By David L. Brown
According to an article in the New York Times online edition today, some experts predict gasoline will hit four dollars a gallon by this Spring. The comments were based on the fact that crude oil closed today at $100.08 a barrel, an all-time closing high that firmly puts the world price of oil above the one hundred dollar mark. According to The Times:
On Tuesday, diesel prices rose to a record $3.60 a gallon, compared with $2.62 a gallon last year.
For a decade, rising oil prices had failed to dent global economic growth. In the United States, consumers absorbed the higher costs thanks to easy credit and rising prosperity, while in developing countries, government subsidies helped ease the pain. The rise in energy prices was a result of growing demand around the world.
The price of oil has quadrupled in six years, and Tuesday’s close was not far below the inflation-adjusted all-time high set in April 1980, after the Iranian revolution. That record, $39.50 a barrel, equals $103.76 in today’s money.
We have been talking about oil here at Star Phoenix Base for a long time. I was introduced to the subject in-depth about 15 years ago by my fellow author Val Germann, and no doubt he will have something to say about this latest news. What he introduced me to back in the early 1990s was the Hubbert Curve, a classic bell curve which predicted that oil supplies would eventually peak and then decline. In fact, according to the Hubbert Curve, they were seen to peak … right … about … now! As indeed they are doing.
The Times decries the fact that the rising oil prices come at a bad time for the economy, as if this were just some unfortunate coincidence. In fact, that is rather like putting dessert before the main course. The steadily rising price of petroleum, which is at many times its historic price relative to other commodities, lies at the root of the problem. Our economy is wide open to dire difficulties precisely because it is so completely reliant upon an ever increasing flood of petroleum — a flood that is turning into a faltering flow.
Well, the economy probably deserves what it gets, because for many of us who were paying attention, and based on Dr. M. King Hubbert’s work more than a half century ago, the situation in which we find ourselves should be no surprise. We have had decades to prepare for this and we have royally squandered the opportunity, particularly here in the U.S. where we as a nation have steadfastly continued to build gas guzzling cars and energy inefficient houses and to use oil and its many products as if there were no tomorrow. Now, there well may be “no tomorrow,” at least for the world as we know it.
There is a simple everyday word to describe what we, collectively, have engaged in concerning our energy future. Come on, class, let’s spell it all together: S-T-U-P-I-D-I-T-Y. Right, stupidity. That shall be our text for today.
Of course, things are never that simple and as always we must factor in greed, ignorance, and even fundamentalist ravings about the riches of the Earth as a gift to humankind from some all-wise deity, ours to use as we wish before going to our heavenly reward. But in the end, stupidity is as good a word as any to describe the situation.