Monday, April 23, 2012

all throttles open, strokin for broke

I went to Jim Kunstler's blog first thing after getting up this morning, as I usually do on Mondays, but for the first time found the old doomer not only boring and predictable, but not as useful as I would like in helping us pinpoint our position.

Kunstler's great talent over the past seven years, which is as long as I've been reading him, has been his ability to locate the precise spot in western civ's downward trajectory we've reached at any given moment. That, and predicting how the next crisis will unfold -- the one our rulers and their mouthpieces are working overtime to convince us will never happen.

However, this morning he trotted out some familiar Jeremiads, and throughout seems to think the present crisis is going to play out very quickly, while I'm thinking the climate fiasco will unfold much more slowly, and finally be resolved without much actual human intervention, except for those forces Republicans like to call "the markets."

You may have asked yourself why we're still driving cars that run on refined petroleum, and the answer is simply that there's a buyers' demand for both. Demand for good old whatever-it-is gets analyzed by the companies that provide the stuff, which determines what kind of stuff and how much of it they're going to provide.

The big deal the Putin government just concluded with Exxon/Mobil (see царь Владимир) tells us a lot about world economics and energy demand. Among other things, it tells us that oil and gas are still going to be the predominant forms of energy 10 years from now.

In other words, we're going to keep smoking. That's what I did, about ten years and half the damage longer than I should have. I can live with the result, but I regret not doing the hard work of changing my ways earlier, just as we all shall, collectively.

So how about 20 years from now? Will our lives still be ruled by fossil fuels then? Don't forget, the "new normal" price of a barrel of crude in now $100, projected by market analysts to sit at $120 by year's end. Plus, in our lifetimes we've seen extraction grow more and more difficult, increasingly dangerous, and more expensive both financially and in terms of the environmental costs.

Oil will still be around in 20 years, but it won't dominate the energy markets the way it does now. In the times to come, people will be scrambling around getting energy from multiple sources, mostly wherever they can grab some without going broke.

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