David Zondy is taking a look at resources and the ginned up fear of not enough.
As an Englishman living in America, where Marmite is hard to come by, I'm all too familiar with the concept of scarcity, but a lack of resource in a local or a particular instance is a very different kettle of fish from absolute scarcity. The Malthusian idea of overpopulation leading to the gobbling up of finite resources has been around for a couple of centuries now and what is remarkable about it is how it has proven so consistently wrong–especially when it tries to lay the blame on the doorstep of civilised, industrial nations. I'll grant you that the image of some future New York where a hundred million people live cheek by jowl in polluted squalor until the oil runs out and then they fall on one another like starving rats as nations go to war over what scraps are left does have a certain dramatic appeal in a Mad Max sort of way, but the real world doesn't and never has worked like that.Which brings up the question of oil. Is there enough or has oil output peaked and the inevitable decline begun?
Overpopulation is a problem, but only locally in certain, to be blunt, backward parts of the world and even there the problem isn't too many people, but too many tyrants robbing them blind. They don't suffer so much from overpopulation as poverty. A village of a hundred people ruled by a dictator with only enough food for fifty and no way to buy more is "overpopulated". A city of a free ten million that can import more than it needs is not.
In a word - no. There is plenty of oil in the ground at current prices. Is that true? Well lets do an inventory to check that assertion.
...the world oil shortage is political, not geological. In the U.S., the government makes it virtually impossible to drill in new areas offshore. In Nigeria, civil strife has shut down major production. In Libya and Iran, Washington effectively blockaded and isolated the nations for years to inhibit new production. In Iraq, of course, the U.S. destroyed much of the infrastructure since the first Gulf war in 1991 and then blockaded reconstruction. In nations such as Russia and Mexico nationalism and corruption curtail increased production.That is pretty amazing, but there is more.
Outside of developed Western countries, the single largest reason for oil "shortages" is government incompetence and ownership of the subsoil rights so that landowners don't benefit from oil discoveries. In Patagonia, Argentina (a nation with abundant oil), I was told how it was common for landowners to try to hide any evidence of oil seepages from underground, lest the government oil company come in and ruin their lands with no benefit to themselves. Private mineral rights ownership is the reason some 90 percent of all oil wells drilled have been in the U.S. Scientific advances and innovative engineers keep coming up with ways to both discover new fields and keep old ones in production almost indefinitely.
ANWR could become the fastest way to generate hundreds of billions of dollars of new oil. But laws need to be changed to fast track the leasing (there are 11 litigation choke points) and to create special courts to expedite environmental issues, as recently proposed by Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.). Under current laws, it could indeed take 10 years to produce oil, compared to two or three years for the actual drilling and pumping. Additionally, leasing is done slowly, thanks to laws written when oil was plentiful. Such laws were designed to gain maximum upfront money for the government, not for speed. For example, BP recently paid $1.2 billion for a new offshore lease, some 400 miles east of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay. The cost and distance gives some idea of industry expectations as to the extent of oil reserves.Well what do you know. Politics is causing higher oil prices in America. And who are the politicians against more American oil? The Democrats.
Washington has become paralyzed by dysfunctional government. France and China can build nuclear electric plants in just years; in the U.S. it takes a decade. Brazil will bring offshore oil online in 24 months, while for U.S. companies it takes 10 years. New refineries are virtually illegal to build. New electricity-generating plants using coal are now unable to obtain financing because of environment constraints.What do American resources of natural gas look like? About 150 trillion cubic feet of gas can be obtained by drilling and 590 trillion cubic feet are in gas hydrates. More than enough to last until we have other sources of power in sufficient quantities.
This is destroying the value of the dollar and wrecking our balance of trade, making oil prohibitively expensive, and sending hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign lands—many of whom are no friends of America. No wonder 80 percent of Americans think their nation is on the wrong track. Washington needs to declare a national emergency program to produce energy. The reasons we don't are political, not technical. Indeed, new natural gas discoveries have knocked U.S. prices down by about 30 percent.
Are we done yet? Not by a long shot.
WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes lifting the moratorium on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the Outer Continental Shelf. She won't even allow it to come to a vote. With $4 gas having massively shifted public opinion in favor of domestic production, she wants to protect her Democratic members from having to cast an anti-drilling election-year vote. Moreover, given the public mood, she might even lose. This cannot be permitted. Why? Because as she explained to Politico: "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet."She may lose her job over that one. In fact I hope so.
Here in the U.S., one out of every three ears of corn is stuffed into a gas tank (by way of ethanol), causing not just food shortages abroad and high prices at home, but intensive increases in farming with all of the attendant environmental problems (soil erosion, insecticide pollution, water consumption, etc.).And that does not even count the cost of financing our adversaries Russia, Iran, and our "best friend" Saudi Arabia.
This to prevent drilling on an area in the Arctic one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport that leaves untouched a refuge one-third the size of Britain.
There are a dizzying number of economic and national security arguments for drilling at home: a $700 billion oil balance-of-payment deficit, a gas tax (equivalent) levied on the paychecks of American workers and poured into the treasuries of enemy and terror-supporting regimes, growing dependence on unstable states of the Persian Gulf and Caspian basin. Pelosi and the Democrats stand athwart shouting: We don't care. We come to save the planet!
They seem blissfully unaware that the argument for their drill-there-not-here policy collapses on its own environmental terms.
Did I mention that there are about 2 trillion barrels of oil shale in America and about 3 trillion barrels of tar sands in Canada where exploitation has only started? And don't tell me it costs too much. The Canadians are getting the oil from tar sands at about $15 to $20 a bbl. Oil shale, with water recycling to preserve precious water resources, might run $30 a bbl. We really don't know because the oil companies are not allowed to try. So what is the Republican answer? Watch this video to find out.
We don't have to pay high prices at the pump and send our money to people who don't like us if government would get out of the way. Republicans are on board. How about you Democrats?
Cross Posted at Classical Values