19 June 2008

Offshore oil drilling as a metaphor for how dumb people are

(image courtesy flickr and the person that took them)

Lots of talk in the news about removing the ban on offshore oil drilling in the United States. Because gas is $4 a gallon. Leaving out my feelings for the main cause of this challenge (destabilizing wars - justified by false 'intelligence' - prosecuted by people with strong ties to the oil industry), the notion that increasing supply will somehow bring the price down does not take all the economic factors into account. Nor does it take the deleterious effect that runaway fossil-fuel consumption has on the world as a whole. But that's another post. Let's talk offshore oil drilling in the US...

Since coastal states represent a small fraction of the total here in the US and since such drilling would seem to help the entire country, there's a lot of push for it. It's the tragedy of the commons on a grand scale. It's also really fucking stupid. Instead of explaining why by using zany facts and statistics, I'm going to use a parable. Like Jesus.

Imagine you have a savings account full of money. You don't know what the balance is, but it's a lot. It is virtually guaranteed to last you the next 30 years, regardless of how you spend it. The problem is that you cannot make any deposits to the account; whatever you take out can never be replaced.

How you manage the money is up to you. Spend it as much and as fast as you can, or try to curtail spending so that your children, and your children's children, can also take advantage of the finite resource. Open additional draws on the account, spend lavishly, whatever. It's your money.

When the money runs out (and it will run out), how much you are affected depends on how you managed your account. Are you dependent on the money, or can you live comfortably without it?

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