Energy Supplies and Climate
Professor David Rutledge
Division of Engineering and Applied Science
California Institute of Technology

An accurate estimate of the production of oil, gas, and coal in the long run would be helpful for the ongoing policy discussion on alternatives to fossil fuels and climate change.   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.   Production of oil, gas, and coal in the long run is traditionally estimated from government geological surveys of oil and gas reservoirs and coal seams, together with an allowance for future discoveries of oil and gas.   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.

Power-Point Slides (Invited talk, American Chemical Society March 2018)

Estimating Long-Term World Coal Production with Logit and Probit Transforms, pdf    An invited paper by David Rutledge, reviewed and published in the International Journal of Coal Geology, Jan 2011, and Excel Workbook



Professor Rutledge is the Tomiyasu Professor of Engineering, emeritus, 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.