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27 July, 2011

Yet Another Letter RE: "Motorists Driving Less, But Gas Prices Keep Rising" *OR* THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT SHALE OIL

Once again, in order to follow Along fully with this conversation, you will need to read: first here, and then here.

Anonymous said: "Okay, have the states take over the oil companies and not the federal government. Do you really think Exxon should make 300 billion a year? Thats a lot of money and power, they could use that to take over the USA. Thta more money some most countries make.

So what you are writing is that oil shale and coal are too exspensive and we'll just run out of oil soon and be ready to pay $20 dollars a gallon for gasoline.

This is mis-information the crooked oil companies put out to justify their making billions in profits (which should be used to pay off the national dept.), why should a handful of people get all the money? Most of them aren't trust worthy, and to the rich, they never have enough money. They want the world with a fence around it!

They are laughing their asses off and lighting their $100 cigars with $100 bills! I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the newspapers and media are owned by the oil companies/Saudi arabia.

And what about oil sand-like what Canada has? I've read that there is enough oil there to supply all of North America for the next 100 to 200 years alone! And the "greens" are trying to stop more oil sand to open up in other locations across Canada. ( The "greens" also don't like coal powered power plants- they think everyone should have a windmill or solar power-but you still need factories to build these products.) Forget about other countries, keep the fuel here.

Also, most people don't realize this, but, the airline industry uses 50% of all fuel in the USA, not car drivers like the media says. Didn't anybody notice how fast fuel prices came down after 9/11? When no planes flew for 3 days? It sold for less that a dollar in some places!"


My Response: I won't speak to how much money it is okay for oil companies to make (because, truly, it isn't any of my business or yours). That wasn't the point of anything I said. I will say, however, that any form of collectivization is a bad thing, whether it is done by the federal government or the states. Truly, that's only my opinion though. Everybody has one. I also find it troubling that you would consider it okay to essentially hijack a company's earnings in order to pay off a debt that it had nothing to do with accruing. If you take out a loan and can't pay it back the bank doesn't repossess your neighbors car - your poor neighbor had nothing to do with your failure. Exxon didn't run up the national debt; an irresponsible government did. What you're talking about is dangerously close to communism.

The real "meat and potatoes" of what I had to say was in regards to the utter infeasibility of using shale rock or coal to completely (or even significantly) replace current petroleum inputs. I think the problem is that you're looking at this entire thing as we have always been taught to look at it in the past, but the problem with that is that the future is not going to look anything like the past... er... actually, it will: the future is going to look very much like the past - the distant, pre-industrial past, to be exact. You have it in your head that the idea that we are running out of oil was something that was put out there by the oil industry when, in truth, it is that industry that has done everything in its power to bend public attention away from that fact by touting all of the new technologies that are supposedly looming on the very edge of the horizon that will allow them to make more and more oil discoveries and extract a greater and greater percentage of that oil they have already found but cannot yet reach. The problem with that is that they have been saying that for quite a long time, meanwhile -- with every year that passes -- the petroleum sources we have at our disposal are drying up; each year, the industry must work harder and harder simply to get the same amount of oil out of the ground that they got the year before, and, as I stated in my previous article, most of it is not even of the quality that it once was.

Peak Oil Theory is not propaganda, but rather is based on solid science and not a small amount of simple logic. You seem loathe to agree with the point I laid out in my previous article that very clearly spelled-out the utter absurdity that shale and coal, with the far more labor-intensive processes required to convert them into petroleum equivalent liquids, would, in fact, accomplish anything but to raise gas prices, not lower them. This is simple logic. The more labor and resources you have to put into creating something, the more it is going to cost the consumer in the end. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you a bill of goods. Shale and coal are fine on a small scale, just like solar panels and wind turbines - but none of them will *EVER* yield us an EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) ratio even close to what petroleum gave us.

What you are espousing is political propaganda that has been fed to you by the exact opposite extreme of the so-called "greens" (as you called them). The "greens" want everybody on solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy, whereas the other extreme wants to exploit new sources of oil. Both are tied to extreme polar opposing political philosophies, and both are utterly deluded. This delusion manifests itself in the idea that there is going to be any way whatsoever for people to continue living the way they currently live in the future.

So you see, it isn't that I'm trying to say that people should just be okay with the idea of paying $20 per gallon for gas and not mind if the oil companies make a killing off of it. Put aside for a moment the facts that I've already laid-out to show that they won't really be making that much of a profit because the gasoline will cost so much for them to produce, I actually don't even think that those companies will still exist, at least not in the form that we see them now.

When gasoline reaches $20 per gallon (notice that I said "when," not "if"), travel as we now know it -- both overland and by air -- will largely be the domain of government entities and the very rich. People seem to have this misconception that Peak Oil represents us suddenly and completely running out of oil, when it is actually a simple understanding that, as oil becomes harder and harder to harvest and process, it will also become prohibitively expensive. If you live in the United States, like I do, say goodbye to things like coffee and bananas, unless you are willing to pay a hundred times more for them than you currently do. It will cost so much for them to be shipped overseas to your local grocery, that the price will be comparably high. Likewise, oranges will be quite a bit cheaper if you live in Florida or Georgia than if you happen to reside in the Northeast, because they won't need to be shipped as far.

Say goodbye to the current dynamic of living in the suburbs and driving 30-40 minutes to get to your job in the city. You will either find a job near where you live, or you won't have a career as we think of it. All throughout human history, setting aside the past century or so, people who lived in cities were those who worked jobs as we think of them today, not those who lived in the countryside. City dwellers worked for an employer and paid for food and other necessities with the coin that was paid to them in return for their labor; rural people worked the land and fed themselves thusly, and would often live their entire lives having never even been to the city. Even as recently as in the early twentieth century, we hear tales of people living out in the sticks and only venturing into town two or three times per year to acquire those things that they could not provide for themselves, such as salt.

There is only one thing that ever changed that dynamic: petroleum and the cheap, easily-accessible energy it represented. What most people fail to realize, however, is that this has simply been a blip in the long continuum of human understanding and it is about to come to an end.

My advice to all of you:

Learn to grow most of your own food, and learn everything you can about ways you might preserve it if you suddenly lost your freezer (human beings have been using root-cellaring and drying methods as well as salt to preserve foodstuffs for a far larger part of our history than we ever had refrigeration).

Acquire the ability to produce your own electricity on at least a small scale, or get used to living without it.

Locate a source of fresh, potable water near your home or, better yet, have a well drilled and install a holding tank and at least one solar panel, so that you do not find yourself at the mercy of the outdated shambles that is the national power grid. If you cannot accomplish either of those, a purchase a good-quality ceramic water filter and as many replacement filters as you can afford. Water-borne illnesses will claim the lives of many, mark my words.

Do not leave your life in the hands of electric or gas heating; install a wood-burning stove in your home, so that, come winter, you have at least the ability to attempt to provide for your own survival and comfort.

There are many other things that would be prudent for one to do to prepare themselves to live in a very different society than the one we currently live in (not the least of which would require gaining as much knowledge as possible about proper wound care and bush medicine), but those listed above will give you a good head start and ensure you will survive quite a bit longer than the average person.

Get ready, folks... you'll be terribly sorry if you don't.

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