Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Drill Everywhere! Then Embrace Extinction.

Oil production is falling (because the great existing fields are drying up... forever) while demand is increasing as the world continues to industrialize in leaps and bounds. Twenty years ago there were only a couple hundred million U.S. yahoos burning a barrel or so of oil every week or so in their foolishly megalopolitan arrangement. Now that many people in China and India each are upping the ante and expecting to burn as much, too, for their 50-mile commutes, skyscraper construction and air conditioners. (They also expect fossil fuel-based fertilizers to grow more crops to raise more beef.) The world is pumping as much oil as it can and suddenly about three times as many people are lining up for the daily allowance. And it turns out the amount we can get out of the ground daily is actually falling. But the demand is still growing because there are ever more people who expect to be able to drive and adjust the temperatures in their homes and to eat well. This is why prices are skyrocketing.

The falling dollar, the "speculators" (new scapegoating buzzword), and the greedy oil companies all play a part, but in the end demand is growing and supply is falling and that is that. More people want what is forever dwindling in availability. The dollar is always falling because it is every government's mission to destroy its currency over time; That a fiat currency will lose value at varying speeds till it is worthless should be taken as a given. The speculators can run the price up quite a bit, but they're making money because they bet on a sure thing: that oil would skyrocket in price because of the tragic supply/demand scenario that will bring industrial civilization to its knees before administering the coup de grace. And without the "greedy oil companies" and their investments, the people who love to hate these companies wouldn't have any oil at all. People seem to forget that the free market, profit motive, investment and risk are the things that get them the goodies they take for granted. I don't see any of the workaday suburbanites who complain so loudly about the price of oil doing any exploring and drilling. They just love to bash the people who actually find the oil, drag it out of the ground and bring it to market. If one wants to be less beholden to the oil companies, one should adjust one's lifestyle to require less of the stuff their selling. Of course the advice to move to a walkable neighborhood and take mass transit for long trips probably won't do much good as we slide into a permanent neolithic age.

In any case I am all for the drilling in every last patch of earth where we so much as suspect there may be a dram of oil. I can say with a pundit's arrogant certainty that there is not enough oil left outside of the already exploited giant fields to make much of a difference at this point. So we should go ahead and get it out of our systems. Look everywhere and take what can be found. When it proves not to be enough to continue the industrial experiment with 6 billion bipeds, then we can get to the next stage of loss: scapegoating. This will be the time for the frustrated peasantry to behead a few "speculators" and oil company CEO's. I image a war or two between the world's largest industrialized nations will start.

But don't fret. Rather embrace the loss of suburbia along with an unimaginably large chunk of the human population for we have fulfilled our thermodynamic obligation.

The universe is really just a vast collection of hotspots that are all seeking to give off all their energy till the entire cosmos is the same density and the same temperature throughout. The oil, coal and natural gas we've come to know and love are essentially just trapped energy from the sun condensed into physical form; just the remains of the microscopic flora that trapped the sunlight striking the biosphere over a long period of time. Our great task as a species is to free that energy from beneath the earth. That's what we're here for! The universe doesn't care that we fret about the ultimate survival of our descendants, the same way the winemaker doesn't care when countless bacteria drown in their own feces in order for fermentation to take place. We have fulfilled our cosmic onus admirably. That our fortunes as a species reverse afterward really doesn't matter a whit to the universe.