You remember Thomas Malthus, right? He's the early 19th century guy who predicted that the Earth's population would soon outpace agricultural supply, and human beings would be forced to return to an agrarian/subsistence Medieval/primitive living. He proved embarrassingly wrong when the inventive mind of man and the concomitant industrial revolution allowed for excessive agricultural supply, far exceeding the pace of population -- and still doing so with 6.5 billion voracious human beings.
The Malthusians weren't limited to just agriculture, however. From early in the oil-production era, the Chicken Littles raised hue and cry about the alleged apocalypse of a vanquished Earth, siphoned of her rich oil reserves. Mr. Will gives a brief accounting of this lunacy, correctly connecting the hysteria not to rationality, but to big-government types seeking to aggrandize political machinery by fiat environmentalism and scare tactics.
Each generation since the 1859 oil discovery in Pennsylvania has had its prognosticators of doom, predicting a final depletion of oil and gas within a decade or so. Each time they've been grossly mistaken, and each time they do not learn from earlier doomsayers and the evident wonders of capitalism. They do not wish to learn, of course, because they seek to shackle corporations and liberty.
With recent technology, huge discoveries have been made in Northeast America, the Rockies, Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, near Australia and many other places, with current estimates on supply going out well over 100 years (and probably much longer in reality since the middle oceans and much of dry land haven't even been touched yet). Giant oil companies are now building $1 billion "capture" ships that make it possible to pump oil and gas directly onto the ship instead of having to lay expensive pipeline, thereby opening up vast expanses of ocean that until recently lay beyond the viable reach of man.
It is an exciting time for exploration -- if we can keep the Malthusians and their political keepers at bay in Copenhagen, Kyoto and beyond.