Friday, October 23, 2009

More ignorance isn't bliss.

Demand destruction in the US could only depress oil prices for so long - and it appears we are entering the next period of rising prices. This "bumpy plateau" of pricing will prevail as the price of oil and gasoline tries to find an equilibrium balance between rising production costs, decreasing oil field capacity, increasing overseas demand as other countries begin using more of their fair share, and falling demand in the US due to rising unemployment and other economic disruptions.

While it is true that the US demand has been bigger in the past than these other forces, the scales are now more equally balanced. Even the continual slide towards a Depression in the US may not stop oil prices from rising now - the other factors are weighing much more heavily on the scales. Yet Americans are still doing little to nothing to prepare for the day when they cannot rely on long distance transporation for anything in their daily lives: getting to work, to school, to the store, and stores themselves who rely on distant out-of-state suppliers will also be out of luck.

Policy makers ignore the facts, though they have known them for quite a while. Why? Because Americans aren't interested in preparing for the inevitable. They prefer to close their eyes and hope their children will have to deal with it, not them. It's an irresponsible and selfish attitude.

The Oil Drum
Dr. Chu, Dr. Aleklett, and the Price of Oil
Posted by Heading Out on October 22, 2009 - 10:05am

...There are a number of us who write about the situation in regard to the world supply of liquid fuels, and the future availability of those supplies. In general we began by gleaning our information from the internet, or each other, and from those relatively amateurish beginnings a community has developed to study the condition of “Peak Oil.” That community was immeasurably helped coalesce and grow by the conferences that began under the ASPO banner, with ASPO standing for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. Kjell Aleklett began these conferences on the study of peak oil some years ago, and has watched the growth of the community (shepherding, as International President, where necessary) since then...

...And has shown [that]...it is possible to acquire and publish a wealth of information about the condition of the various aspects of future energy supply that cast a relatively realistic view of what we might expect in the future...

...I look at what he has been able to accomplish, and then I contrast this with the current U. S. Secretary of Energy, an individual who has the vast resources of one of the larger Departments in the United States Administration at his disposal...

...Folk such as Dr. Aleklett have studied the real situation in regard to the future of oil. Based on detailed studies of the actual rate of oilfield discoveries and oilfield production individuals such as Rembrandt Koppelaar (ASPO Netherlands) have been able to produce high quality analysis of the reality of the global oil situation that has caught the attention of groups such as Global Witness, who have in turn produced a report “Heads in the Sand” that documents some of the issues that the global economy faces as future supplies of crude oil are unable to meet demand.

The evidence that forewarns of a problem has been out there for a long time. Sites such as The Oil Drum and Energy Bulletin have documented the evidence that has come to show that non-OPEC production of crude oil has already likely peaked, and the ability of OPEC itself to much increase their production beyond another couple of million barrels a day or so is in serious question.

There is, in short, a problem, and in the United States the responsibility for resolving that problem sits at the desk of the Secretary of the Department of Energy. Who with all due respect should not be surprised at all by the current rise in the price of crude, and the path that the price will take in the future, yet he is!

At least it would if he were paying attention. Unfortunately, however, the listing of the priorities of the Department...show that peak oil or the related issues over the supply volumes and prices of natural gas – are not that great a concern. Climate change seems to be of much greater concern than the coming crisis in fuel supplies...

...Even the British Government have recognized that, while making the politically correct genuflection toward the motif of global warming, that they are responsible for the ultimate fuel supply security of the British Isles...

...Unfortunately at the moment the United States does not seem as well served by its Administration in this area, since the Secretary seems woefully unaware of the underlying fragility of the energy supply situation.

...There is a meaning to the current rise in oil prices, control of which has now been passed to the OPEC nations, at least in the short term. If the Secretary is not aware of this, it would be extremely unfortunate not only for him but for the nation. This particularly the case if Dr. Chu's on-the-job training meant that he was unprepared when the next phase of this rolls around in the next year or so.


I have wondered on this blog if perhaps the government casting the problem in terms of climate change instead of peak oil is perhaps deliberate, simply because Americans will only give up their cars when you pry the steering wheels from their cold, dead hands - or when they are so flat broke they simply have no other choice. Americans are simply not willing to do what it takes to mitigate the facts of peak oil and transition calmly to a lower level of petroleum usage. That it is in our own best interest to take the problem seriously and act now doesn't matter to them. Americans have an adolescent attitude - taking the position that the future is not their problem. They expect TPTB to have their best interests in mind and not let things get "That Bad."

Where they got such an expectation I have no idea, since it is clearly unrealistic at best and seriously delusional at worst. TPTB have not in the last 50 or so years acted in the best interests of the common people - what makes anyone think they will start now? No, if changes are going to be made, they have to be at the local level, by ordinary people - communities together sitting down and planning what can be done, and then doing it without federal help, without state money, without the support of the Robber Barons. These three things will simply never manifest. It's every community for themselves, now. Either communities will step up to the plate, or they will drown in joblessness, incapacity, and privation.

And pretending otherwise isn't ignorance, it's suicide.

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