Getting into the middle of March, obviously many people in the northern hemisphere are having thoughts about Spring. This is especially true in places where Winter is very much still in effect, and usually lasts, in real practical terms, for about half of the year. In the New England region, news reports are about a fresh blast of Winter weather of the kind referred to as “a nor’easter”, while, over in the old England, people seem quite focused on a bit of weather that has been dubbed “the Beast From The East”, which evidently brought a massive snowfall amounting to, from what I gather, about half an inch of snow, causing people to wig out in all sorts of melodrama. This is slightly hilarious to many of us, but, then, I can understand that over there, normal weather is not usually producing any snow this time of year.
With Winter becoming a bit old by now, waiting for Spring is a natural thing, and along with that, I think any people could use a healthy dose of good news.
In the continuing epidemic of politically oriented crazy, I keep finding myself being amazed, puzzled, and appalled by the items that end up either completely lost in the noise, or massively confused.
Richard Heinberg wrote an article discussing a particular item of news that should focus public attention on an essentially important subject, but both the news involved and any rational discussion of it appear to have been swept aside.
The inexplicably ignored news item is that the rate of oil extraction (AKA “oil production”) in the US reached an amount in the neighborhood of 10 million barrels of crude per day, that snuck above the previous record peak rates around 1970 and 1971.
For a start, there is some difficulty in getting the American general public to grasp the significance of the news because it seems very clear that relatively few people even know about the 1970-1971 period peak, and with that, understand the idea of a peak, as explained by the late M.K. Hubbert, the geophysicist who studied patterns of oil discovery and extraction rates and presented his findings in a 1956 research paper.
The term “peak oil” was, as I understand it, later coined as a shorthand reference by Colin Campbell in discussing those patterns and real world data. As I have written before, most people are completely unaware of all that, and, if they vaguely know the phrase “peak oil”, they have no idea what it means, and instead have some fundamentally wrong notion that it is some vague doomsday prophecy about “the oil running out”.
Considering that difficulty, it becomes more difficult, as Heinberg articulates very well, to get people to grasp the oil problem, as people who even notice the news Heinberg is talking about are often likely to simply see it as cheerful news reinforcing their distorted impressions that the US is in some wonderful period of a miraculous “oil boom”, with delusions of “energy independence”, or, in the most severe cases of reality warp, “energy dominance”. An article from Reuters reported the new record rate in an excited little report that casually mentioned something that I suspect would be overlooked by quite a few people all excited about the headline. That was a tidbit about net oil import rates dropping, to a level said to be the lowest since it started being tracked in 2001 (the last part of that is an item I find odd), with the result of the net imports running around 5 million barrels per day.
That’s right, the “good news” is that even with this report of “a new record in US oil production!”, the amount of oil being pumped in the US still needs another 5 million barrels of crude imported each day to make up the shortage for what we actually blow through every day. Part of the delusion and confusion about our oil problems here in the US is that because of the complications of logistics and business, some US crude oil gets exported. People see some item about that and immediately run with it, failing to understand the situation of the US being a net oil importing nation since something like 1950 or thereabouts, and start cheerfully shouting about how they think that we’re pumping out so much oil now, we’re exporting the stuff!
Heinberg’s article does a good job of quickly summarizing how the noise about what some people regard as “the Shale Miracle” is not exactly entirely the rosy news many people would like to think. Almost completely missing from public discussion of oil is the reality of oil depletion that sent people scrounging for tight oil deposits, with all their problems, and the biggest glaring omission, the massive overconsumption of oil that makes this such a problem.
Sensible people like Richard Heinberg and many others, including people under the umbrella of what became known as the New Urbanist movement, have argued for years to get people to understand the problems stemming from the massive binge of suburban sprawl that started in earnest following World War II, but they are still largely ignored, or even dismissed as some sort of silly lunatic fringe.
