What are the causes and consequences of expensive oil? The first question is posed in this article, and answered surprisingly well by a neoclassical economist. He understands the relationship between the price of oil and economic growth, and he hints at constrained supply while also expressing irrational exuberance about continued economic growth. As an economist, …
We have ripped minerals from the Earth, often bringing down mountains in the process; we have harvested nearly all the old-growth timber on the continent, replacing thousand-year-old trees with neatly ordered plantations of small trees; we have hunted species to the point of extinction; we have driven livestock across every almost acre of the continent, baring hillsides and facilitating massive erosion; we have plowed large landscapes, transforming fertile soil into sterile, lifeless dirt; we have burned ecosystems and, perhaps more importantly, we have extinguished naturally occurring fires; we have paved thousands of acres to facilitate our movement and, in the process, have disrupted the movements of thousands of species; we have spewed pollution and dumped garbage, thereby dirtying our air, fouling our water, and contributing greatly to the warming of the planet. We have, to the maximum possible extent allowed by our intellect and never-ending desire, consumed the planet.
As American Empire is completing its fall, the American government might find itself at war with its own people. As long as we have American Idol and high fructose corn syrup, I doubt the people are willing to rebel. But if they are, perhaps this time the people will win.
Even many secular people believe Earth is an egg. Once needed, we will simply abandon this ship for another planet. How stupid is this view? Quantitative skills have never been revered in this country, so it’s no surprise most people think we can simply plan the journey and load up the rich folks (including all middle-class Americans, of course) on a few minutes’ notice. Let’s actually do the math.