Peak Oil & Climate Change Loom, While We Keep Our Fingers in Our Ears

So Hurricane (or Superstorm) Sandy has put Climate Change back in the headlines, where it will probably disappear after a couple weeks, replaced by something that Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan does or wears. But for now it’s heartening to see some people, like New York’s Governor Cuomo, pointing out the obvious that Climate Change is affecting our cities NOW, not in some distant future. There’s even talk of building sea gates for New York, which some Climate-Change-mitigation scenarios have predicted. Readers of this blog will know that I’m a fan of Tim Egan, who has a column in the NY Times, and he had some pithy things to say this week about the way that Climate Change has been ignored in the presidential campaign, here. And I found this little gem about the precarious state of Saudi oil in my alma mater’s (The University of Texas at Austin) alumni magazine, The Alcalde, here. The article by Karen Elliot House, titled “An End to Saudi Oil?” and excerpted from her forthcoming book On Saudi Arabia, argues that the role of Saudi Arabia as the key oil producer whose production functions to keep prices down will likely end soon, and could be a shock to the world’s economies. This has also been predicted by many, and though I’m certainly not a Peak Oil doomsayer, I think it’s reasonable to expect that fuel prices will go much higher in the next decade or two, no matter how much we try to produce and keep the prices down. That Peak Oil and Climate Change are intertwined has been noted by many, with the upshot that we should be conserving more, stressing fuel efficiency more, and developing alternative energies faster. It’s reasonable to me. Most of the supply-side arguments seem rather dim and oddly naive, basically saying, Don’t worry, be happy, buy that gas guzzler. The world is changing and much of our country—symbolized by but not limited to the Republicans—want to deny it.
At one point in his op-ed piece Tim Egan mentions the wildfires in the West, a subject I know something about, first-hand. In my county there was a fire last week that burned 14 homes so fast that the people had to run for their lives, and some had to cower in ditches or take shelter in metal sheds to survive. Yes, there have always been fires in the West. As there have been hurricanes in the Atlantic. But this isn’t normal.

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