What we call "fossil fuels" are found on half a dozen planets and a dozen moons; they’ve even been discovered on comets and asteroids.
These compounds are replete throughout the Solar System.
One of Saturn’s moons, Titan, possesses hundreds of times more natural gas than all known reserves on Earth. Plant and animal remains aren’t absolutely necessary therefore to produce methane, ethane, bitumen and more, since these materials are synthesized in space inorganically.
Indeed, six years ago incredibly vast quantities of hydrocarbons were detected in the Horsehead Nebula 1,300 light years distant. Could the same processes be at work here on Earth?
This question has garnered the attention of energy authorities around the world for many decades, with notable exception among the scientific community in the United States.
Geologists, market analysts, and government officials of the nation that consumes one fifth of the world’s petroleum output long ago turned thumbs down on the possibility of Earth’s crude oil reserves having been created without living matter as a prerequisite.
Abiotic petroleum — inorganic oil, purportedly occurring naturally and not dependent upon any sort of ancient biological source material — is a heretical lightning rod in the United States. But, it is nonetheless the accepted version for the genesis of the enormous supplies of hydrocarbons on the planet among quite a sizeable swath of respected scientific opinion in Russia, for example, and elsewhere.
It was also, incidentally, a Russian scientist, Dimitri Mendeleev — the genius who fashioned the Periodic Table of Elements — who first formally promulgated the idea in the 1870’s. (Alexander von Humboldt, Prussian mathematician, geographer, and naturalist, deserves mention as well.)
Dismissing the evidence of those who support the theory of abiotic hydrocarbon creation isn’t all that easy. As a matter of fact, among the score of unexplained contradictions concerning the orthodoxical models of biological material being cooked into fossil fuels by geologic heat and pressure are quite a few perplexing inconsistencies that remain unexplained unless abiotic production is considered.
Many Americans are unaware, for example, that oil fields around the world have refilled to a degree on occasion. This is something suggesting the existence of much greater reserves deeper and which on no account could have been created from organic source material from Earth’s surface.
The phenomenon has been noted all over the world, from Oklahoma and the Gulf of Mexico to the Mideast.
Moreover, crude oil’s chemical markers, the likely physics that causes helium and methane always to be found together, the fact that diamonds form from pure carbon at the extreme depths within the upper mantle — all that and many other scientific facts are understood and explained most simply by taking into account the idea of inorganically generated hydrocarbons.
World-renowned physicist Robert Ehrlich, who has written sufficiently on this subject along with weighing other controversial topics from a soberly skeptical point of view, responded to me recently with his two-word opinion of whether abiotic petroleum might be the correct view after all, "quite plausible."
Professor Ehrlich has also pointed out that if a newly revamped estimation of the size of Earth’s petroleum reserves should be expanded a hundred-fold to include perhaps immense new supplies to be tapped at daunting depths, it may serve quite a few interests — including the oil industry itself who profit, as all do in a free market, from scarcity — to spend precious little time, trouble and energy attempting to prove that.
Other even more top-tiered scientists have expressed far more pointed commentary about their extreme lack of confidence in the conventionally accepted tenets of petroleum science.
Sir Fred Hoyle, the Cambridge doyen who coined the term "Big Bang," the formulator of stellar nucleosynthesis (the process by which all the heavier element of the universe are cooked up in the interior of stars), was quite outspoken in his dismissal of crude oil orthodoxy.
"The suggestion that petroleum might have arisen from some transformation of squashed fish or biological detritus," he stated in 1982, "is surely the silliest notion to have been entertained by substantial numbers of persons over an extended period of time."
The calamitous "peak oil" predictions which supposedly doomed humanity to deal with passing an apex of oil production in the 1970s and making do with dwindling supplies thereafter never actually occurred. If anything was learned by that colossal and historic miscalculation it was that surety concerning petroleum is more illusion than reality.
What is probable is that everything that can and should be known with absolute certainly regarding petroleum, methane, asphalt, propane, butane, tar, coal, et al. — isn’t.
There is every "plausibility," using Dr. Ehrlich’s term, that some of these important compounds which thankfully abound on our planet are formed in ways that might involve organic and inorganic source materials, or both.
David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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