The Avian Flu Fright is Politically Timed
Date: Thursday, October 13 2005
In the U.S., 73% of Gulf oil production and two-thirds of the gas production is still shut in. On top of that 109 rigs are still damaged or totally destroyed and there are no clear reports as yet as to the status of the pipelines from the Gulf for even those rigs that are still operational. Experts have estimated it might take ten years to get “full” production re-established if at all.
On top of that, New Orleans is still a ghost town for the most part when one looks for the big energy corporations or their employees.
For the past month, the European Union has been sending two million barrels of crude a day to the U.S. out of its own emergency reserves. The Federal government has loaned the oil companies crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The SPR contained 700 million barrels of crude when the hurricanes hit. The U.S. uses 20 million barrels of oil a day, of which about seven million barrels are produced domestically. It is unclear how much oil is coming out of it now, but the last time a president tapped the SPR (Clinton) one million barrels a day were released.
These actions have beaten down the price of crude oil on the various futures markets. At the same time, gasoline pump prices have leveled off from the refinery squeeze. The motoring public isn't driving a whole lot less. The commutes haven't magically gotten any shorter. The national fleet of SUVs has not been changed out either.
What's happening, therefore is that we have entered an eerie hiatus. Some band-aids have been applied to our oil and natural gas supply injuries and the bleeding seems to have stopped. But the truth is that our energy supplies are badly compromised and at the worst time of the year--just as we slide into the home heating season; a season which is already predicted by the industry as going to have record heating oil prices and the possibility of shortages.
In the background of this scene, Peak Oil lurks, meaning that there does not seem to be any surplus production capacity anywhere in the world, including OPEC's big gun, Saudi Arabia. So all we have here in North America is a temporary appearance of normality. When the furnaces go on, the Wal-Mart aisles will empty. If there is any reduction in car trips, it will be because we are making fewer visits to the Big Box stores. There will also be fewer trips out to visit the model homes in the new subdivisions.
Another unpleasant truth about the situation is that we all want to pretend that everything is okay as much as our leaders do. The public is not so much being misled as demanding that its leaders in government, business, and the news media continue a game of make-believe; that we can still run a cheap oil economy without cheap oil.
The government has a problem in dealing with the realities of Peak Oil: How do you reduce demand and deal with the millions of newly-created economic refugees who, at the very least, are going to be a bit upset and frightened that all they have come to believe and trust in is gone?
The term “iatrogenocide” is derived from the combination of words “iatrogenesis,” meaning physician-induced illness, and “genocide,” defined as the mass killing and/or enslaving of people for economics, politics, and/or ideology.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 15, 2005]