Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oil Slick or Oil Sick ?...Tuesday, July 1. 2008

Every time you turn on the news these days we are bombarded with reports of the ever-increasing price of oil. If you don't listen to the news, you certainly will notice it when you fill up your vehicle with gas or diesel fuel. Our leaders in North America are more focused on finding more sources of oil and getting the oil producing nations to produce more to fuel our addiction to it. North America and a large portion of the world are addicted to oil. If we don't change our way of thinking and find alternative energy sources we will have an economic catastrophe not seen since the great depression.

It is not just the personal use of cars that we have to worry about. If you think that you will be OK because you don't drive… think again!! The cost of transporting all the food we eat is escalating. The cost of operating a farm that produces our food is increasing steadily. The cost of transporting and producing other products we consume increase when the price of oil increases. One example recently is the Dow Chemical Company recently raising prices by as much as 40 percent. Dow Chemical makes everything from the propylene glycols used in antifreeze, coolants, solvents, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, to acrylic acid-based products used in detergents, wastewater-treatment and disposable diapers. The company's raw ingredient costs as well as transportation costs have increased drastically. Now may transportation companies including trucking businesses charge customers fuel surcharges. Airline companies are implementing fuel surcharges, cutting routes and cutting jobs.

The US government wants to overturn a 26-year ban on offshore oil drilling. As well, many now consider the Arctic as a hotbed for future oil production. The paradox here is that global warming is melting much of the ice in the arctic region. Melting ice means that drilling for this oil will be much easier. More human arctic activity could spell an environmental catastrophe killing off many species and further hastening the melting of the polar ice shelf. In addition to environmental concerns, getting oil in these regions is more expensive and the costs will certainly be passed on to the consumer.

Many people (even Americans) think that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being fought over oil. There is a large pipeline that ships Saudi oil running through Afghanistan. This is oil that helps feed the North American hunger for fuel. Many lives have been lost due to the war in these countries. There are many other countries in the world with unstable, inhumane governments that US forces have not invaded. Ironically many of those countries do not have oil. Consider this: The US army and air force are perhaps the most powerful on the planet. Take away the oil to power these institutions and the US defence system becomes extremely weak.

Our dependence on oil leaves us very vulnerable as citizens. We are held hostage to forces that dictate the price of oil. Some say it is speculation on the markets. Others believe that there is a shortage and we are running out. What happens if we have major hurricanes in the oil refining regions of the US? What happens if there is an act of terrorism on an oil producing country? What happens if tensions escalate between the US and Iran? These scenarios will certainly push the price of oil even higher. Oil is the backbone of our modern civilization. Without it, the world as we know it ceases to exist. With expensive oil or scarcity of it, our standard of living declines. There is only one way to avoid an economic nightmare. We need to focus on implementing alternative sources of energy before it is too late. Let's not wait for this to happen. The time to act is now.

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