The Wall Street Journal’s week-end edition titled the Review section by a piece from Daniel Yerkin. Yerkin is a petroleum historian who authored the book The Prize. Yerkin titled his article, “There will be Oil”. The lean of the article is petroleum security. In other words, we will never see the last drop.
Yerkin cites the technological improvements in extracting oil. That applies to the oil fields in North Dakota where production jumped from 10,000 barrels a day to 400,000 barrels a day now. Big difference ! Our foreign oil imports peaked at 60%, but are now 47%.
Yerkin seems to doubt Marion King Hubbert’s thesis that oil production will recede to the point of not being useful for energy needs. “Hubbert’s Peak” has been the standard gage for decades. He does concede that Hubbert got the U.S. production peak year (1970) on the money.
What did Yerkin’s article not tell us ? He did not tell us there is an emerging world behind China, India, and Brazil. They too, will need oil from the world market. If this demand exceeds supply the price will not return to historic levels. There is also a cost factor for extracting the “tight” oil which will drive the cost to unacceptable levels. It is not so much that we will run out of oil, but rather, we will run out of affordable oil.
The price of gasoline was $1.50 per gallon just 10 years ago. American lifestyles, associated with the current high pump prices, have only marginally changed from historic trends. Also, Americans still use 25% of all oil; more than the entire European Union. So, the current high prices continue to erode disposal income for most Americans. In other words the high energy prices are making us poorer and poorer. Petroleum efficiencies, which Yerkin mentions, could make some difference. But, these efficiencies, until now, have been resisted be the transportation industry. It is about economics and oil is still finite, even if the earth still contains 5 trillion barrels. I think we will discover that less and less petroleum is easily extractable.
We have two options: (1) change our lifestyle, or (2) adopt a more efficient mode of travel. If option (2), this must be a rapid evolution. No dragging it out for 25 years. There will be inconveniences and sacrafices to get this energy problem straightened out.
Energy transition for Americans needs leadership and leadership is in far less supply than petroleum.
Ten years ago this day, in the early morning, I was at work and talking on the phone to the mayor of our town. As I was watching events on television I told her we needed to get off the phone, as she needed to turn the television on.
Death and destruction was reigning down on southern Manhattan. Initially, there was limited information. We just knew it was bad. Everyone knew ! In the hours and days to follow there was published reports of heart breaking communications of love and good-byes. It was a day of tears. We all suffered.
About ten months before the hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, I was visiting New York and was staying at the Marriott, which was positioned between the two towers. As I watched the news and saw the images of the burning buildings I thought about the people I saw working in the towers. Maybe, it was just eye contact, or a smile, or even a conversation. Did they make it out, I kept thinking. I will never know.
I have been back to New York since and at the site of the World Trade Center. It’s somber. People mill about quietly and respectfully. The gallantry and selflessness of those hours of attack, by the emergency responders, rank with the highest sacrifices in the annals of America.
September 11, 2001 is a stark reminder that the world is a dangerous place, and hate can reach anywhere and touch anyone. Nobody’s immune. Death can pursue us on the loneliest road or in the most bustling metropolitan center. But, the Proverb comforts us and assures us that ” safety is of the Lord.”
One of the Washington Post writers took note of disrespect shown the President of the United States at his speech on Thursday night. It’s worth reading. The disrespectful were members of Congress. So, I suppose you could surmise, the president’s proposals, for better or worse, received an instant result.
At this weeks Republican forum, so called, the governor of Texas, remembered a letter, that Rep. Paul, also of Texas, had written President Reagan denouncing his policies and threatening to leave the Republican Party. Paul, who claims to be an early Reagan supporter, did not deny the charge. Instead, he elaborated on Reagan’s faulty economics. He ended up indicting Reagan in the Reagan library.
Activist Black organizers are claiming their unemployment levels are at depression levels or 25%. Minority unemployment is higher than White, but, for adults it is not at depression levels.
Blacks have an unemployment rate of 16.8%, as of July 2011. Hispanics, a larger minority, has 11.3%. Whites are at 8.2%.
41.4% of Black teenagers between 16-19 are unemployed. Same demographic shows Hispanics at 36.2% and Whites at 23.3%. That is a lot of young people on the streets. These numbers are at depression levels.
Interesting, a higher percentage of men were employed for Whites and Hispanics. But, for Blacks a higher percentage of women were employed than men.