Energy Concerns: Today and Jimmy Carter

Posted: April 25th, 2008 by: h-2

Interesting times, more and more people are starting to do the unthinkable: tell the truth. Well, ok, ignore his ridiculous babble about Large Oil Companies being better at extracting oil than Large Oil Service companies like Halliburton, Schlumberger, who do most of the advanced oil field work for many of the planet’s biggest oil producing nations.

Ok, he’s also unable to say the words: peak oil, and prefers to try to blame the producing nations for not pumping enough rather than admit the far simpler reality that they simply are experiencing finite geological constraints (pdf, new by Matt Simmons) that limit their ability to create higher flow rates.

In addition, politicians throw red meat to the crowd by promising to punish the oil industry for its huge profits, overlooking the small problem that much of this profit is not even made in the United States. In fact, it is not the oil companies, but producing countries like Venezuela, Mexico, Iran and Russia that are provoking the pending production crunch through lack of investment. National oil companies now control nearly 80 percent of worldwide reserves, leaving major Western multinationals with full access to only 6 percent.
Politicians have embraced ethanol as a policy that is good for consumers, the environment and farmers. Let’s be honest: ethanol is a great farm-subsidy program, but it is a multibillion-dollar distraction as an energy solution, and a mistake for both food prices and the environment. Corn prices have more than tripled since the end of 2005 despite record harvests, and ethanol’s net environmental benefits look increasingly dubious when we examine the large amounts of energy, water and fertilizer our farmers use to produce corn. Yet Congress—like King Canute commanding the tides—now wants biofuels production increased from seven to thirty-six billion gallons per year. Regrettably, we do not have the technology, land or water to produce that volume.

The brutal fact is that we do not know how to offset oil with other fuels on the scale that is required. Let me repeat this: there is no alternative energy elixir just waiting in the wings. So, if we cannot increase the supply of oil, then we must cut demand—ideally through efficiency and conservation.

But once again we see politics trumping economics. Government policy should encourage outcomes, but not mandate specific solutions and technologies—especially not those pushed by lobbyists.
J. Robinson West: former assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior, chairman of PFC Energy, Inc.

So finally people are beginning to understand the enormity of the crisis. Too bad they didn’t listen to Jimmy Carter back in the 1970s, who understood the long term repercussions of the energy problem back when it would still have been easy to fix it!

What’s so annoying about all this is having to have read this utter nonsense about a senile moron like Ronald Reagan over the last decade being proclaimed as some type of ‘great leader’ when all he did was open the door for catastrophic collapse by removing all the programs that Jimmy Carter had tried to put in place to actually start dealing with the energy and resource issues before it was too late!.

It’s somewhat incredible to go back and read Carter’s words in the 1970s:

Ten days ago I had planned to speak to you again about a very important subject — energy. For the fifth time I would have described the urgency of the problem and laid out a series of legislative recommendations to the Congress. But as I was preparing to speak, I began to ask myself the same question that I now know has been troubling many of you. Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.
What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another.
We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.
In little more than two decades we’ve gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It’s a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation. The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.
Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war. Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.
I do not promise you that this struggle for freedom will be easy. I do not promise a quick way out of our nation’s problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will enforce fairness in our struggle, and I will ensure honesty. And above all, I will act. We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.
Jimmy Carter, speech, July 15, 1979

Now, when is the last time you heard ANY current politician speak this plainly?

We did not accept the challenge back then, but opted for the fantasies of Reagan’s trickle down, flood upward, economics, then we decided that was not enough, we wanted more, and went for the Clinton/Bush era’s idea of no sacrifice ever, bigger cars, bigger houses, then finally, no payment house purchasing.

Carter was the last rational president we had in this country, and we are not likely to get another one I’m sad to say. All the problems that Carter talked about 30 years ago are worse today, more deeply embedded in our social selves, in the society at large. Greed is now considered so normal that it’s not even thought worthy of comment.

The 7 cardinal sins (Lust; Gluttony; Greed; Sloth; Wrath; Envy; Pride) of the Catholic church are not moral virtues, they are a biological survival guide for a species long term success, and we are making virtues of vice today. Sadly they currently form the basic requirements for success in the Corporate world, and seem to be the main qualities that drive most Republicans in this country, and many Democrats. Most of whom now hope to have lucrative careers in the private, lobbying sector, after their government ‘service’ is finished.

If you never read it, Dante, in his Divine Comedy, placed those who violate the public trust right at the feet of Satan, in the inner of inner circles in Hell. And that for good reason.

You cannot place personal and social greed on a pedestal and expect long term success. You cannot tell the most greedy that they deserve more. This is what we have done. On every level, everywhere in the world, from the starving in Africa who still want more children, to the Wall Street banker who thinks that he deserves a 100 million dollar golden parachute even though he just drove his firm into bankruptcy.

Carter was right in the 1970s, and he’s even more right today. It’s time to look back at a time before lobbiests dominated our political system, and manipulated all forums for political discourse, and realize that not only was it not always this way, it does not need to be this way today.

What’s even sadder about rereading that speech is that some of the hoped for future ‘solutions’ are proving to be total dreams in terms of being viable long term replacements for Oil. Coal is an environmental disaster, tar sands and shale oil are massively inefficient to mine and process, and will never be more than temporary stopgaps in the process of moving to a massively slimmed down level of energy and commodity consumption.

You have to really separate the true renewables, like solar thermal, wind, tide, etc, from the ones that just push the problem to a new commodity, like the rare metals like gallium, indium (whose prices are skyrocketing already) and other exotic materials used in thin film solar, to the quickly depleting uranium, to anything involving coal and its subsequent CO2 emission problems.

To envision the real solution, imagine your resource and energy use is at most 20% of what it is now. Then less over time. That is what the real solutions will look like, anything else is just trying to postpone the inevitable.

People are not adding up the pieces. Global shipping breaks down as diesel and ship bunker fuel prices skyrocket. Air travel collapses as airlines lose the economies of scale that cheap fuel allowed. Even road construction begins to change radically as asphalt/tar begins to escalate rapidly in price. And this is all happening now, not in the future. And we’re only at $120 a barrel oil

One Response to “Energy Concerns: Today and Jimmy Carter”

  1. Tartie says:

    It’s sad to see that what Carter said nearly 30 years ago would have probably gotten him assassinated if he spoke out like that now. That or maybe I’m being a bit pessimistic here. Bit of both, maybe.

    Scary scary stuff. Amazing that the average person can still believe wholeheartedly in what this gov’t is saying. Astounds a thinking person. And kind of scares the crap out of her as well.