Tuesday, November 02, 2004


In the October 11 issue of The New Yorker, John Cassidy writes about the recent history of the US's dependence on oil. I need to go vote, so please accept some bullets and not a narrative summary:

  • November 1973, Pres. Nixon: "'Let us set as our national goal, in the spirit of Apollo, with the determination of the Manhattan Project, that by the end of this decade we will have developed the potential to meet our own energy needs without depending on any foreign energy source.'"
  • A statistical report written in 2003 reveals that "if the United States were forced to rely on its own resources, it would run out of oil in four years and three months."
  • "some geologists believe that global production [of oil] is about to start falling."
  • 1980, Carter Doctrine: "'Any attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf Region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America...."
  • an Amherst College professor writes, "'From the vantage of officers and enlisted personnel in the U.S. Central Command, the invasion of Iraq is only the latest in a series of military engagements in the Gulf proceeding from the Carter Doctrine.'"
  • Cars and trucks (which is how most SUVs are classified) are not very fuel-efficient; political sides; investing in research: bottom line?: "'The public is really not up to speed on energy issues.'"
  • "Many Americans also appear to believe that they are entitled to cheap fuel, regardless of how much they consume."
  • "Between 1976 and 1985, when gasoline prices were high, drivers switched to to smaller, less wasteful cars, and oil consumption fell by ten per cent. Once oil prices slipped back, Americans returned to their beloved gas-guzzlers. Between 1985 and 2000, the demand for oil rose by almost twenty-five percent."
  • "Americans prefer low prices at the pumps even if they have to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes to support a U.S. military presence in the Middle East."

    Much of that troubles me, but in some ways, the last point worries me the most. How can people be mesmerized so much by gas prices under two bucks that they don't notice the price tags, in dollars and lives, on war in the Middle East?
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