Pour In

Dear J-

As oil jumped nearly 10% yesterday, I see there’s renewed calls to drill in places all over the US, from the Pacific coast to ANWR. The Republicans are somehow blaming the Democrats for blocking the construction of refineries and not encouraging the sensitive souls running the oil companies to conduct more exploration; the Democrats, likewise, point to the failed ethanol initiative (one which could prove more damaging, politically, than “Mission Accomplished” — who could predict that from 2006’s State of the Union Address?) as having simultaneously driven up demand for oil (not so paradoxically: more corn grown means more fertilizer and pesticides which are made with petroleum) and depressed stocks of food (as farmers flocked to grow corn fields).

Increased production isn’t the answer, of course; any kind of reading on petroleum will point to the theory of Peak Oil, the point at which the maximum production of oil occurs — it’s already happened in the United States (1970), and may be happening to some of the larger oil-producing states as we speak (Mexico, for one). Meanwhile, as the rest of the world catches up on the industrialization curve, net exporters shift to becoming importers (Indonesia, for one, has now dropped out of OPEC after over forty years in that cartel). The future’s in conservation, no matter which way you slice it: denser living, faster networks. Wouldn’t the most efficient commute be one done electronically? For all us office drones, the amount of time I spend physically handling something other than a keyboard and trackball — the amount of time I’d actually need to be on-site probably amounts to less than 5% of the hours I pour into work.



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