free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 48. WHAT ABOUT PESTICIDES?

Monday, August 22, 2005


We've seen in #28 that fertilizers have zero dependence on crude oil. But what about pesticides? Undoubtedly many pesticides are derived from petrochemicals, but this poses no danger for two reasons:

1) Petrochemicals can be synthesized from coal and gas (i.e. from synthetic oil -- see #43).

2) World production of pesticides is a minute fraction of total oil consumption, and thus can be substituted. Consider the following graph (source: US EPA -- click on the image for a clearer picture):
Figure 3.1
World and U.S. Pesticide
Amounts of Active Ingredient at User Level
By Pesticide Type, 2001 Estimates

Total worldwide consumption of pesticide in 2001 was about 5 billion pounds. That's equal to 2.5 million tons.
One ton of crude oil, on the other hand, contains about 7.3 barrels. Source
So even if we assume (very liberally) that all of the pesticides used in the world in 2001 were nothing but 100% crude oil, oil consumption for pesticides would be: (2.5 million tons)x(7.3 barrels) = about 18 million barrels of oil. According to BP (British Petroleum), total world oil production in 2001 was about 74 mbd (million barrels per day), and thus total production for 2001 was (365 days)(74 mbd) = about 27 billion barrels.
Therefore, at the very most, pesticide accounted for 0.06% (18/27000) of total world oil consumption. This fraction is so small, it wouldn't even show up on a pie chart.


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