Get ready for a cold, expensive winter

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 9, 2004

Funny thing, really, how the price of crude oil rose more than $10 per barrel but the price at the gas pump stayed about the same – actually dropping a cent or two in some places. I remember the times – every time the price of crude rose – when gas pump prices went up the very next day after the international price per barrel rose.

I remember because it always made me mad that gasoline prices would rise so quickly after crude oil increases. I knew that it takes months for barreled crude oil to be shipped to the United States from Saudi Arabia and probably weeks after that before it is refined and shipped to service stations for use by drivers.

It has been with a major degree of incredulity that I’ve watched the price of crude oil rise to nearly $50 a barrel this summer while I still pay the same for my gasoline at the local convenience store. In the past, a 25-cent rise in crude would generate a 10-cent jump in gas that had been barreled a year before.

Interesting. Very interesting. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but I just have this sneaking suspicion that something is up. The oil companies are not holding down the price of gasoline out of the goodness of their hearts because, let’s face it, the boards of directors and CEOs of big oil companies have no hearts.

Something else is going on. Could it be that Saudi Arabia and the big oil companies desperately want to make sure Dubya gets reelected in November? Remember last spring, as gas prices hit new records even though crude prices were only rising moderately, when the media was filled with reports that Saudi Arabia had vowed to make sure the price of gasoline would go down in the fall to ensure that its bestest buddy in the whole world – President of the United States George W. Bush – would be reelected?

It seems the media has forgotten. I’ve not seen one mention of those reports all summer. I have only seen the barest flutter of curiosity, in fact, about why the price of gasoline hasn’t been rising with the price of crude.

To compensate for the rising crude oil prices, Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up its production of oil. Media outlets have apparently bought into the myth that lots of high priced oil means the price of gas stays the same. Good job, oil companies. Who would have thought anybody could be so dumb as to buy that twisted logic?

Never underestimate the stupidity of the press. It’s worked well for Bush over the years, so why not for his oil buddies.

But if you think the oil companies are going to simply accept the loss of these huge profits, you should get a press card. They’re going to get their money. You betcha.

Winter approaches. The price of crude is still well over $40 a barrel. I’m willing to wager some huge bucks (too bad I don’t have any) that gas, kerosene, and fuel oil are going to go through the roof in the days after the election. It doesn’t matter who wins, by the way. The oil companies have excessive profits to gain and they’re going to get their pound of flesh from you and me. They just want to make sure they have a free ride to as they please for at least four more years.

Buy your heating fuel now because it’s going to set records this winter. For those of you who heat with electricity, like me, too bad. There’s nothing you can do. Start saving your money. It’s going to get bad, but this is only the start.

Experts estimate that at current production and usage rates, the world’s oil supply will be exhausted in 50 years. Once gone, this source of energy and manufacturing material will never again be available. As it becomes more scarce, the price is going to go up. Those environmental areas that folks don’t want drilled for oil will be drilled unless something radical changes because when the oil fields dry up it will become a matter of national security that all potential wells be tapped.

Therefore, for the sake of our national security – both for our domestic economy and to prevent foreign invasion – this nation needs to prioritize the development of alternative energy sources. Right now we are the envy of the world, but we have plenty of enemies that would love to see us brought to our knees because we didn’t plan ahead.

When the wells start drying up, unless there are alternative energy sources in place, nations that depend on oil for their economic well being will be warring on their neighbors and nations that depended upon that oil will be the targets.

Although President Carter initiated an alternative energy program over 20 years ago, there is still no viable energy source to supplant fossil fuels. If 20 years of research have yielded nothing particularly new regarding energy that everyone can use, American citizens and government officials should be getting worried right now about the future of this nation.

Not only must the technologies be invented that can prevent a global energy crisis, those technologies must also be installed and put into use well before the crisis begins. If it takes another 25 years to develop the technology and 25 more years to implement in the United States, the world would still spiral into chaos.

We have to not only reconfigure our ideas about energy production and use, we must do the same thing for every other nation on the planet. If China is not ready by 2050, over a billion people would be seeking the riches of other nations, and the same is true for India and for every other group of people.

This has nothing to do with how aggressive or peaceful nations now are. When the oil runs out, it will literally be a matter of survival for nations and for people.

Researchers are working right now develop new energy sources, but they do not get the kind of funding needed to ensure success in a short period of time. This problem requires a global effort, led by the United States. That ain’t gonna to happen as long as our president is in bed with oil giants and Saudi princes.