Rocky Mountain Section - 64th Annual Meeting (9–11 May 2012)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


REMPE, Norbert T., 1403 N Country Club Cir, Carlsbad, NM 88220-4115,

Prognoses of the future availability of resources have sounded alarms over impending shortages since before the 19th century. Increasingly sophisticated updates still underestimate the inventory of most mineral commodities as approximately sufficient for only the next generation. One among several reasons for even local and regional forecasts being serially flawed is that enterprises lack economic incentives to identify reserves for production in the more distant future. National and global estimates are for the most part constrained by the availability of original industry data and therefore also err consistently on the low side.

Despite their dismal record, pessimistic predictions of unprecedented scarcity just a few years or decades hence continue to enjoy respectability not only in the general media, but also in academic journals, science textbooks, and classroom instruction. Incontrovertible historical and recent evidence that is incompatible with this negative paradigm and instead justifies optimism is ignored or at least belittled.

Economic and applied geology are well suited to address this paradox. Earth science education can and must employ and advance true scientific skepticism to reduce and eventually eliminate the discrepancy between perception and reality in mineral resource assessments. Concerning the future availability of any geologic commodity we must heed Wallace E. Pratt’s dictum: ”Where oil is first found, in the final analysis, is in the minds of men.“

  • Perception v Reality.pdf (2.7 MB)