lonely-oil-rigBig Oil companies know better than most just how much oil is left in the world. The thing is, can you really trust an industry whose own estimates vary widely depending on the year and economic climate?

USA Today reports that the latest BP global oil reserve estimates gives the world just 53.3 years of easy energy left. After that, the crystal ball gets fuzzy. How much oil is left in the world?

These estimates are actually 1.1% more than last year, thanks in part to growing estimates of American shale oil. Of course keep in mind that the oil industry is regularly growing or shrinking estimated energy reserves, with California’s Monterey Shale having its reserves downgraded some 96%. There’s also suspicion that countries like Saudi Arabia are outright lying about how much crude they actually have left. So yeah. Skepticism.

53 years sounds like awhile, right? Well not really, but the bigger problem is that, as humanity reaches the last of its oil reserves, without an adequate energy transition in place, some countries could be caught flat-footed. That’s why the innovation of electric cars and other alternatives are crucial to develop right now.

The high gas prices and regional conflicts will begin long before the last drop of oil is extracted, and if the world isn’t ready, things will get really ugly really fast.