June 5, 2008
Last night I turned on C-span and on the screen was David Davis, 1st District representative of Tennessee. He was berating Congress about needless high gasoline prices and consequential hardships being placed on ordinary Americans. In his presentation he made some nonsense reference that blame can be assigned to Democrats and their leadership. According to Davis all can be quickly resolved by drilling in the ocean, Alaska, and coal conversion. Then, Americans can continue to drive their SUV’s without pain. This, presumbly, Democrats are blocking. Never mind, that the Republican party has enjoyed majorities in both branches of the legislature for six of the last eight years with a sitting Republican president. Much of what he had to say was embarrassing. Why embarrassing ? There is a real world out there that Davis has not caught up with yet.
Fossil fuels, even if plentiful, has no future as a result of co2 emissions which is warming the earth exponentially.
Now, if you are a “non-believer” in global warming, as Davis may be, then it is a matter of drilling a deeper hole and solving an otherwise intractable problem. A “non-believer” thinks all the climate concerns is a hoax perpetuated by bogus science and insincere scientists, along with politicians with vote needs. Of course, there is much indeed that is unknown about the warming earth, but what is known is uncomfortable and even scary knowledge.
Typically, “non-believers” think all the indisputable climate changes, that everyday Americans are now experiencing, are the result of periodic earth changes that have nothing to do with carbon emissions. According to the “non-believers” global warming is all just silly talk.
For purposes of discussion only let me take the “non-believer” position.
Oil forever. 25% of the worlds oil consumption by the U.S. is not unreasonable! We could go to Alaska, where we have plenty of oil if those “tree-huggers” would leave us alone and let us drill. We could convert coal to gasoline. We have 400 years of coal. And, oil shale,ours along with our good neighbor the Canadians, can be converted to gasoline and solve the problem. Simple enough; no lifestyle changes and maybe we could all drive Hummers some day.
Some people believe such talk. Maybe even congressmen. But, congressmen have no excuse. They are positioned to discover good information. When congressmen make denunciations like Davis they reveal unfamiliarity on the subject to the point of incompetence or just insincerity. That’s equal indictment !
Now, for the reality !
As I write this oil is near $130. a barrel. At a much lower sustained price,say $50. to $75. a barrel would demand lifestyle changes and hardships for many,in time. American lifestyles, thus far hardly movable, are day by day wearing down the American economy.
Scientists and geologists, from M. King Hubbert on, have a very good grasp of how much easy extractable oil is left. The U.S. production peaked in the 70’s. Thirty years ago I read information, provided by Exxon, that projected world production would peak near the 3rd decade of the 21st century. In the most current issue of National Geographic that peak is suggested by some to have lowered to 2015. After that peak, whenever it is, the curve drops sharply.
Is it reasonable to think that major oil companies would stake their future on alternate sources of energy if more oil could be found ? If oil is the energy of the future why has planning for refineries halted ?There has not been a new refinery in the U.S. for the past 30 years. Why has BP, on of the five majors, started an advertising campaign for alternative energy ? Why is the Rockafeller family goading Exxon management to begin to think non-oil more aggressively ? These people know that oil,as a transportation feed stock, is soon over.
The world uses 85 million barrels of oil per day. We use 21 million barrels each day. The much talked about ANWR Providence oil has 10 billion barrels, maybe some more. But, the amount is so insignificant that it will not even replace the projected depleted wells in this country, during an ANWR production cycle.
You can get gasoline from oil shale and even coal, but the American people cannot afford it due to high production costs. Any future oil is not an economical answer.
It is so important that people realize and accept that there is no quick technological fix to the energy crisis. It is simply a case of adjusting to a different world; a world of energy scarcity.
Just know that the next time you hear a politician or media propagandist telling you that you can have and deserve cheap oil, that they are messing with you.
The great challenge for America and the world is transitioning to this new energy condition. The alternative is economic ruin and possibly anarchy. We should spend no time in dreaming and make believe about a cheap energy world.