Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Hidden Costs of Dramatically Reducing Oil Consumption

Most people think that "oil" means one thing: Gasoline.

In 2012, Obama made this point clear when he said that oil was the "fuel of the past".  Now, the Pope, too, in his encyclical on climate change states that we need to replace fossil fuels with renewables; meaning that, alongside natural gas and coal, we should abandon oil production.

The problem with this way of thinking is that it ignores how pervasive oil is in our lives.  Well beyond the gasoline we use in our cars, lawnmowers, etc.  Out of a 42 gallon barrel of oil, we are only able to cost effectively refine 47% of it into gasoline.

The remaining 53% of products created from a barrel of oil are bonuses that, in many ways, can't be easily or economically replaced if gasoline production is dramatically reduced.  In fact, that 53% is used to make over 6,000 items. 99% of all durable (non-biodegradable) plastics are derived from that 18% "other" category resulting in more than 40,000 different uses.   Things such as the covering on all electrical and telephone cables or synthetic carpet and the padding underneath.  Even the tires on your car are a result of synthetic rubber derived from oil.  The propane in your gas barbeque was derived from oil.  The roads we drive on are all created with oil's asphalt byproduct. Then too, there are millions of trucks, buses, locomotives, and sea-going freighters which are all dependent on the power of diesel fuel. Oil gives us much of the fertilizers that provide us with such high output per acre.  Do we really want to reduce fruit and vegetable production in the face of growing populations?

The simple fact is that, if we reduce our oil consumption because gasoline is being run out of town, there will be shortages of the materials and products we depend so heavily on.  The result will be higher prices for everything we buy.  Quite frankly, in some cases, there are no alternatives for the materials derived from oil.  You are not going to make asphalt from wind and solar.  Nor, are we going to be flying in airplanes that run on electricity.

We need to seriously rethink this mad drive to eliminate oil.  Otherwise, life in this country and the rest of the world will be very expensive; with the poor suffering the most.


Oil is 'the fuel of the past,' says President Obama:

Pope Francis issues anti-fossil fuel message:

Oil breakdown source: InvestingDaily:

LPG (liquefied petroleum gas):

From Oil to Plastics:

Everyday Products from Oil (partial list):

A partial list of products made from Petroleum (144 of 6000 items):

Beyond natural gas and electricity; more than 10% of U.S. homes use heating oil or propane:

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