Monday, May 26, 2008

oil again-- a reply to my last post

hi everyone.
i thought i'd post this great reply to greg palast's article by glen anderson from olympia. he writes on a major issue regarding oil prices that greg left out--peak oil. i have no idea which factor is the major role but i'm sure both are playing big roles in what we spend for gas. moral of both articles is reduce your gas and other fossil fuel use drastically and start moving in another direction.

glen anderson wrote:

Usually I agree with what Greg Palast writes. This article unfairly singles out Obama for a problem that has persisted for many decades. Most of Palast’s article is about the decades-long problem, but he cites only minor parts of the root causes. He blames oil companies and politicians for artificially constricting supply. That’s only a tiny part of the problem.

Certainly U.S. imperialism is a major problem in the world. But Palast’s article blames U.S. imperialism and artificial constraints on supply for the entire problem of sharp oil price increases. His article – just like mainstream news media and mainstream politicians – ignore the real driving force: Peak Oil. A relatively few of us have been trying to publicize the Peak Oil crisis since 2004, but the public, politicians, and news media – and much of the progressive activist community – have avoided dealing with it. Now the crisis is upon us, and folks STILL are avoiding the real issue.

The harsh reality is that oil is a finite resource. Mother Nature spent hundreds of millions of years creating it underground. Industrial society has extracted half of that in only about 160 years. Any given oil well becomes less productive as it ages. At the aggregate level, the total of all the world’s oil wells have reached their peak productivity, and now they simply cannot pump as much as in previous years. Meanwhile, demand is still growing. The law of supply and demand forces prices up.

Oil production in the U.S. peaked in 1971 and has been declining since 1971. After a hundred years of exploration and extraction very little new oil and gas is being found anywhere in the world.. Global oil discoveries peaked in 1962 (40 billion barrels) and discoveries have been declining ever since 1962. Now we are at the 1910 level of oil discoveries (10 billion barrels). The oil companies are investing less in exploration because they KNOW very little is left to be discovered. The Republican Party’s proposal of using our tax dollars to subsidize oil companies’ exploration is wasteful. For many years the oil companies have known about the coming peak oil crisis and the vast increases in oil prices, so they would have invested money in exploration, but they didn’t because they KNOW hardly any oil is left to be discovered.

·The last major oil discovery was in 1976 – more than 30 years ago.

·More than 70% of the present supply of oil in the world was discovered before 1973.

·Today, for every barrel of oil discovered, the world consumes FOUR barrels. This is NOT sustainable!

We don’t “produce” oil. Mother Nature produced it. We just extract it from the ground. The Peak Oil crisis is a geological reality. Neither “the market” nor technology can fix it. There is only so much oil. Peak Oil is a geological reality. We can’t ignore it or wish it away, any more than we can ignore or wish away the global climate crisis.

The early ‘70s OPEC embargo was a temporary disruption based on a political controversy. The crisis we face now is different from the OPEC oil embargo. Peak Oil is a geological reality – a hard limit. We are somewhere near the peak now. We might have peaked in 2005 or 2006. Existing wells are pumping all they can, and practically no new sources exist (without counterproductive economic and environmental costs).

The harsh reality is that the world will have to get by on less and less oil every year – and at higher and higher prices. The Peak Oil crisis will affect EVERY aspect of modern society, economics, and lifestyle.

The U.S. government is already fighting wars for oil in Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia and – to some extent – in Venezuela. More oil wars are on the way.

The U.S. has been the world’s major user of oil, but other nations are industrializing rapidly.

▪On China’s east coast the sales of cars are increasing 80% per year.

▪Shanghai and some other Chinese cities have BANNED bicycles in order to make room for more cars.

▪China recently passed Japan as the world’s #2 oil importer.

Oil has been the cheapest and most convenient energy resource ever discovered by humans. For 200 years industrial nations became accustomed to a seemingly endless supply of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas). The US in particular designed our industry, transportation, and many other aspects of our society around the assumptions that oil would always be available and cheap – and that growth is necessary and can go on forever.

Over the coming years, prices for gasoline and everything made from oil will spike. This will cause economies to crash.

Transportation of people and goods will become much more expensive. Large-scale agriculture (based on fertilizers and pesticides made with oil and natural gas) will stop being cost-effective, so global food production will decline. Some experts predict that hunger will kill billions of people in a few decades.

We’re importing more and more of our oil from other countries – especially countries that are politically unstable. Wars for oil will ravage the globe. Indeed, they’ve already started as the US tries to conquer Afghanistan to build a pipeline and tries to control the oil of Iraq, Colombia, and Venezuela. The U.S. foreign policy is very much bi-partisan. Both big political parties have shown they are willing to kill for oil.

The Peak Oil crisis will yank us out of our familiar world of energy growth and transplant us into a world of energy decline. We’ll enter uncharted territory. We’ll need to adjust our mental frame of reference to this new reality. We’ll need to rethink and redesign modern society. Government and the public have resisted the radical changes that are necessary.

Frankly, the odds are against us, but some solutions are possible – but only if we can generate the political will – and only if we start immediately!

We need to slash our oil consumption drastically, and we need to slash it immediately!

Most of the commonly offered painless solutions are not realistic.

For example, ethanol costs MORE than gasoline and causes MORE air pollution than gasoline. Making ethanol from corn is driving up the cost of corn and other grains for hungry people around the world. But even if we devoted the ENTIRE U.S. corn crop to ethanol, it would provide less than 6% of the U.S.’s oil needs. To make ethanol from sugar and other crops, Brazil is clear-cutting jungles and causing environmental damage and the loss of plants that consume CO2.

Frankly, there are NO good solutions.. NO solutions that are cheap or painless.

We need to slash our oil consumption drastically, and we need to slash it immediately!

The Peak Oil crisis requires a RADICAL change in the whole U.S. economy and way of life. Think on the scale of the massive changes during World War II.

The sooner we start, the sooner we can adapt to the new realities. We can’t fool Mother Nature. Either we deal with reality, or reality will deal with us!

Last September I conducted a workshop on Peak Oil that laid out the problems and engaged participants in generating practical solutions that we could start implementing at the local level. The workshop also addressed the feelings of fear, denial and powerlessness that prevent people and governments from confronting the Peak Oil crisis effectively. The workshop was very well received, and I’d be happy to conduct it again if people are interested.


Erik Brooks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erik Brooks said...

Welcome to the Valley James (and Alison). Given your interests in Peak Oil and trail running, you couldn't be in a better place -- although ironically there is lots of driving to be done around here...

If you haven't already met Dana Visalli, editor of the Methow Naturalist, and advocate of many "sustainable living" practices, look for him at the next farmer's market in Twisp. He is equally passionate about the oil issue, the Iraq war etc. etc.

I fear that you have stepped it up to a new level of time/distance in your training plan, but we'll have to get out on the trails for at least a manageble 2-6 hours sometime.