This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
We never did run out of coal. We have substantial proven oil reserves and more being discovered.
The situation is that resources are only finite if you exhaust them, not whether they are physically finite. SO coal is a finite resource in that there can only be so much of it but the practical reality is that it is an infinite resource if we do not exhaust the available accessible supplies.
As time has passed each fuel source has been superseded by another for a variety of practical and market based reasons.
As fuel costs rise, and as the energy usage grows, the conditions arise where exploitation of a new fuel source becomes viable. For example, shale oil is said to become viable at around $70 a barrel. That unlocks huge reserves of that fuel.
The size of the market and the fuel price creates the necessary conditions where it becomes economically viable to develop that new fuel source,
The danger to me is that the current AGW alarmism is driving resources into a dead end street.
It is disrupting the market and my concern is that we have already damaged our future energy availability by delaying so long on new nuclear power stations and new technology.
Nuclear is not the ultimate solution, but the next source is or should be fusion power.
But if all our resources go into wind turbines, and we so tamper with the market that we do not make the progression to a new and virtually unlimited fusion energy, we may not have the necessary market forces to stimulate that transition.
Then we have a problem. Our society will be increasingly limited by "green energy" and growth will be stunted. The problem may well be that we will have to fall back on the unused reserves of coal and oil instead of progressing to nuclear and fusion energy. If that happens then suddenly fossil fuels become a finite resource in reality.
Fossil fuels are our energy working capital and we use them to create markets which generate ever greater energy demands which stimulates the next transition. If we use our fossil fuel capital as income then we are in trouble.
Sorry for replying to an old post, I know it is frowned upon in some circles.
It isn't just the AGW pressures creating markets for renewables. The markets themselves appear to be creating a self fuelling asset bubble ably assisted by investment institutions.
The crude oil price is largely driven by the futures market rather than by any real time shortages in supply. Whilst historically futures were used mainly for the time periods covering physical transportation of resources they have now become a driving force.
The Gulf war saw a risk premium applied to futures, as now China's expansion and instability in the Middle East provides the impetus (though China's primary need is for coal).
Investing heavily in, and promoting renewables, is a winning strategy for large investment banks. Wind power, being unreliable, tends merely to add to cut price power exports at the taxpayers expense. Large governmental programs for renewables on the other hand lead to energy futures rising in general, due to the expense. A long term bull trend leads to increased interest from ii's who are all betting the same way, long.
Of course renewables in general are capital intensive to start up, so someone has to be there to loan the cash. Good for banking in general. Individual governments see higher tax revenues from fuel prices, which leads to them offering subsidies for renewables as, looking at the futures market, energy prices are going to be higher and they'd like to reduce their exposure.
In short little or no net benefit whilst ii's are paid several times over and taxpayers foot the bill.