Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Logic of Oil

This morning, one of the topics on the morning news is the price of gasoline and the mutterings going on in Congress about whether or not to continue giving tax breaks to the oil industry.

Let’s list some things that are true.

1. Oil is a finite commodity and is not a renewable resource. Once what is there is gone, there won’t be any more until we go through our next global extinction cycle.

2. As the tap continues to run dry, prices for oil and oil related materials will continue to rise. Let’s face it folks, gas prices have nowhere to go in the long run except up. There may be some bumps up and down influenced by refining and by world events, but we have seen the last of a dollar a gallon gasoline. It’s a fact, deal with it.

3. Unless we take steps to come up with some alternate sources of energy, once the tap runs dry, our world will undergo a drastic change which we are not prepared to cope with.

4. Oil companies are not keen on developing alternative energy sources. This would be counterproductive to their bottom line, and the energy execs don’t give a rat’s ass if your children or grandchildren have to revert to living in the 18th century. Their families are going to be well set for at least a couple of generations by the money these guys are making now, and they will be dead and gone long before the proverbial shit hits the fan.

5. Politicians are influenced by campaign donations and by lobbyists. Oil companies have plenty of money both to contribute to politicians and to hire lobbyists to influence the votes of elected officials.

6. Everything you read or hear is not true. That means that when you hear that the solution to the high gasoline prices is more and more drilling, you need to really do some examination of those claims and not just take everything that Fox News tells you at face value. Oil companies also have lots and lots of money to fill the airwaves with propaganda designed to influence voters to elect officials who will vote the way the oil companies want them to vote.

7. Oil companies want to maintain the status quo. This means that they want to continue to enjoy the tax breaks they have enjoyed for many years while amassing billions of dollars in profits at the expense of John Factoryworker who is spending 10 percent of his weekly take home just to be able to get to work and back. (John Factoryworker as a point of reference, is someone earning $40,000.00 a year, not minimum wage) Four dollar a gallon gas means nothing to the day to day lives of oil execs and the politicians to whom they owe at least a portion of their good fortune.

8. There is no incentive to develop new energy sources under the current system.

There is no logic to continuing this cycle.

Here are a few other “truths”.

1. It is probably already too late to start working on meaningful alternate energy sources. What this means is that when crunch time arrives and the oil runs out, there is going to be a scramble to try and come up with something so that we can maintain the lifestyle that we have all become accustomed to. Unfortunately, it will be extremely difficult to power the years of research and development that will be needed to come up with alternatives without oil. So if we continue to wait, there may be nothing to be done and no way to do it.

2. Necessity is the mother of invention. In this moment and for at least several more years, or decades, the need for development of alternative energy sources is not immediate. The TV won’t go dark tomorrow. It is, therefore, easy to sit back and let things run their course, let the politicians continue to be influenced by oil company money, and let things continue along the path. Prices will continue to rise and we will continue to complain and do nothing until you can no longer afford to live in the suburbs and drive to the city to work, or the TV really does go dark.

3. Don’t discount the unthinkable. The unthinkable happens all the time.