Oh, like "scientists" suddenly arriving on-scene, at seemingly almost the last minute, to pitch in with their "findings", is a novel thing?
Let's consider a few other ecological tipping-points or resource bell-curves and see how well scientific findings were applied in those situations, as a comparison to how valuable these findings related to oil futures (futures, mind you) really are.
If global warming exists, it is history's most major industrial accident, so you'd think a careful study is backing the debate. Instead, self-proclaimed scientists argue conclusions predisposed by funding. Conflicting figures run amok, and science itself seems to break down: scientists don't know where 30-40% of projected carbon emissions "go" (Parsons, 145).
In the midst of the climate debate, deforestation estimates differ by tens of thousands of square miles as do assessments of original forest areas (Shoumatoff, 340; Richards, 11).
Not helping matters, in the 1990s the Global Climate Coalition, financed by large oil, coal, and auto industries, ran a disinformation campaign on global warming, finding an audience due to their emphasis on unbiased journalism (Casper, 143).
Climate and tree-cutting aren't the only muddied issues: fishing "is fraught with scientific papers trying to write and rewrite history to excuse some and blame others" (Clover, 111).
Scientists in the 1860s, pressured by British fishermen who had to fish farther and farther out to land any catch, began the inquiry into man's effect on "fisheries" (a term describing oceanic regions as industrial supplies.) Commission chairman Thomas Huxley maintained a view into the 1880s that: "in relation to our present modes of fishing... the most important sea fisheries... are inexhaustible," justified based on two assumptions: that fish catches are miniscule compared to what swims in the vast oceans, and that the effect of fishermen on their numbers was nil compared to that of their everyday struggle as marine life (Clover, 102). So began the tradition of failing to apply sound logic in solving the urgent problem of over-fishing.
During the 1990s, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization stated fish catches were increasing yearly. In 2001, two researchers revealed catches actually declined since the 80s. Chinese officials had overstated their national statistic, their operations of government subverted beneath operations of industry: the officials were promoted only if statistics reflected increased production. The Chinese officials had recorded "by-catch" (a term for unsalable fish) as productive (Clover, 22; Cousteau, 149). As a direct result of their inventiveness, fishing was not done as if a scarcity were underway, which it was. Jacques Cousteau remarks, "such lapses by those who lead nations bewilder explorers who have led a team" (94).
Cousteau notes further discrepancies: between the projected rate of nuclear power plant meltdown and the real thing (whereas pioneer risk assessments assured the world that a meltdown would occur only once for every 17,000 operating years per concurrently-operating plant, two meltdowns had occurred after only 4,000 operating years total for all plants world-wide); between the projected failure rate of space shuttles (once in 100,000 launches) and reality (Challenger, the 25th launch); and between claims versus motives when decisions affecting human lives are made "not to protect lives, but to protect investments" (pages 88, 92).
So you see, these "scientists" seem to only gain a major stage and only seem to be listened to when they're actually the puppets of major industrial interests.
Let's also take into consideration that oil trades on the global market and that the value of oil futures is volatile. Events like political instability in the middle east might make oil appear to be an unstable future and so values of futures will plummet. Saddam Hussein used this to his advantage numerous times by killing his brothers to drive oil prices down, buying oil futures, and then shaking hands and making peaceful promises with the West to bring the futures up and make a profit selling.
What does discovery do? It increases the amount that's out there. Less scarcity means less value overall, so the more these findings are taken seriously, the less valuable the oil futures are going to look. But if, after oil becomes devalued to a certain extent, the scientists are -- wow -- suddenly found "wrong" (who'd have thought it could happen on Earth?!?! WHYYY?!?!?!) then the opposite could happen, and the cheap futures could be sold at a profit.
Casper, Julie Kerr, Ph.D. Fossil Fuels and Pollution. New York: Infobase. 2010. Print.
Clover, Charles. The End of the Line. New York: The New Press. 2006. Print.
Cousteau, Jacques and Susan Schiefelbein. The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus. New York: Bloomsbury. 2007. Print.
Parsons, Michael L. Global Warming: the Truth Behind the Myth. New York: Plenum. 1995. Print.
Richards, John F. & Richard P. Tucker, eds. World Deforestation in the 20th Century. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 1988. Print.
Shoumatoff, Alex. The World is Burning. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1990. Print.