Saturday, July 26, 2008

Doing nothing (or very little) and breaking your arm patting yourself on the back

Mitch Berg, at Scared of the Dark once again finds a way to congratulate neo-kooks for doing next to nothing.

He whines about truckers planning on protecting the Republican National Convention because "They're protesting the people actually DOING something about it." To neo-kooks, doing something means proposing short-term fixes, or fixes that didn't even exist five years ago.

ANWR has perhaps as much as 18 billion barrels of oil, I say perhaps because that's the most optimistic guess, it could be somewhat less. Even if they could get 10 Million barrels a day from ANWR, which is a massive if, it would not change the price of oil substantially. The world's current rate of consumption will top 110 M/bbls per day by 2012, and probably be over 125 bbls/day by 2025. While 10 bbls helps, it won't change the price of crude more than a few to a dozen dollars. It's a small amount when contrasted against the WORLD's consumption. People like Berg try hard to ignore that fact - when they talk about how ANWR could supply the US for several years. Oil is a world-wide commodity. While ANWR oil might even wind up here, it would only be replacing oil which would then head elsewhere. Bottom line, oil company executives testified that oil should be at $60/bbl without speculation and the threatening situation with Iran (and some threats from Niger). If you add 10MM/bbl per day to 110 which is or will be available, you're adding 9% to current supply, 9% of $60 is $5.40/bbl reduction in straight terms - which means gas would go from roughly $2.25 gallan it SHOULD be at, to $2.05 - WOW, what a difference!

Shale-oil and deep water drilling are solutions which were not even available five years ago. Shale-oil simply couldn't be realisitically produced, and deep water drilling isn't financially viable below roughly $55-60 barrel, which oil wasn't at 5 years ago. Unless the oil companies are stupid, they don't have any interest in pumping oil for a loss, and the sure won't erect oil derricks for a 'future' need 5 years in advance. Bottom line, neither was a viable solution, yet the neo-kooks belly-ache about how 'environmentalists prevented them' from having a solution. They also fail to grasp the vast quantities of water needed to process enough shale-oil to have an impact. I believe I read it takes something like 10 gallons of wash water to clean enough shale/sand to give you 2 gallons of oil. Good luck getting enough water in Utah - fresh water is already becoming a commodity under pressure in the southeast US, I wonder what happens when we start consuming another 1.5 billion gallons a day to process shale/sand oil? (at a 5:1 ratio - to produce 10 Million barrels/day will require at least that much water). Even if it's only 100 million gallons a day - that's an enormous quantity of water - and it's not available.

What the neo-kooks don't want to admit to is that for 35 years they've stood in the way of alternatives to oil, claiming it would last forever, that it renews itself, that polution control wouldn't work, was too costly, was unnecessary, that pollution was overrated hype. They also supported tax cuts which greatly increased consumption - cuts which were unneccessary sops to the US automanufacturers.

Now that things have hit critical mass, they want to claim only THEY have a solution, but their solution is either a short-term band-aid on a long-term problem (in the case of ANWR), or was not viable in the past at the market prices, and does NOTHING to address dependence, pollution, or good long-term planning. In short, bottom line, they don't want to do much of anything, they want to, once again, ignore the problems and hope they'll go away, and they want to pat themselves on the back for suggesting ANWR, which is a nothing solution, it's irresponsibily short-sighted. They want to claim others don't have solutions, because the solutions others have will, in fact, take a long time, but will, as opposed to ANWR, bring the country and the world to a far more healthy, far more viable long-term energy policy.

It's as if we're in a flood we/they could see coming, at first they denied it was going to rain, then they denied it would be much of anything, then they denied the flood would rise up high enough, then they said that the sandbags would fill themselves, and then finally as the waters invaded their home and they filled a sand-bag, they want to jump and shout and claim they stopped the flood, and that the other people, building locks and dams to control flood rains, are fools, aren't doing anything, and are the REAL problem.

It reminds me of Senator McCain, who was irrefutably wrong for 3.5 years, breaking his arm patting himself on the back because Patraeus wasn't as incompetent as Tommy Franks, claiming the ends justified the means.

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