Thursday, July 10, 2008

Consuming the Fourth of July

Here are the opening grafs of Katie's column yesterday:

This was supposed to be Minnesota's summer that wasn't. Four-dollar gas and fear of economic free-fall were supposed to force us to skip our vacations and settle for the municipal pool and the back porch.

But as I surveyed the scene on westbound Interstate 94 last weekend, it was clear that half the state wasn't listening.

Some of the cars headed to Brainerd, Nisswa and points north were towing high-tech craft designed for stealth attacks on unsuspecting walleyes. Others towed testaments to testosterone -- bullet-shaped speedboats with motors that looked as if they could power a small aircraft carrier. Mostly, though, I saw ordinary cars crammed with young and old, and their North Country paraphernalia.

And Katie was right there with 'em, celebrating the burning of hydrocarbons! We'll keep right on doing it! Nobody can tell us how to live; we're Americans!

Spot detects, however, a plaintive note in Katie's words. Perhaps a small desperation? The cancer patient in denial?

James Kunstler, Spot's favorite Malthusian, undoubtedly thinks so:

Every time I saw a car towing a motorboat this holiday weekend, I wondered what was going through the head of the [tow-er]. Did they have a sense that darkness was falling on their careers in motor sports? Did they have an inkling that an oil-and-gas crisis is upon us and just not give a shit? Or were they just going through the motions, following some implacable rote programming induced by, say, forty-odd years of TV addiction and a diet based on corn-syrup byproducts?

The holiday to me was a creepy hiatus from an ever more desperate reality overtaking the nation like a miasma. Meanwhile, the mainstream media's ongoing narrative has gotten stuck in the moronic groove of "drill drill drill." The belief of people like Larry Kudlow of CNBC and uber-mega-idiot John Stossel of ABC-News is that we could go back to $1.50 gasoline if only congress would open the offshore exploration areas and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This view is just plain erroneous. Nothing we get out of these regions will come close to offsetting the ongoing depletion of worldwide oil resources, or even arresting our own losses.

Drill, drill, drill is the Republican mantra, of course. Hell, if we're willing to kill people over oil, why be so squeamish about a few caribou? Or fish, for crying out loud! It doesn't make any sense.

Katie's column was elegiac, even though she really didn't know it.

Nick Coleman actually tied it up pretty neatly this morning in the Strib:

To see how deeply we are addicted to oil, check out the election-year pandering of the politicians promising to restore our God-given right to cheap gas by making sure the Chinese don't buy Cuba's.

What a pathetic country we have become. It's like watching a drunk search through his pockets for enough nickels and dimes to buy one more quart of Ripple. Only, we're the drunk.

We think we could solve our troubles if we started drilling on the outer continental shelf. Then we might be able to lower the price of gas to $3.98 gallon. Twenty years from now.

That's because oil is priced in a global market, where the extra production would amount to a tiny drop in the world's bucket -- about 200,000 barrels a day. Whoopee. [Spot thinks that world consumption is around 86 million barrels a day, with the US consuming about a quarter of that total].

Spotty are we going to run out of oil?

Well, yes, grasshopper. But don't worry, we'll probably run out of money first.

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