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Fri

13

Apr

2007

Spring Break - Kunstler
Friday, 13 April 2007 13:25
by James Kunstler

Last week, I was in Illinois walking the majestic Beaux Arts-vintage main quad of the State U in Champaign-Urbana. The flowering trees were in full bloom, the grass was green and speckled with dandelions, and the leaves on the privet hedges were unfurling. Then I came home to upstate New York where everything is brown, gray, and dead-looking, and humps of snow still remain on the north side of every building. I called the heating oil man to get 100 gallons because our tank was close to running on fumes and the daily high temperature lingered in the 30s.

This is the flip side of the abnormally warm early winter we had. The jet stream, for whatever reason, has pulled a flag of frigid air over the northeast US, the region which proportionately uses the most oil for home heating, as opposed to natural gas. The weather forecast says they see frigid days and nights as far ahead as they dare to look.

Gasoline use typically shoots up around this time of year as spring breakers hit the road. Meanwhile, US Department of Energy's EIA reports that US refinery inputs are 115,000-barrels-a-day short of their 15-million-barrel-a-day "threshold" (which I take to mean their required capacity to keep things humming), while imported gasoline supplies (we get some of that, too) also fell short. The EIA's monthly report concludes: "...consequently, as gasoline demand began to grow in earnest in April, gasoline supply has failed to keep pace, resulting in continued significant stock declines and sharp upward pressure on gasoline prices in recent weeks." Gasoline prices are now 11.9 cents per gallon higher than at this time last year.

The EIA has to be more reality-based about current activity than their future projections, because the current import-export and refinery figures are out there for other people and other data-gathering organizations to see. The EIA's future projections are a joke. They are based on the fantasy that everything will be okay despite what we see happening now. The EIA projects that all the world's oil producers will increase their oil production hugely by 2030. They see Saudi Arabia shooting up to 17.1 million barrels a day when, in fact, Saudi production fell 7 percent just over the past year alone to 8.4 mm/b/d. They see Mexico shooting way up, despite the announcement last year by Pemex that the Cantarell field (60 percent of Mexico's total production) is crashing at a minimum rate of 15 percent a year. They see Russia zooming way up, despite the fact that Russia is probably past the 70 percent mark of its original total reserves. If you go to this EIA chart, you'll see practically everybody's production shooting way up in the decades ahead, even the US, which, in reality, has seen nothing but steady annual decline for more than thirty years (we produce half now of what we did in 1970).

The EIA is a perfect reflection of the public it serves. It appears to conduct daily business in a responsible way while it resolutely refuses to face the obvious realities of the future. My own town is a good example of non-reality-based planning. Our mayor announced last week that we are going to construct a 1500-space parking structure to go along with an expansion of our minor-league convention center, all based on money raised through bonds. I can't imagine a worse investment. The last thing this town will see in the years ahead is an increase in motor-oriented tourism. And the last thing that business organizations will spend their money on in a future of energy scarcity and diminished revenues will be trade shows.

The price of gasoline seems to be the only signal that the American public receives on its collective walkie-talkie. It looks to me as though gasoline prices will head close to the $4-a-gallon range in some parts of the country this summer. When that happens, the US government, as represented by the DOE's reporting agency (EIA) will not have a coherent story for the public. I imagine as this occurs, the new Democratic-controlled congress will call for hearings to investigate US oil companies. They'll haul in the executives from Exxon-Mobil and the rest of the bunch and threaten them with a punishing windfall profits tax. I wonder if the oil company chieftains will tell the politicians the truth: that peak oil is for real and it's here.
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a guest said:

0
Part of an explanation for George W. Bush
resides in the fact that NOBODY has the courage to stand up and tell the American people the truth about the energy crunch. So we get leaders like Bush and Kerry who are masters at saying what people want to hear. We can win in Iraq," and "I can manage the war better."

Listen to them talk in the beer joints and the diners: There was no shortage of people in 2003 who said out loud that "It's too bad for them poor fuckin' ragheads that they built their shitty little country on top of OUR oil supply." Four years later, most people are upset because we seem to be losing the war but not because of what we've done or attempted to do in Iraq. Just the other day I heard some yahoos talking about how they can't believe our high-tech, expensive military machine can't defeat a bunch of raggedy-assed sand niggers. "Bush is losing on purpose," it was said. "He wants to keep the war going so his rich buddies can make more dough in the defense industry."

Of course you and I know, Mr. Kunstler, the irony of that delusion is that it's at least partially true. People wonder who the next president will be. If we have another elected president, I believe he'll be the one with the balls to stand up in public and declare that he knows how to win in Iraq. May God help us all, and you're welcome.
 
April 13, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
...
One may wonder if those people in the diners and beer joints, who after all finance and support the gangster policy, led by an army of clowns and liars, deserve any better? I'm sure the ragheads are wondering about God's patience with the white trash gangsters, n'est pas?
 
April 23, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
...
Love the Hummer photo. I agree with the previous posts. It does seem like we have become a nation of arrogance and ignorance. I just read an article that claimed 79% of Americans did not realize that plastic products are derived from petrochemicals. God help us!! Keep telling the truth, James. Thanks.
 
April 29, 2007
Votes: +0

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