according to leading economists, not me. I wouldn't just say that out of bias because I'm Chinese, but based on the theories on a lot of economists out there, they say that China has the potential to surpass the U.S.

Granted, that's why I said two, three, if not 4-5, maybe 6-7 decades. That's a long time for a Government to change. Think about it, China was in the dark for so long, maybe up to Mao, China was still going backwards. It's been only about 5 decades since then, and that's a pretty rapid progression. China has been growing more liberal with its policies recently, although it seems some of their ways of thinking are still backwards - the censoring, etc, represent that huge culture gap.

Anyway, capitalism is still probably the best possible economic theory when put into practice, but China will surpass the United States at this rate. If you look at study after study, you'll see that Asians outperform, much like how the Russians were able to beat the U.S. during the space race. 40-50 years is a long time, and in terms of pure economics terms, China might surpass the U.S. Maybe not de facto, but probably de juro. And no, I'm not using those in legal terms.

Tue Nov 02, 2010 03:22 AM +

Until they stop pulling shit that gives the whole "Made in China" tag its reputation for shoddy material, I can't see China surpassing the U.S.'s economy in a long lasting manner any time soon.

Also, we supply them with their chicken feet. Those Chinos NEED us.

(It's not racist because I'm Asian :D)

Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:54 PM [Edited once ] +

roflmaaaoo you don't know how much i am enjoying how you guys are/were tearing up his ridiculous ideas. i have giggled and chortled in merciless glee and plan to tell him all of what you guys said in order to hopefully see him brought to his knees as he realizes his idiocy. AND IT WILL FEEL GOOD TO SEE HIM GET PWNED SO HARD WAHAHAHAHA [/end happiness at another's misfortune]

also @Dervd and Tartar You and your debating... D:

oh and btw Nass, yes you are hte only one who thought of weed :O



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