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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 09:32 PM
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The History of US Oil Consumption (good read)


Up until the 1910s, the United States produced between 60 and 70 percent of the world's oil supply. As fear grew that American oil reserves were dangerously depleted, the search for oil turned worldwide. Oil was discovered in Mexico at the beginning of the twentieth century, in Iran in 1908, in Venezuela during World War I, and in Iraq in 1927. Many of the new oil discoveries occurred in areas dominated by Britain and the Netherlands: in the Dutch East Indies, Iran, and British mandates in the Middle East. By 1919, Britain controlled 50 percent of the world's proven oil reserves.

After World War I, a bitter struggle for control of world oil reserves erupted. The British, Dutch, and French excluded American companies from purchasing oil fields in territories under their control. Congress retaliated in 1920 by adopting the Mineral Leasing Act, which denied access to American oil reserves to any foreign country that restricted American access to its reserves. The dispute was ultimately resolved during the 1920s when American oil companies were finally allowed to drill in the British Middle East and the Dutch East Indies.


By the early 1970s, the United States depended on the Middle East for a third of its oil. Foreign oil producers were finally in a position to raise world oil prices. The oil embargo of 1973 and 1974, during which oil prices quadrupled, and the oil crisis of 1978 and 1979, when oil prices doubled, graphically illustrated how vulnerable the nation had become to foreign producers.

The oil crises of the 1970s had an unanticipated side-effect. Rising oil prices stimulated conservation and exploration for new oil sources. As a result of increasing supplies and declining demand, oil prices fell from $35 a barrel in 1981 to $9 a barrel in 1986. The sharp slide in world oil prices was one of the factors that led Iraq to invade neighboring Kuwait in 1990 in a bid to gain control over 40 percent of Middle Eastern oil reserves.

In the century-and-a-half since Edwin L. Drake drilled the first oil well, the history of the oil industry has been a story of vast swings between periods of overproduction, when low prices and profits led oil producers to devise ways to restrict output and raise prices, and periods when oil supplies appeared to be on the brink of exhaustion, stimulating a global search for new supplies. This cycle may now be approaching an end. It appears that world oil supplies may truly be reaching their natural limits. With proven world oil reserves anticipated to last less than forty years, the age of oil that began near Titusville may be coming to an end. In the years to come, the search for new sources of oil will be transformed into a quest for entirely new sources of energy.

The ending is a bit sappy and optimistic... but the alternative is too depressing and akin to putting our own necks in the noose and withdrawing the plank.
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Massacure Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 09:37 PM
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1. Nuclear Power + Expanding Ethanol and Biodiesal + Conservation
= Good.

Too bad everybody is so stupid.

Nough' Said.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Ethanol... Last I recall from, it takes 2x the effort to get
the 1x usefulness from oil. Go prove how bright you are compared to the rest of us and look up the exact page, you clearly don't need my help. O8)

I agree with nuke power, however.

Also, how much bio can you grow for biodiesel (I'm so dumb I got the spelling right, unlike you) when more farmers are selling off their land because they get some more money out of it?

We can't grow our way out of this problem and, as has been said, ethanol takes more energy to make. It SEEMS cheap, but without the oil it's perched on, it's WORTHLESS. is another intelligent article, particularly surrounding Iraq and how stupid people are for thinking the stuff won't ever dry up...

Conservation? Your intelligence is not quite showing itself today. Carter warned of not conserving and got voted out. We've been astronomically using more and more of the stuff after the 1970s crisis ended. Worse, our society and very economy is based on EXPANSION. When peak oil hits in ~2012, expect a big crash.

Stupid is as stupid claims others to be.

'nough said.
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Massacure Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 10:37 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. A few things
1) Who cares about spelling.
2) What do you propose we do?
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 11:39 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. You're both on the same page
I think that Massacure has the equation just about right, except for one currently-hidden variable. That variable is: We are going to have to dedicate an enormous amount of human energy to solving the problem. It's not enough just to say "build more nukes" (current nuke technology is lousy, and its replacement is not funded) and "recycle french-fry oil". There are entire sub-economies whose energy sources will have to be changed.

For instance, air transport and trucking are each used to move most of our "stuff" around. What happens when oil is $200/bbl? It will become uneconomical to use trucks and planes to move stuff around, except for special cargoes like medicines and sex toys for rich people.

Well, nobody seems to be talking about it, but I will -- we should develop a new generation of airships, modern Dirigibles. They're easy on energy use and they can lift a lot of stuff. The new ones can even use hydrogen gas as safely as helium, which has less lift.

And that's just one example.

The problem isn't stupidity, it's financial interest. Too many people will be out a few bucks. And when the market pushes them to innovate, it will be so late that the innovations will come with much higher prices and much lower returns.

It's not just easy to be pessimistic, it's rational.

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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 09:41 PM
Response to Original message
2. Straighten your collar, then
There's plenty of ways to break our dependence on oil, not just foreign oil. But it's not going to happen until the market makes it attractive, and at that point, the cost of oil will be rising so quickly that demand will outrun supply by orders of magnitude.

