Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Got Gas?

[The following thumb-in-the-eye of the environmentalist Left was first published at Eternity Road on April 28, 2006. -- FWP]

The entire country seems to be massively exercised over gasoline prices these past couple of years. To anyone with an economics background, recent events would appear inevitable. Two major population nodes, India and China, have been industrializing at a rapid rate, and therefore have been competing with the developed world for energy resources. Enviro-Nazis have succeeded in choking off essentially all development of new petroleum finds, no matter where they might be. (They've also succeeded in preventing the expansion of American refining capacity.) The Middle East is no longer a reliable, stable supplier of crude oil, Mexico is suffering great instabilities of all sorts, Britain is committing slow suicide in its own, very British way, and Venezuela...well, let's just not go there.

If oil and gas production are flat but demand is rising, what else could we expect but steady increases in price?

Some have hoisted the banner of alternative energy sources. True, any practical substitute for oil or gas would lower demand for those things, and hence help to relieve the pressure on their prices. But what alternatives are there? Electrical power must be generated from some source; the most efficient starting points are water power, burning fossil fuels, or nuclear fission. The green bigots have forbidden all nuclear power development, have placed insupportably costly regulations on the use of coal, and would wet their pants at the idea of a new hydropower dam marring one of their beloved rivers. Even wind-power farms are being blocked by the BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody) crowd. So the plants that provide the watts that keep our computers hot and our beer cold will continue to compete with our cars and heating oil tanks for that precious black sludge.

The word your Curmudgeon has gotten terminally sick of hearing is "conservation:"

Conservation, by definition, is a short-term emergency measure. If you are in a lifeboat with seven people and only one jar of water, you conserve it, meaning you dole it out by drops to the group until all are rescued. But to demand of a giant industrial nation that it "conserve" energy without simultaneously offering an ultimate rescue plan is insanity. The unstated implication of [such a] law [is] simply that we [have] become helplessly dependent on the extortionist OPEC nations for our very survival and, should our relations with them go awry, we would die. [Former Treasury Secretary and Energy Czar William E. Simon, in A Time For Truth, writing of the 1973-1975 OPEC Oil Embargo]

This should be self-explanatory. The steady climb of petroleum product prices these past twenty years heralds a steadily intensifying demand-competition for oil and its successor products. If we regard Mankind as a single man and oil as his nourishment, if current conditions continue, the price curves foretell his death by starvation. If Man is to live, his alternatives are the development of new energy sources, including both the fossil fuels and the alternatives to them, or his slow and agonizing demise. There are no others.

Viewed thus, the hard-line environmentalists who seek to prevent any increase in petroleum extraction or refining are the enemies of the human race. Indeed, they seem to relish the title. Paul Ehrlich, Jeremy Rifkin, and Amory Lovins have several times each said that they favored a reduction in world energy supplies. Ehrlich and Rifkin were appalled when the "cold fusion" developments of the late Eighties were announced:

Ehrlich: "It's the worst thing that could happen to our planet!"
Rifkin: "It would be like giving a machine gun to an idiot child."

Lovins, in a notorious interview with Playboy magazine, had said:

If you ask me, it'd be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won't give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other. [Amory Lovins, Playboy interview, Nov/Dec 1977]

These are the icons of the environmentalism movement. If they sound like the sort of persons from whom you would be disposed to seek edification, stay far away from your Curmudgeon; he's armed and has had a very bad week.

If America is to continue to climb the curve of technological advance, hopefully culminating in a society powered by the ultimately cheap, clean and flexible source of energy -- nuclear fusion, which would give us transmutation of the elements as a "spinoff" -- we must continue to seek out, extract, and refine the petroleum gifts of the Earth. As the prices of oil and gas advance, and ordinary people find it increasingly difficult to heat their homes and drive their cars, they will grow very tired of the self-righteous pseudo-moralizing of the save-the-Earth crowd. At some point, when hundreds or thousands of Americans have died of exposure to the cold and the shortfall of petroleum has precipitated a nationwide depression, anyone who dares to suggest that further energy exploration, extraction, or refinement is unacceptable for some moss-and-dirt-worshipping reason will find himself ornamenting the end of a rope.

June 27, 2013: I still feel that way -- Barack Hussein Obama's machinations at shutting down America's energy industry have me particularly exercised today -- and quite frankly, I'd be willing to do some of the stringing-up myself. Especially now that I've replaced Mercy:

...with Miranda:

Woe betide him who tries to prevent me from feeding her! Anyway, she gets 25 mpg.


CGHill said...

Reminds me of a bit of snark in Car and Driver regarding the S-Class:

"...globally recognized as the unofficial -- except in cases where it's official -- transport of powerful people on all three sides of the law: right, wrong, and above."

Francis W. Porretto said...

Betcherass, Charles. But then, as I've been parroting ever since I first saw it in the pages of the National Lampoon:

"I'm a white male American taxpayer over 21, and I figure that makes me top dog in this corner of the universe."

Cederq said...

Hear, hear! Mr. Porretto.
If you got the chili, why not have the best condiments to go with it!
Good choice on cars. When I happen to come upon one of the dirt first group, sure I tell them I belong to PETA, (people eating tasty animals) and I am a tree hugger, I hug the tree,then when the lumber jack comes up to cut it down, I walk over and hug the next tree, and continue to do that until the jacks are done.