Sunday, April 03, 2011

Low-Hanging Fruit

Obama's Libya campaign/non-war has reeked of Kosovo since day one, cynical and half-assed to its very core, and newer info only reinforces the similarities:
Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a "yes" vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya - the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

The revelation came from two different diplomats, a European and a member of the BRIC group, and was made separately to a US scholar and Asia Times Online.
Well, of course, it figures as much. The Saudis will do damn near literally anything to prevent anything resembling a true democratic uprising, including invading its neighbors. And not entirely without reason, from just about every standpoint -- the Saudi populace teems with young, unemployed, ultraconservative men, not exactly a cure for high gas prices.

And what of all that, anyway? Where in Obama's recent homilies to energy independence has the notion of conservation, of reducing not only consumption but waste, been seriously mentioned? The White House's own energy page pays scant lip service to the idea in its extensive back-patting laundry list, with a brief nod to "increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks for Model Years 2014-2018". Oh, okay. Well, now that we've got the when (several years down the road, per usual, so whatever claque of gutless poseurs has the reins then can simply eviscerate the measures, however modest), from what to what? Doesn't say, just a brief mention about how "trucks consume more than two million barrels of oil every day, and average 6.1 miles per gallon."

So the path to "energy independence" includes finding new and better ways of deepwater offshore drilling (which has worked out spectacularly in the Gulf of Mexico), and investing heavily in such low-EROEI techniques as shale oil (basically melting chunks of a mountain, and dealing with the hazardous waste) and buying tar-sands oil (basically steaming the oil out of enormous volumes of sand and soil, and dealing with the hazardous waste) from Canada.

None of this takes into account that these are not long-term methods for retrieval, that even beyond the environmental issues, there is the matter of physics and math. The oil is getting more and more difficult to get to, while demand just keeps increasing. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the best way to stretch whatever supplies remain is to conserve. This used to not be a bad word, before marketers figured out that far too many 'murkins cannot help themselves when it comes to self-actualizing through their choice of vehicle.

I say this not as a hater of the internal combustion engine -- I have worked in the manufacturing and motorcycle industries in the past, and appreciate many makes of car for the works of functional art they truly are. There is a freedom and a vigor to the simple act of driving that is difficult to replicate in the workaday drudgery that comprises the majority of existence for the lower 90% of the Globalized Corporate Merchant Principalities of the Yew Ess Ayy.

But we are running out, and that pace will only continue to accelerate as supplies dwindle further and demand ramps up, and maybe someone in the decision-making class oughta stand up and murmur in the affirmative that it may not be the most intelligent idea to drive everywhere in a jacked-up Suburban like some strutting ofay asshole.

This doesn't automatically mean that the bombing of Libya is all about oil, unless of course it is. But even if it is not, one finds more often than not that blowback from foreign policy decisions (or lack of) frequently correlates with blowback from energy policies (or lack of). This is from a lack of coherence, of principle, of even a modicum of foresight and a minimum of discipline.

Shaw was, of course, devastatingly correct in opining that youth is wasted on the young,and that frivolous mentality is certainly writ large in this instance. It is not that living for today is necessarily bad, or that people should live quiet lives of deprivation any more than they already do. But when people live only for today, and collectively pretend that tomorrow will never come, and are shocked when it does show up and there are consequences to pay, it's kinda hard to feel sorry for them when they wonder why gas is going to be five bucks a gallon by Labor Day.

Update: Ahahaha. Of course, it figures. Even as we lob missiles at Qadafi, at $1M per, we're also bailing out his bank. I know I spent a great deal of the Cheney regime kvetching about their consistent incompetence, but sweet jeebus, these chumps give them a run for their stolen money at nearly every turn.

1 comment:

Bob Hopeless said...

Heywood, you are always witheringly on point and a pleasure to read. Just to touch on one point - Shaw's comment was focused on the young- unfortunately, most Americans who carry on like spoiled jerks with no knowledge of a world outside their own immediate interests don't even have the excuse of youth - they are full grown "adults" who just happen to have less insight and empathy than your average tweenager, and take pains to constantly elect those who will continue to indulge them in their childishness.