Thursday, April 27, 2006
The Drill Is Gone
As I indicated the other day, Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy is my current big read. I have actually been layering in James Risen's shorter but also compelling State of War: George W. Bush and the CIA. (More about which soon.)
Phillips begins Theocracy with an interesting thesis: hegemony in the modern world can best be linked to mastery of a fuel source that, when coupled with technology, leads the way to the Next Big Thing. Therefore the Dutch, with their mastery of wind and water, were responsible for significant innovations (and their own tulip-crowned version of exploration and imperialism), followed by the British combination of coal, iron, and the railroad, which led became 19th century industrial revolution. America's star turn has been the 20th century exploitation of petroleum, its own and other nations', and therein lies the tale.
An important historical lesson has been the inability of whatever dominant nation to adjust to changes in the technology and its accompanying fuel requirement. Notice that the Dutch and the British just aren't what they used to be as world powers. (Somehow, I think that must be something of a relief. I am world power-weary, if only vicariously.)
The decline of major oil discoveries (like that of Spindletop, a former major gusher on the Gulf Coast, pictured above), provides us with our next major challenge. Simply put, the big oil areas have been pumped down; further extraction requires more pressure and is more expensive. Newer discoveries around the globe do not replace the earlier finds. The supply is past peak. The future lies in other sources, other technologies.
Will we move past the hollow rhetoric of an oilman lecturing us on our oil addiction, to significant innovation, or is Brazil the next world power? Can we develop a vision for the good life that doesn't depend on the military seizure of the resources of others? Can we move past the stupidity of entitlement to a vision that justifies our world leadership?
Note to Al Gore: Thanks for the good movie, articles, speeches. Now, what are you doing for the next 6-8 years?
Unless they are being used in whatever industry the driver is employed in, they represent an almost Freudian level of fear and a paranoid desire for safety.
My neighbors across the street, for example, are a lovely couple in their 40's- she's an elementary school administrator and he's in the sign industry, who drives a company owned truck when he's working. They also have a nice young daughter who just started college.
Between the three of them, they have four full sized pick-up trucks- and our neighborhood is only four miles from downtown!
This mindset has to be changed.
Their desire to be higher than other drivers or safe from collisions, or whatever drives them to overconsume gasoline is killing us all at the pumps.
I dunno... it's not as if they are armored...
You, dear Lulu, are reading my next book!!! since I am out of work on disability for a minimum of a month..I plan to start it in the next week or so..don't spoil the ending for me :P
But do read it.