The original amount of potentially recoverable oil in the earth's crust is estimated to have been about 2 trillion barrels (not counting tar sands), of which 1 trillion, half the original amount, has already been produced. And oil demand is rising rapidly as large nations such as China and India industrialize. The discovery of new oil fields has declined despite significant improvements in exploration science and technology. Oil discoveries have declined steadily from about 470 billion barrels between 1950 and 1960 to 110 billion barrels between 1990 and 2000.7 Rather than increasing discoveries, better technology has mostly served to reveal that there aren't many new oil fields left to be found.
Oil production tends to accelerate until about half the oil is drained from oil fields; from that point onward, oil is produced more slowly and more expensively. No one disputes that there will be serious repercussions as global oil production peaks and begins to decline. The federal government and 44 states now offer financial incentives to encourage industry and homeowners to increase their use of alternative energy sources. And manufacturers of major electrical appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and water heaters have increased the efficiencies of their products.
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