The Oil DeciderPresident Bush joined the election year pandering of his colleagues this morning when he announced that we would stop adding oil to the reserves he refused to tap even when Katrina hit.
This is all well and good, and may save us a cent or two in the long run. But the bigger problem is our general oil appetite (see cute/clever cartoon).
If we as a planet--beginning with us snotty Americans--do not slow down our consumption of oil, we will all be in big trouble. It is an equation so simple that even politicians should understand it (we have put their translation in big letters so all the old white men in Washington can read it):
There is a fixed commodity (ONLY SO MUCH OF ONE THING, AND WE CANNOT MAKE MORE), and ever-increasing inelastic demand (LOTS OF PEOPLE WANT IT, AND WANT IT MORE, NO MATTER THE PRICE). Therefore, at some point, the commodity will be exhausted (OIL GO BYE-BYE).
There are ethical issues with the record profits that oil companies are making these days, certainly. But that is nearly all our own doing. We have put off energy reform for years, thanks in large part to Dick and Bush letting oil executives write our energy policy. We can make oil companies give a part of their profits to the consumers, but that will only do what we have been doing: delay real solutions that are inevitably needed.
Somehow many Americans don't realize that the rest of the civilized world pays 2 and 3 times as much for their gas. We have been lucky, and it's time to wake up.
Sadly, this may not happen anytime soon. Congress will have more empty hearings so they can show that they pressed the execs. Prices will temporarily go down this summer once the oil companies finish revamping their refineries to meet environmental standards. And a year from now, we will still see rising prices.
Another reason to pray there isn't another Katrina.