by Handsome Matt
This is a graphic from a BusinessWeek article called “Endless Oil.” In it, Stanley Reed highlights the fact that technological advancements and innovations have lowered the need for oil. And beyond that, rising costs are making previously unusable reserves, profitable.
I’m hardly pro drilling, most definitely not “drill, baby drill.” This is the same as giving more cocaine to an addict, because at the very least, they’re happier while high.
Advances in innovation and technology that more efficiently use a resource however are great. It provides us some breathing room, some wiggle room, as we transition to a better economy. This only buys us time, it doesn’t solve the inherent issues with current practices.
Apart from the pollution caused by drilling, refining, transporting, and then burning oil (and its various products), there is a flaw with thinking that greater reserves of oil or greater drilling and refining capacity will equal lower prices. This isn’t true.
We currently have reserves of oil waiting to be used. “Traders are storing enough crude at sea to supply the 27-nation European Union for more than three days” according to writers Alaric Nightingale and Alexander Kwiatkowski. The US has similar such reserves, both untapped and held in strategic locations. The strategic reserves are in case of war, to safeguard the mobility of our armed forces and infrastructure.
We’ve already tasted how scarce oil can be. And the speculators, companies and countries that drill and refine oil have tasted how great their profits can be. This has created the current price roulette we now face. Prices will never again be stable, nor consistent. They will continue to fluctuate back and forth between lows and highs, never quite returning to their original lows, and never quite stopping at their previous highs. As such, we are basically stuck at the greed of a few entities.
A Small Hope
When reports of this nature come out, it seems to me that their goal is to distract the public from pursuing changes that would negatively affect oil companies, OPEC, and others intimately tied to the ridiculous amounts of money in the oil market.
However, we need to look at this as a small hope. This buys us time, and it also shows that research, technology, and innovation work. While we’re increasing the efficiency in how we use oil, we also need to be working twice as hard to roll out clean alternatives. Alternatives that actually work.
Again, the hope is that we now have time. At least a few years to allow us to jump start research and transition ultimately to what is best. Not only for ourselves but for the world.
Check it Yourself:
Endless Oil – BusinessWeek article by Stanley Reed
Historic Prices – Graphic of historic prices of oil from 1861 onwards.
Tanker Glut – Full article where the Nightingale Kwiatkowski quote is from.