And then sometimes it’s hard just figuring out what to excerpt from a piece so full of gems. Example: James Howard Kunstler reports from the NY International Auto Show in Orion Online
Each brand of car had… what amounted to extended TV commercials of
the kind with which we have been so constantly bombarded over the
decades that they barely register anymore. But it is interesting to
actually pay attention, because they uniformly send a bizarre message:
You are all alone in your car in a beautiful environment….just you
and the open road! This is obviously an old and alluring archetypal
dream, and it is also obviously at odds with the more common reality of
creeping down Route 17 in Hackensack, or some ghastly highway like it,
with traffic backed up at the frequent stoplights and vistas of the
entropic horror of American hyper-retail amid wastelands of free
parking at every compass point.
But these displays were little more than transparent public relations efforts intended to put across the message: No problemo!
[A]mong the people I spoke with at random [the] delusions were
strikingly florid, in fact, the most common and basic one being that
America possesses a bountiful supply of oil — if only the sundry
enviro-freaks and corporate chiselers would let us at it.
The facts, sadly, belie that notion. United States oil reserves stand
at about 28 billion barrels (if you include natural gas condensates). I
am not speaking here of the government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve
(SPR), which is a tiny fraction of this, but of the total amount of
crude oil left underground anywhere in the fifty states: 28 billion
barrels. Now, Americans use more than 20 million barrels of oil a day.
That’s 100 million every five days. That’s a billion (1,000 million)
every fifty days. That’s — give or take — seven billion barrels of
oil a year. If for some reason our oil imports were cut off and we had
to depend solely on our own oil, our total reserves would last four
measly years. Actually a bit less if you figure that a portion of that
oil will never be pumped out for practical and economic reasons.
(Kunstler is author of the forthcoming book, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century, recently excerpted in Rolling Stone.)
Forget the ‘red state, blue state, me state, you state’ dance of
distraction. Sign up now for the new culture wars of peak oil vs
infinite horns of endless plenty.