A Voice of Reason?

Every once in a while, someone in power will say something vaguely sensible about the state of our world. Unfortunately, they will often turn around and ruin it right afterwards. That is precisely what US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman did this week, according to another CNN article on an oil price discussion in Saudia Arabia (remarks made by the Saudis are addressed here). He began promisingly enough:

“‘All nations must be better at conservation, and the U.S. is at the top of that list,’ said Bodman, who is attending a international meeting of oil producing and consuming nations focusing on high oil prices in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

“Although some have blamed speculators for driving up oil prices, Bodman said he did not believe that they are the cause.”

Mr. Bodman continued to point out, as this blog has argued, that the oil price issue was simply one of supply and demand. He cited continuously growing global demand for oil, particularly in China and India, and the lack of growth in oil supplies. He lays out a remedy:

“Nations need an additional supply of energy to market, whether that energy is nuclear, coal, fossil fuels, solar or wind power, Bodman said.

“But, ‘we spent 30 years digging ourselves into this hole,’ he said. ‘It won’t be solved soon.'”

The suggestion of fossil fuels is a bit short-sighted, but it would be naive to assume that we can swear off fossil fuels overnight. Remember though, other fossil fuels are finite, just like oil is. Coal in particular produces a lot of pollution. However, kudos to Mr. Bodman for pointing out that this problem is not going to go away. I never expected such candor. Then he falls into the usual trap:

“But Bodman said what he’d like to see is an increase in the oil inventory, saying more inventory and capacity is needed.”

Just when it seemed that someone within the government was finally going to stop preaching some made-up, quick fixes, Mr. Bodman resorted to the usual rhetoric of pumping up more oil. When there is a finite supply of something, digging it up faster is not going to help matters. Any person who declares that we need to “produce” more oil, shows total obliviousness to the issue of peak oil. Be it his intention or not, Mr. Bodman’s words are cast in the CNN article as an endorsement of the rush to drill in the Outer Continental Shelf, a risky proposition with regards to tourism and environmentalism that will produce very little oil.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi, I just came across your post via technorati, and it’s nice to see someone else against all the “Drill! Drill! Drill!” propaganda that seems to have started up lately.

    A couple of my recent posts you might like (I quoted you in the second):

    http://layscience.net/?q=node/140
    http://layscience.net/?q=node/156

  2. It’s good to hear someone acknowledge that drilling won’t solve our problems, but maintaining inventory levels and increasing capacity are both necessary to prevent shortages. Pretty much we need as much energy we can get from as many sources as possible, unless we find a way to reduce our energy intensity magically.

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