Letter in Oregon Geology

Robert G. Russell
Metals exploration geologist
Coeur d/Alene, Idaho

GeoDestinies comes at the reader like a steamroller with facts, data, logic, and a lot of old-fashioned horse sense to examine the relationship of mineral resources to the destinies of host nations. Youngquist does not pretend the relationship is absolute, but he makes a good case with example after example of nations that have emerged to prominence and power when the mineral resources they controlled became appropriate to the technology of the day -- and then faded when those mineral resources became depleted. With no mineral resource is this more clearly demonstrated than with petroleum.

Youngquist, a veteran of _The_Oil_Patch_, speaks with authority of the most critical mineral resource of our day. It is clearly appropriate to call this _The_Petroleum_Interval_, in contrast to the Iran Age or the Bronze Age, in that this interval began about a hundred years ago and won't last more than another hundred. There's a good reason: We're clearly running out of the stuff. He explains in some detail why there's no more to be found.

The book treats with the oil-generated affluence of the nations of the Persian Gulf and with our own affluence; but however fascinating it gets, there is the feeling that there is the _Skull_Looking_in_at_the_Banquet_. About the year 2007, this planet's ability to produce oil will have peaked and begun a nosedive that will not be reversed. At the same time there will be an increasingly sophisticated demand for greater production by a population that is growing at an exponential rate.

Youngquist meets head-on the inevitable suggestion that the depletion of resources, be they petroleum or groundwater or copper, be resolved by exploiting ever lower grade deposits. This proposed solution withers rather readily when confronted with the mathematical proof that such exploitation rapidly creates a negative return. You put more into the ground than you get out.

It's not a pretty picture, and you might not read this thing just for the funt of it, but you can't put it down, either. It makes too much sense, scary sense.

Oregon Geology
Vol. 60 no. 2, pp. 45-46
March/April 1998