Tag: oil

Extrarchal Cogitation

Extrarchal Cogitation posted in Eleison Comments on December 13, 2008

“Archa, archae” is the Latin for “box.” Thinking outside the box is not a popular activity – who wants to be shaken out of their comfortable mental routine? – but circumstances may soon force it upon all of us. It may not be a bad idea to get a little used to it sooner rather than later. Here are some considerations of an American, James Kunstler, who is not afraid to cogitate extrarchally!

The recent succession of massive bailouts by the USA government of mega-banks and mega-corporations TBTF (too big to fail), he says, is no better than injections of embalming fluid into the walking dead. Worse, the corresponding fabrication of trillions of dollars out of nothing virtually guarantees hyper-inflation in anything from six to eighteen months. But if the dollar is destroyed, how will the USA pay for imported oil? And without oil, what happens to our whole oil-based way of life?

Moreover, with the collapse of the debt pyramid, what happens to the whole fantasyland, built like most everybody’s houses and cars, on credit and debt? People will have to get back to real as opposed to virtual activity. Back to the distribution of property and growing of food as before the arrival of petro-agriculture. Back to the land, or social chaos! We must start thinking – outside the box – of alternate energies in place of oil, of production instead of consumerism, of localism in place of globalism.

Mr. Kunstler recognizes that a “zombie disease” has “eaten away our brains,” but he still puts his hope in a young generation of Americans realizing what an opportunity to rebuild is offered to us all by this meltdown, and he hopes that a revived American people will set its shoulder to the wheel. I wish I shared his hope, but the whole question is religious, and the closest that he gets to mentioning the Lord God is when he comments that “the meltdown is building straight into the Christmas holidays”!

Yet as the Psalmist says, to build the city without God is to build in vain (Ps. CXXVI). And, as Our Lord says, “He that gathereth not with me, scattereth” (Mt. XII, 30). All the suffering that lies in wait for us next year will be allowed by God for one supreme purpose, to help us to save our souls for eternity. If the collapse of our gimcrack paradise on earth merely makes us want to build a solid paradise on earth, he may have to increase the dose of suffering until we get the point.

Kyrie eleison.

Tail’s Moral

Tail’s Moral posted in Eleison Comments on June 14, 2008

On a recent transatlantic flight I saw displayed on the TV screens in the aeroplane’s main cabin something I had never seen before: the constantly changing view over the front of the aeroplane as seen from a TV camera mounted outside at the back, no doubt high on the tailfin. It was an interesting perspective . . .

Of course the camera could only show always in the same position the forward fuselage and roots of the wings, it could not even show the flaps moving at the back of the wings to manoeuvre the monster bird up to its cruising height. Nevertheless as the machine picked its way between the clouds, how ungainly its movements seemed, when compared for instance with those of a seagull soaring on the wind and swooping over the surf with its entire body flexing at every moment in a variety of all instinctive ways!

However, one could not at the same time help admiring the enormous power being deployed by the monster bird as it forced so much weight upwards through the clouds against the pull of gravity. At least for now, oil alone has a sufficient ratio of energy to weight to make powered flight possible. But the ever expanding airports all over the world, veritable palaces of glass, steel and concrete, tell of the ever increasing number of flights, and such an increase can only mean the limited supply of fossil fuels being burnt up faster and faster. “Here today, gone tomorrow,” are not those palaces doomed?

For over the last 150 odd years the industrial way of life whereby a welfare beggar of today can live as comfortably as a king of yesterday, has made itself more and more dependent on oil, and it has spread all over the world. India and China represent two giant populations demanding today their share in this “progress.” But everything has its price, even “progress.”

As oil makes for material comfort by taking out the need for many a physical effort, so the strain shifts from the muscles to the nerves, and so there tends to fade out that sense of reality which came with the discipline of labouring by the sweat of one’s brow for food, warmth and clothing. More strain, less discipline, more unreality – disaster may be upon us even long before the oil runs out.

Kyrie eleison.

Peak Oil

Peak Oil posted in Eleison Comments on February 2, 2008

Today’s Western way of life, imitated now all over the world, is under sentence of death. One may or may not believe in Almighty God, in sin, in God’s justice or warnings or punishments upon sin, but it is impossible to believe that planet earth’s resources of oil can or will sustain indefinitely a way of life consuming 84 million barrels of oil a day, and every day thirsting for more.

A while after oil-wells have been discovered, their production reaches a peak, and then steadily and inexorably declines. In the USA, discovery of oil peaked in 1930, and production peaked in 1970, a period coinciding with the USA’s greatest economic power. As its own oil declined, so the USA changed from being the world’s greatest oil exporter and creditor nation to being its greatest importer and debtor nation. Global oil discovery peaked in 1964, global oil production is peaking anywhere from now to around 2015, and from then on it must decline. There are few new oil fields. Three times more oil is now consumed each year than is discovered. 53 countries are past their producing peak.

Over the last 150 years since rock-oil (petr-oleum) began replacing whale-oil in the USA, rock-oil has become an incomparable source of dense and cheap energy, versatile and powerful. As such it has been the engine of global economic growth, and there is no replacement in sight. What will happen to the West’s industry, agriculture, transportation, military forces and even electricity when there is no more oil? It has been central to developing the “freedom” of Western ways. The imminent necessity for these to change radically is a theme no democratic politician cares to touch.

Yet the governments know. That is why it makes complete sense that 9/11 was organized to make possible (amongst other things) the invasion of countries where military bases could be built amongst, and all around, the present most important sources of world oil. Such governments seem to envisage no alternative to oil, but the writing is on the wall – the party will soon be over!

Any individual, nation or world that builds on anything other than on the Gospel is building on sand, said Our Lord, and he might have added, even sand soaked in oil.

Kyrie eleison.