That is one of the many mammoth sized elephants in the room in the United States today, and really, you could say it’s a pair of them. One is the actual recognition that we have a serious oil depletion problem paired with a massive oil consumption problem. The other is the recognition of our massive and long running overconsumption problem being something that can be attributed to the mindset of spreading everything in America all across the landscape with everything far from everything else, and then covering the vast distances with petroleum fueled vehicles, with the positively insane assumption that, somehow, that could continue forever.
That is a bit of an overstatement, actually, as anybody with a grain of sense always knew it could not continue literally forever, with a finite supply of oil. To be more correct, it clearly seems to be a case where, as I was a young lad growing up in the sixties and seventies, there was a general kind of consensus where people had an attitude that, of course, the oil under the ground in the US would not last forever, but the supply of plentiful oil would not turn into a problem until some vague future era. Despite the 1956 presentation of M. K. Hubbert of his findings about the patterns of oil discovery and extraction rates, and the real world data showing what turned out to be Hubbert’s peak in extraction rates over the years of 1970 and 1971, the country has not really gotten to grips with the reality.
Evidently, it still has not.
Now, of course, this latest report of what is excitedly portrayed as a new record high, showing the wonder and miracle of oil in shale deposits (“tight oil”, not “shale oil”), undermines even what small amount of understanding there was, as more than a few people in public view view the anomaly as evidence of “the discredited theory of Peak Oil” and words like that.
Naturally, and very unfortunately, this subject has become just one of the endless list of areas where everything turns into an extremely stupid political argument.
You know the stuff. I have written about it before. One “side” of the bipolar political disorder psychosis argues that we have all the hydrocarbon fuel resources we could ever desire, only a problem because of political obstructions from The Other Side, while the opposition to this is people locked into a different set of dogmatic nonsense. That includes notions that we can and should simply do everything more or less the same, but simply replacing oil with vague broad notions of clean green renewable alternative energy, which has not happened only because of political obstructions.
The bipolar political disorder has been a continuing theme here because it has become an unavoidable and relentless problem everywhere in damned near everything.
One could argue about whether this affects general public understanding of things like the oil predicament, but it seems to me that it certainly does, as people locked into this affliction fail to understand the circumstances in the subject of oil depletion and overconsumption completely miss the most basic matters involved, choosing to thrash around instead in “political opinion” and focus on making sure that anything they think, do, and say revolves around presenting the correct appearances of their steadfast opposition to The Other Side, whatever that happens to be for them.
I write about this constantly now, for the simple reason that it muddles and confuses everything in a murk of obfuscation. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the severity of the problem. It seems that often even people who see past that cloud of madness tend to avoid pointing it out, as they worry that simply doing their best to sort out facts of a matter and form their own thoughts about them might cause the warring mobs to turn on them as some sort of weirdo.
People appalled by the continuing circus of the presidency of Donald Trump seem to continue to relish the notion of the impeachment and removal of President Trump, while often appearing to spend not a moment thinking of what that would then mean, the beginning of President Pence. Of course, for a lot of those people, there is some vague notion that just goes like “just keep impeaching!”, until, presumably, people would keep being purged until the order of succession got to somebody they found acceptable.
It was some time ago that news broke about President Trump declared a pardon of some large banks for any misbehavior, which just happened to involve banks holding large debts owed to them by Trump. How much is there about that flying around in all the news and general frenzy of public commentary around the WWW?
Nothing. Crickets. Howling wind and tumbleweeds.
Aside from the obvious, the news that practically screams obvious conflict of interest, it also raises once again another glaring bit of the obvious, that should be lighting up all kinds of “red light” alarms. About a full decade past the beginnings of what people called “the financial crisis”, among other names, virtually nothing has happened in the halls of government to address everything involved, in the period so far of Trump administration, just the same as the two full terms of President Barack Obama.
That probably gets tricky for some people in their cognitive malfunctions, among the people who are locked in either their howling that everything was great with Obama as President, and now look, it’s all horribly wrong since Trump arrived, or everything was horrible when Obama was in office, but now Trump has come to save everything and Make America Great Again.