Monday, October 22, 2012

A History of Oil Addiction

Spindletop's Boiler Avenue, 1903
In this series we begin a history of oil addiction, focusing on the aspects of that story from the American viewpoint.

Oil has been discovered and used all around the world, but it was the United States where the oil barons gained and still have prominence.

But what we will see in this series is that it took alliances with industry & government, including the military, for the addiction to take us to the place we are today; a place where we have been cornered, as will be shown; and a place we are trying to find out how to extract ourselves from, even as Texas politicians from time to time threaten to extract themselves from the U.S.eh?

Anyway, the story for the purposes of this series, begins at Spindletop, which is near Beaumont, Texas:
The modern oil industry was born on a hill in southeastern Texas. This hill was formed by a giant underground dome of salt as it moved slowly towards the surface. As it crept, it pushed the earth that was in its path higher and higher. This dome was known by several names, but the one that stuck was "Spindletop". Through the later half of the 19th century, Pennsylvania had been the most oil-productive state in the country. All that changed on January 10th, 1901.
(Spindletop, Beaumont TX ). That event of finding big oil in the U.S.A. soon combined with another civilization changing event:
... The Industrial Revolution was already in progress being driven by the steam engine, fuelled by coal. But then in the 1860s, a German engineer found a way to insert the fuel directly into the cylinder inventing the Internal Combustion Engine, which was much more efficient. At first, it used benzene distilled from coal, before turning to petroleum refined from crude oil, for which it developed an unquenchable thirst. The first automobile took to the road in 1882 and the first tractor ploughed its furrow in 1907. This cheap and abundant supply of energy changed the world in then unimaginable ways, leading to the rapid expansion of industry, transport, trade and agriculture, which has allowed the population to expand six-fold in parallel. These remarkable changes were in turn accompanied by the rapid growth of financial capital, as banks lent more than they had on deposit, confident that Tomorrow’s Economic Expansion was collateral for To-day’s Debt, without necessarily recognising that the expansion was driven by an abundant supply of cheap largely oil-based energy.
(About Peak Oil, emphasis added). In following posts of this series we will focus on how this changed the U.S. eventually into The Homeland Plutocracy it is today.

But the most important part of the series will focus on why Dredd Blog describes this historical perspective as the story of a trap that has ensnared us all.

To illustrate the enormity of that trap, we begin with the following CBS News video:


The Dredd Blog post Will This Float Your Boat details more of the rising sea level reality, while The Peak of The Oil Lies - 2 details some of the thorny political realities the trap is composed of.

UPDATE: Three days after this post: Sandy became a hurricane at 11 a.m. Wednesday with 80 m.p.h. winds just off Jamaica's southern coast. Several days later the computer models began to predict it would hit the large population area of the Northeast U.S. Coast, exactly where the video talks about.

The next post in this series is here

1 comment:

  1. One has to wonder why this is not included in political debates at the highest level: Link

    ReplyDelete