America's Peak Experience  

Posted by Big Gav

Common Dreams has a good general peak oil blame allocation story today.

If you are a Monty Python fan, you will remember the famous restaurant scene from "The Meaning of Life." In it a fawning waiter begs his grossly over-weight client, who has just finished a meal of obscene proportions, to have "just one thin mint." The diner's gut is already strained to the breaking point, and when he finally ingests the mint, his body explodes.

Unfortunately, America bears a remarkable resemblance to the diner in the Monty Python skit. On a daily basis we gobble up several times more petroleum than we produce. Our gluttonous appetite for oil has brought the economy to the breaking point. Will we come to our senses and realize that we must curb our oil addiction? Or will we have to "explode" first?

In 1972 Donella and Dennis Meadows, together with Jorgen Randers and William Behrens, published "The Limits to Growth," which analyzed the interrelated impacts of population growth, industrialization, malnutrition, environmental deterioration, and depletion of nonrenewable resources - in particular, oil. They predicted that the planet would reach its limits to growth within the next 100 years. The first crisis would be the world supply of oil, which they predicted to diminish around the year 2000.

After years of cheap oil, Americans are beginning to experience the combined affect of diminishing supplies of oil and increased demand. The price for a barrel of crude oil hovers near the all-time high of $58 and experts are talking about prices in the $75-105 range. The price for a gallon of gasoline will probably hit $3 this summer. Criticism of the Bush Administration usually begins with its poor record at predicting future events. A prime example would, of course, be Iraq, where they promised that Iraqi oil production would pay for the occupation. The truth is that today's Iraqi oil production is less than it was before the invasion and we have to import oil 1.7 million gallons of fuel per day, into Iraq, in order to fuel the American occupation; as a result, the occupation has cost billions more than original estimates. No doubt, this inability to forecast will also be the lasting record of the Bush Administration with regards to peak oil.

History will judge George and company harshly because of their indifference to the looming oil crisis. Rather than lead the US away from its oil addiction, the President seems content to play the role of fawning waiter, approaching gluttonous America, begging, "Please sir, just one thin mint."

Meanwhile, over in the UK ex-Energy Minister Brian Wilson plans to mutter harsh words about 'gas-guzzling' Americans at the ASPO conference in Scotland.

Back in the US, Alan Greenspan thinks it might be a good idea to have an energy policy (I thought they had one - invade whoever has oil) - and he thinks those good old methane hydrates might be the solution (the cornucopian fantasy du jour it seems).
When asked at a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee if he thought America needs a national energy policy, Greenspan said, "I think that we better have one because it's something which is integrated not only into our economic system but into our national security system as well."

He said it is possible new technologies will lead to alternative sources for the fuels consumers use now.

"There's an awful lot of what we call natural gas hydrates (of which) we have in the United States huge reserves. Which is sort of a methane that's encased in ice crystals and which we're now only beginning to look at," the Fed chief said.

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4 comments

Yeah - guess methane hydrates are a perfectly reasonable thing to investigate, in a world without global warming.

In the real world, if we significantly tap into them, we run the chance of kicking off a runaway global warming.

This would be a really butt headed thing to do.

And of course, people are lining up to do it - cuz nobody believes in wind and solar cells.

Remember the time that when Greenspan would sneeze, the stock market would genuflect? Greenspan now talking about Methane Hydrates just seems like an absurd non-sequitor. The guy should really consider hanging up his bifocals.

BTW, the Monty Python character's name is telling: Mr. Creosote!

:-)

Good point - I knew his name (thats how I found the image) but didn't make the obvious connection...

Is Greenspan acting as the waiter to America's Mr Creosote ?

He would then have to be willing to take lots of vitriol and abuse from Creosote.

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