Friday, August 1, 2008

Misdirection: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Open everything up! Drill everywhere! That'll fix it! If those damned treehuggers and scenery freaks would just stop getting in the way, we'd be paying less for gas next week!

Yeah, right.

The wrongheadedness of this attitude is so deep and so wide that it's hard to get one's arms around it all.

Where to start?

How about with the fact that "Big Oil" already holds perfectly legitimate leases to large tracts of ocean bottom that they have not even begun to tap?

How about a quick follow-up with the knowledge that there are not enough drilling rigs available right now or for the forseeable future to even begin to tap the existing leases, much less any more that might be opened up.

The current president, his old, fragile pretender to the throne, the oil-soaked Republicans on the congressional floors and (of course, and always) the oil lobby are going all out to make the sheep believe that punching more holes in the ground and slurping up all of the available oil will make things all better.

But it can't. Even if every well sunk was a gusher (and they most definitely will not be), that new supply could not even begin to be added to the current flow until the next president is getting close to finishing his next term.

And, what the politicians, the oil lobby and the mainstream press do not want to touch on is the inescapable fact that oil is a finite resource. What we're using now, have used in the past and will use in the future cannot be replaced. When it's gone, it's gone. And it WILL be gone! As a species, we've only been using petroleum products for about a century and a half, and most of that usage has come in the last 50 years. The big secret here is that the entire supply of oil available on the planet is now just about half gone, and we keep using more of it every year.

In case you're not following this to its inevitable conclusion, as a global population, we've got significantly less than 50 years to wean ourselves off of petroleum products.

Alternative energy sources are being treated like amusing little science projects or worse by much of the government, as have initiatives for conservation, and yet these are the only viable long-term solutions available.

As usual, the Washington gang can't see past the next election cycle, and they're more than happy to be sure that the general public doesn't look any further ahead on its own.

In the meantime, the oil companies are more than happy to not drill on what they already can. Even if the infrastructure was in place to do so, it's an open question as to whether they would or not.

Why bother now?

The leases are like huge savings accounts for them with interest rates that go up with every increase in oil prices. When they finally do get around to tapping some more wells, they'll be making even more obscene profits than they already are.

Of course, some of the tracts will be duds. That's a given. There's always the risk of a dry hole. But some won't be. Every dry hole increases the value of the next strike. They CAN win for losing, but the general public loses all around as long as there are no viable alternatives to fossil fuels.