Hubbert's Peak, The Coal Question, and Climate Change



Dave Rutledge, Caltech

Date and Time

April 24, 2009 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM



RSVP required by 5PM April 22.


Richard and Rhoda Goldman Conference Room

An accurate estimate of the ultimate production of oil, gas, and coal would be helpful for the ongoing policy discussion on alternatives to fossil fuels and climate change. By ultimate production, we mean total production, past and future. It takes a long time to develop energy infrastructure, and this means it matters whether we have burned 20% of our oil, gas, and coal, or 40%. In modeling climate change, the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the most important factor. The time frame for the climate response is much longer than the time frame for burning fossil fuels, and this means that the total amount burned is more important than the burn rate. Oil, gas, and coal ultimates are traditionally estimated by government geological surveys from measurements of oil and gas reservoirs and coal seams, together with an allowance for future discoveries of oil and gas. We will see that where these estimates can be tested, they tend to be too high, and that more accurate estimates can be made by curve fits to the production history.

Professor Rutledge is the Tomiyasu Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech, and a former Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science there.  He is the author of the textbook Electronics of Radio, published by Cambridge University Press, and the popular microwave computer-aided-design software package Puff.  He is a Fellow of the IEEE, a winner of the IEEE Microwave Prize, and a winner of the Teaching Award of the Associated Students at Caltech.  He served as the editor for the Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, and is a founder of the Wavestream Corporation, a manufacturer of high-power transmitters for satellite uplinks.

This talk is part of the PESD Energy Working Group series.

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