We've had 30 years and all we've done is complain about Arabs and ridicule alternative energy enthusiasts. We may have all of five, maybe ten years left before the supply/demand price gap becomes critical.

There's been quite a lot of discussion about this on the Environment and Science forum (which has lately been given to discussions of BHT).

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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 09:58 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I'm prepared for the end. Is our expansion-oriented economy and society?
You are 100% correct. By the time the market makes an alternative attractive, we're beyond toast. We're burnt toast.

Hoisted by our own petard.

And while we laughed at the alternative energy k00ks because their solutions weren't as freely available as oil, those laughing are no longer... And who would be laughing, the situation is too ghastly.

This article claims anywhere between 2010-2018 will be the end period, much closer to 2010 if we keep increasing our use of the stuff. And our economy, expansion-oriented and based on cheap disposable products, is going to crash and burn big-time.

It also mentions Iraq, OPEC, US imperialism... who needs peak oil, PNAC's own intentions might bring about a cozy little end to life as we know it far sooner. But that's tinfoil stuff. The only thing we know for sure is, that given the status quo, we have 5-15 years left. And the market won't be able to compensate given the enormity of the problem. The moment the supply is sufficiently lower than demand is when it all effectively ends. Dieoff will occur, but society isn't even thinking that far ahead. What's better, a death of suffering or a death of peace?

Heck, the year 2-0-1-2 has been said before by certain people, usually seen as crackpots. Seems sad they'd be half-right after all...
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 11:29 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. The Shit will be meeting the Fan
The thing is, it doesn't have to be that way. And second, even if the worst scenario goes down, we could still provide a high level of residential power and have more than enough left for food production and transport. We have hydro power (12%); nuclear (5%); and wind power could easily make a dent in our power needs inside of three or four years. (Personal cars? The personal car of 2020 will probably be an alcohol-powered engine for a modified bicycle.)

But people don't count, and all available energy is going to go to keeping the economy afloat, because our particular form of capitalism requires a 2.5-3% per annum growth rate just to keep from falling into depression. Even if we had limitless "zero-point" or "free" energy, that would doom us to turning the globe into an incandescent ball of rock.

So I think that's the real problem the fact that our society can't manage energy use and economic activity. Our economics isn't just carbon-dirty, it turns too much energy into waste, whether that waste is heat or social waste.

Various "Peak Oil" scenarios have been analyzed, but that oil won't just suddenly disappear. There is actually quite a bit of oil left. It's just more difficult to recover. There's an equation called "EROEI" for "Energy Return On Energy Investment". In absolute terms, we have used between 40-50% of all the oil the Earth has, even figuring future finds into the picture. But less than half of what remains is even recoverable, since it would require more energy to bring it to the surface than the energy the oil contains. After 2020, oil will become a "boutique fuel". But the economics of oil are already changing. As Cavallo wrote, in 1998, oil was $10 per barrel; it's just under $40 per barrel today, and the price of gasoline is a lagging economic indicator. Imagine how the economy will change when oil is $200 per barrel -- not out of the question for 2010, and likely for 2020.

A bunch of stuff will be hitting the fan soon -- the oil is running up against the economics of gravity, China is going on-line with major economic and industrial expansion, the Middle East has turned into a quagmire that could push the USA into tyranny, the climate is beginning to "whipsaw," probably as a first step into the next full-on ice age, there's a tremendous die-off of fauna in progress and since the honeybees are closing in on extinction, huge parts of the flora would be next. The end of the Mayan calendar will be the least of our worries if we continue on our current Bushonomic path.

I'm not just catastrophizing. I think the "synchronicity" we're observing is real and devoid of metaphysical meaning. We've collectively rushed toward the Apocalypse, and ours is the generation that is going to have to face it. We've wrung the neck of the goose that laid the golden eggs, and now we're tearing into the body to find the remaining golden ocytes.

I trust human instinct to avoid that Apocalypse. But you're right, the choice is, do we do it easily, humanely, and with a sense of challenge? Or do we do it in agony, with a human die-off, facing a centuries-long dark age?

I actually think that PNAC and other such schemes are "end-game" projects. Not that I like PNAC, but I can understand why it came about -- the desire for one particular elite to preserve its privilege and seize control of a dying world. Such a fascistic plan actually has "survival value", but it's based on a cynical world-view. However, the Chinese are already clearly thinking in those terms, and if the Muslim world ever finds its Ashoka or Tamerlane, we will enter a very interesting period of history.

The world doesn't have to die. I have no doubt that a 10-year-long super-Manhattan-Project effort could give us sheets of photovoltaic cells at a cost similar to Christmas wrapping and home nuclear reactors the size of water-softeners. But that would be "socialistic", and it's not just the American right-wingers who don't want that -- the oil barons don't want it, American and European plutocracies don't want it, the Chinese "Communists" don't want it -- not until they're good and ready for it, and they're jockeying for position right now. But their empires will also be hurt and their wealth will decline, and they'll realize they waited too long, although a lot of their serfs will be miserable before they decide to start dealing with it.

The solution? Well, I'd like to think that DU is one little part of it.

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Andy_Stephenson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-21-04 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
8. Anything into Oil
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