Bet 726

Duration 19 years (02016-02035)

“The amount of geologically-derived crude oil consumed by the United States in 2035 will be greater than the amount consumed in 2015.”

Joseph F. Huttner


Huttner's Argument

My belief that the amount of geologically-derived crude oil consumed by the United States in 2035 will be greater than the amount consumed in 2015 is based on four primary factors:

1) The overall population of the United States will continue to increase, largely as a result of immigration. More people equals more energy consumed. The reasons that this immigration will occur, and why it will be supported by government, are based on the following:

  • Vast expanses of unoccupied land exist that can be easily developed
  • Local governments allow cities to be "rebuilt" larger and higher as demand for space in those cities grows
  • Public and private capital can be easily and cheaply obtained - this capital in part supports investment in new domestic businesses
  • The American political system is based on common law, which is perceived to be generally fair and uncorrupt
  • America is home to the largest pool of skilled labor in the world, largely due to the high quality and tremendous funding of its higher education system
  • Increasing the real wealth of each subsequent generation requires population growth

2) The American electorate is generally unwilling to force themselves to pay more for a given unit of energy than they have to, and geologically-derived crude oil is often the cheapest form of energy available. There is a large and efficient global infrastructure in place to discover, extract, refine, deliver, and utilize geologically-derived crude oil. The sheer size of this infrastructure begets tremendous efficiency ("Any argument against size is an argument against efficiency." -Alfred Sloan). Some of this efficiency is passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices.

Additionally, the profitability of new innovations in the crude oil industry are magnified because they stand atop this large existing infrastructure. Thus, the incentive for profit-seeking individuals to focus on this market as opposed to others is substantial, which leads to still more efficiencies.

3) The solution to credible environmental issues stemming from the burning of fossil fuels is likely to be based on some scientific process which addresses those effects. It is unlikely that these solutions will in any way require that people reduce their overall energy consumption, including their consumption of geologically-derived crude oil.

4) Much of the geologically-derived crude oil for sale in the world comes from countries that have an under-developed economy. On a political level, it is in the interest of wealthier nations to purchase the exports of poorer nations, and that includes their oil - these transactions not only increase wealth for both nations, but they help foster harmony and peace among the peoples of the world.

Due to these factors, I am "long" on this bet.

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