$4 Gallon Gasoline: Who would’ve thunk it?

It was just back in February when an intrepid reporter, Peter Maer of CBS Radio, asked George W. Bush about the potential for $4/gallon gasoline.  Response, near blank stare with seeming confusion.  

Maer of CBS News Radio asked: “What’s your advice to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing … ”

“Wait, what did you just say?” the president interrupted. “You’re predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?”

No George, Maer wasn’t necessarily making the prediction but many experts, those concerned about minor little issues like Peak Oil and rising worldwide demand and the impacts of US military operations on Iraq on Iraqi production and …, made such predictions.  

Maer responded: “A number of analysts are predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline.”

Bush’s rejoinder: “Oh, yeah? That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.”

What else hasn’t George “heard” in the Oval Office?

Is it that accurate information doesn’t make it to the Oval Office or that George doesn’t “hear” it when it does?  Oblivious to reality … and his contributing factors.

Disconnected from reality?  Does this remind anyone of another George Bush and grocery store check-out lines?

Why expensive oil?
Now, there are a wide-range of factors feeding into rising oil and gasoline prices.

  • Growing world demand
  • Peak oil
  • Constrained production for a range of reasons (Conflict (Iraq, Nigeria); Sanctions (Iran, etc))Now, in the face of these challenges, the appropriate response could be a combination of driving for increased production (more exploration and drilling; reducing international tension to allow insertion of modern technology) and efficiency (both in production and in use of fossil fuels). In the face of Americans addiction to oil, the Republican leadership, of course, focus solely on one “solution”: Drilling.  Yes, they argue (disingenuously) that, considering how deep a hole we’re in, the answer is to drill the hole even deeper.  As John McCain just explained

    McCain was more gung-ho about nuclear power and expanded domestic drilling for oil and natural gas. When a donor in Richmond summed up his advice as, “nuclear, and drill wherever we’ve got it,” McCain responded: “You just gave my speech. Thank you, my friend.”

    Note to those advocating supply-side solutions: it doesn’t work for the overall economy and it won’t solve our energy challenges.

    Staying simply within the question of liquid fuels, we cannot pump our way out of the problems.  Improved efficiency, sadly being driven by ever-mounting gasoline prices rather than sensible energy policy, is a critical part of the solution path.

    Not just oil …

    There is, of course, some minor little issues to throw into this simplistic calculation:  Global Warming (and a wide range of other environmental/etc impacts, but dealing with Global Warming deals with the others).    In the face of Global Warming, the idea of focusing on gasoline prices and oil supply is nearly an absurdity, but certainly a distraction from the ever mounting tide of catastrophic climate change.  To turn this tide, we must strive not to increase the sea of oil, but to constrain use.  Efficiency is the path for restraining prices at the pump … and for reducing our impact on the global system.

    But, to reach a point of system-of-systems solution to the Perfect Storm of Peak Oil and Global Warming, one needs to have some access to truth, to be able to hear truth, to encourage truth speaking to power, even to the person sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office.

    Back to the top,

    “Wait, what did you just say?” the president interrupted. “You’re predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?” …. That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.”

    Hat tip for the reminder:  DoubleSpeak.

    Now, to sing some blues …

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