Friday August 18th 2017

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When you are in a hole……stop digging

Remember that pithy ditty, what was it again, all yeah, “Drlll baby, Drill”?  Michael Steele, the current head of the Republican National Committee came up the phrase and the party faithful chanted it gleefully at the 2008 Republican National Convention.  It made for good TV and it was kind of catchy.

It is also one of the f*%$# stupidest things I have ever heard in my life. ( I tried to find a more eloquent way to phrase my disdain, but after sitting here for 10 minutes I gave up.)  For any elected official to say such a thing reveals that s/he is unfit for any office of responsibility because s/he is either criminally incompetent or completely corrupted by special interests.

And the fact that any person, government official or just your average American can be so gleefully unaware of how the world works is, well, terrifying.

Why is the expansion of off-shore drilling such a bad idea?  Let us count the ways:

Climate Suicide
Global warming represents a profound threat to the survival of most life forms on the planet.  We need a “Man to the Moon” sense of urgency in stopping the burning of ANY fossil fuels.  ANY law, program, activity, incentive, tax break, or subsidy that promotes the continuation, or worse, the expansion of the use of fossil fuels is insane.  It represents societal suicide.

For me, that is a slam dunk, argument over.  But if you want more:

Energy Independence
Proponents argue that the United States should tap into all domestic reservoirs of oil so we can rely less on foreign oil and reduce the price we pay at the pump.  For this to make sense the US domestic oil supply would have to represent a significant percentage of the world oil supply to have any impact on price.  Here is the reality:

Do you think that little yellow slice is going to change our reality?

Simple Fact:  If you drilled EVERYWHERE in the United States that might have oil (on land, in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, and at all off-shore sites) the US, might be able to produce 3% of the worlds oil. 
 
And remember, this doesn’t happen overnight.  It would take 10-20 years before that oil would come online.

And this oil is sold on the world market, not uniquely in the United States.  So the world market determines the price.

The United States consumes 24% of all the worlds oil.

So, we invest billions, wait 10 to 15 years, to add a sliver to the world’s oil supply.  Saudi Arabia simply shuts off  a tap or two and the world market is now down by whatever amount we just added.  Nothing changed.  Drilling would have no impact on the price of gasoline.

Drilling does nothing to improve our energy independence.  And I would argue that following this path makes us much worse off.  Drilling is a costly and dangerous diversion.  While the rest of the world is racing ahead and creating the energy technology of the future, solar technology, wind technology, battery technology, we are investing our time and money in last century’s technology.  During testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works venture capitalist John Doerr stated: “If you list today’s top 30 companies in solar, wind and advanced batteries, American companies hold only 6 spots. That fact should worry us all.” (Read his full, crisp, powerful testimony here).

Wasting time on more drilling ensures that we will simply trade one energy dependence, oil, for another — solar, wind and battery technology.

Peak Oil
Any oil executive will tell you that the world has already reached peak oil or will do so within a decade.  Every aspect of our society is based on the premise of cheap oil.  Our food production system is incredibly oil intensive.  Our transportation system relies on the private automobile — think about our towns and suburbs where you must use your car to go get a loaf of bread, or take the kids to soccer practice, or get to work. Most of our “cheap” products travel up to 12,000 miles from factories in China and other countries.  The world’s demand for oil is growing exponentially — the day there is not enough oil to meet demand, our deck of cards economy will be devastated.  The financial crisis of 2008 will look like a quaint garden picnic.(Think about what happens to a company when their rate of profit INCREASE is less than expected — their stock price can plummet.  Not a drop in profits, not a loss, but just less growth in profits than expected — chaos!).  A mere drop of 5% in oil supply can cause a global economic meltdown.  More data and details on peak oil can be found here.

Life as we know is about to change forever. The sooner we shift away from relying on oil, the better chance we have of surviving the day of reckoning from peak oil.

Human Imperfection
Stubbornly, even maniacally i would argue many still believe that we can create perfect technology.  That we can control all the risks associated with our increasingly complex world.  Get over ourselves.  The BP oil spill may not be contained for 3 months.  It may represent the greatest ecological disaster seen in modern history.

It only takes one mistake to wipe out years of perfection. 

Drill, baby, Drill, is the rant of an drug oil-addict –delirious and disconnected from reality as any heroin addict.

Given these facts, how could a rational person support expanding drilling for oil?

Think, Baby, Think!  (Now that is a ditty with a future.)

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