Peak oil

A phrase that is becoming more publicly accepted every day is “Peak Oil,” meaning the time when production of oil will no longer exceed or keep up with consumption.  Propaganda is telling us that we will have to buy cheaper running cars, cleaner burning diesel trucks, insulate our homes better, ride bicycles, cut back on “non-essential uses,” etc.

I am all in favor of economizing our petrol consumption. Cutting down on waste that fills neither a luxury nor a need seems like the first place to look. And there are many, but I would like to focus on the biggest first. Realizing that a large part of our pilot community is ex-military, with what I might call “unwarranted loyalty” to all things military, it is with some trepidation that I make the following criticisms.

Last fall a new “Virginia Class” submarine was launched, first of a plan for about 20. The cost was $2.4 billion, which our government borrowed. Our government seems to have an unlimited bank from which to borrow money, but I can assure you there is no “energy bank” to borrow from. I want to know how much energy went into it — tanker loads, barrels, tons, megawatts, everything, down to the gas used to get to work building it. While one energy supply can be converted to another, with some loss, our main supply, fossil fuels, once burned, are gone. I submit that the above example is a total waste. 

This submarine is neither a cargo carrier nor a pleasure craft, you cannot book a cruise on it, it brings no benefit of any kind. It is representative of the weapons industry as a whole. If we want to extend the “non-essential use” of fuel for all civil aviation, which is by far recreational, whether private or airline, we will have to come to grips with usage that is a total waste.

It is time for us to consider the ramifications of the total energy  consumption by our military policies from weapons manufacturing, their deployment in practice and in war, the destruction they cause, and their ultimate destruction. How does this impact the world petroleum supply? How much more would there be if we could just cut in half this consumption? By destroying as much as we are, we are in fact accelerating the decline in supply and driving up the price.    

Ed Hemmingson
Albany, Ore.

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