Saturday, July 26, 2008

500 days

Laying aside the possibility that new technology may discover more than the 10.4 billion barrels of oil estimated — by drilling proponents — to be in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge,* our efforts would be slashing in roads and pipelines and spending money getting supplies to the hinterland for a mere 500 days' worth of oil.

Some national legislators spent some dough recently going up to see this place they've been talking about, the United States' own personal oil desert.

Check my math on this, because it seems silly to go and make up 750,000 temporary jobs for only a year or so of oil.** In 2006, the government reports our consumption at 20,687,000 barrels per day. That is about 7.5 billion barrels a year.

It will take a while for all this infrastructure to get in place; until then, what else are they proposing to reduce our dependence (dependence period — foreign or domestic or Martian) on oil? Going up to ANWR will be good for people who own oil-related things and can speculate profitably on small price changes.

And after we have used it up, then what?

I have to agree with Born Again Birdwatcher and others like Birdchick and even FOX News (which quoted a classic example of a closed mind or, "you will only see what you expect to see."***): umm, how can you tell what wildlife exists in a place from a vantage way up in a plane? I'm sure trees are the only plants, and large game the only animals.

Antarctica has but weird wingless flies, some moss and a bunch of birds that can't fly … and what if we find oil under the Grand Canyon? Oh, that sort of thing. Dictionaries should reflect the 21st century change in the meaning of "refuge." Eminent domain rules. Not that I mind using mined materials. We live such messy consumptive lives.

(I am aware of most of my own contradictions, but at least I now understand the meaning of life, the universe and everything: there are 42 gallons of oil in a barrel.)

*If hoped-for additions expanded the proposed drilling area beyond the current 2,000 acres, arguments by Congresswoman Bachmann and others promising that drilling will be limited are contradictory.

**I wonder how many of these jobs are in the Arctic? Yes, let me leave my wife and kids and pay the mortgage from a pioneer-style distance. It's worthy to note, too, that the nine months of snow and three months of darkness the congresswoman points out certainly can't make it very efficient to support workers there.

***Minority Leader John Boehner: "We're going to look at this barren, Arctic desert where I'm hoping to see some wildlife. But I understand there's none there. But I'm still going to look for it. If I find any, I'll let you know."


DKC said...

One consultant who prepared a report on energy security for the government said that drilling in the Arctic area is not a good idea because it relies totally on the Alaskan pipeline for transit to the states. An aging piece of infrastructure that is exceedingly vulnerable to mischief.

meesha.v said...

While I always think that environmentalists overstate and over-dramatize their cause, I agree that politicians bicker about irrelevant amounts of oil, while taking petty worthless measures like extending daylight savings time.