Sunday, July 20, 2008

History -- A True Record of Real Events Which Actually Happened

Discussion boards can drive a person nuts, because you have one group of people saying "Gas prices only went up dramatically after Bush took office," and another group saying, "No, there were price rises and shortages that were Carter's fault," etc.

I can understand why people argue about "What's the right thing to do now?" or even why they disagree about the significance of past events. But arguments about what actually happened in the past are dumb. There is, after all, a historical record.

The history of fuel prices closely follows the ups and downs of crude oil prices.

In recent times, the price of crude jumped up from historically low levels below $20/bbl at the time of the Yom Kippur War, when it spiked up to over $40. That was in '73, and besides the dramatic price rise there were shortgages due to an Arab embargo on oil exports to the U.S.

The price remained at that level until the early '80's, when there was another big spike upward at the time of the Iranian Revolution, and it continued to rise during the time of the Iran-Iraq War, when it went up to about $70. People were really hollering then, as the price of gas went way over $2.

But that spike didn't last long, and oil fell gradually over the next few years until it reached very low levels slightly over $20, and even fell below that mark briefly in the late '90's. Never to return, one might add.

As a response to extremely low prices, OPEC cut production and the price started back up, but it didn't really take off until after 9/11. It rose precipitously after 9/11, and then the upward trend became almost vertical in '03, with the Iraq War, more OPEC cuts, and the weakening dollar under the neocon Bush administration.

See this comprehensive and easy-to-read graph at the petroleum market site WTRG.

History matters, and the people who say the catastrophic rise in oil and gas prices occurred during the GW Bush years are right. It probably would have happened even if the Democrats had been in power though. Bush didn't cause peak oil, but his administration didn't respond to the situation, which has now become an emergency. I doubt that any Democrat (except Big Al) would have done more, however.

Global warming -- the twin crisis of peak oil -- began when James Watt invented the steam engine and has spiked in a manner similar to the recent rises in the price of oil over the last 50 years, when fossil fuel consumption doubled, then doubled again. To those who cling to the lies of global warming denial, I can assure you that I saw it with my own eyes when I escaped from California via the Central Valley on the seventh of this month. In California the undebatable effects of human activity on the earth's fragile environment are clearly visible to all but the blind.


1 comment:

Joe said...

The climate change problem is why the "drill more" argument seems dumb to me. It is like taking drugs with bad side effects. Careful analysis might reveal that you are better off, overall, without the drugs.