World oil and gas 'running out'
By CNN's Graham Jones
LONDON, England -- Global warming will never bring a "doomsday scenario" a team of scientists says -- because oil and gas are running out much faster than thought.
The world's oil reserves are up to 80 percent less than predicted, a team from Sweden's University of Uppsala says. Production levels will peak in about 10 years' time, they say.
"Non-fossil fuels must come in much stronger than it had been hoped," Professor Kjell Alekett told CNN.
Oil production levels will hit their maximum soon after 2010 with gas supplies peaking not long afterwards, the Swedish geologists say.
At that point prices for petrol and other fuels will reach disastrous levels. Earlier studies have predicted oil supplies will not start falling until 2050.
Alekett said that his team had examined data on oil and gas reserves from all over the world and we were "facing a very critical situation globally."
"The thing we are surprised of is that people in general are not aware of the decline in supplies and the extent to which it will affect production.
"The decline of oil and gas will affect the world population more than climate change."
According to the Uppsala team, nightmare predictions of melting ice caps and searing temperatures will never come to pass because the reserves of oil and gas just are not big enough to create that much carbon dioxide (CO2).
Alekett said that as well as there being inflated estimates, some countries in the Middle East had exaggerated the amount of reserves they had.
Coal-burning could easily make up the shortfall. But burning coal would be even worse for the planet, as it would create even more CO2, he said.
Predictions of global meltdown by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sparked the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an agreement obliging signatory nations to cut CO2 emissions.
The IPCC examined a range of future scenarios, from profligate burning of fossil-fuels to a fast transition towards greener energy sources.
The Uppsala team say the amount of oil and gas left is the equivalent of around 3,500 billion barrels of oil -- the IPCC say between 5,000 and 18,000 billion barrels.
Alekett said his team had now established what they called the "Uppsala Protocol" to initiate discussion on how the problems of declining reserves could be tackled -- protecting the world economy but also addressing the problem of climate change.
The conclusions of the Uppsala team were revealed in the magazine New Scientist Thursday, and Nebojsa Nakicenovic, of the University of Vienna who headed the IPCC team said it was standing by its figures.
He said they had factored in a much broader and internationally accepted range of oil and gas estimates then the "conservative" Swedes.
A conference in Russia this week heard a warning that global warming kills about 160,000 people through its effects every year. The numbers dying from "side-effects" of climate change, such as malaria and malnutrition, could almost double by 2020, the climate change conference in Moscow was told.
"We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 160,000 deaths... a year," Andrew Haines of the UK's London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said. (Full story)
Most deaths would be in developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, says Haines. These regions would be worst hit by the spread of malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria as a result of warmer temperatures, droughts and floods.