The Least Convenient Truth, Part 1

The decades-old concept of global warming is an issue in just about every American’s face nowadays. It has been thrust there not by any noticeable changes in climate, oceans rising from polar ice melt, or overnight epidemics of skin cancer and heatstroke — but by the political left’s (see als mainstream media’s) best efforts to blame the yearly storm season on Republicans in the wake of the highest-profile hurricane in a century, Katrina.

As mind-bogglingly absurd as this notion is, the coordinated PR offensive puppeteering it from stage left may actually be working. Al Gore’s global warming movie (I hesitate to call it a documentary), An Inconvenient Truth, has made more money per screen in its limited release than some of Hollywood’s biggest recent pictures. Polls show that nearly 80% of Americans now consider global warming a serious problem, up dramatically over just a few years ago.

Add to this a perception of the current presidential administration as one that’s chained (Cheney-ed?) to Big Oil, stir in the vivid memories of nature’s wrath against a cultural icon, and then heap record gas prices on top, and you’ve got a climate of receptivity to the ridiculous that’s nearly unprecedented in American politics.

What’s worse is that this trend could result in both the demise of the U.S. as the lone world superpower in position to take the lead in the global fight for cleaner energy AND the rapid destruction of the global environment itself. Over my next two essays, I’m going to show you why global warming — whether it exists or not as packaged and sold to us by Al Gore and friends — is completely irrelevant to what should be our energy policy…

And how, if global warming really does turn out to be all the left makes it out to be, our best course of action for the preservation of both planet Earth and the American economy is the exact opposite of what the green crowd so militantly insists upon.

Let me be clear on something: These essays are not about debunking or disproving global warming theory. In fact, the salient points I’ll make over the next few weeks are made even stronger by the supposition that human-caused global warming is a reality — even though the science may be far from conclusive. What I said above about America’s “receptivity to the ridiculous” refers not to the theory, but to the measures we’re proposing to combat it. In a nutshell, here’s why…

More Consumption = Less Pollution

For every barrel of oil or ton of coal the U.S. doesn’t consume or stockpile for its own reserves, that’s one more barrel that is all but guaranteed will be consumed by a less technologically developed or environmentally responsible nondemocracy (read: Third World or communist nations not accountable to environmentally conscious citizens). From this oil, such nations will produce far more greenhouse gases (GHG) and pollution — yet far less wealth, energy, and prosperity.

Sound crazy? Consider the following facts agglomerated from GeoHive, the Pew Center, World Resources Institute, and other sources:

· Measured on a per-unit-of-oil-consumed scale, the U.S. produces less GHG than every other major developed or developing nation except Japan (we’re on a par with militantly green Germany). While consuming 25.4% of the world’s oil in 2000, we emitted only 20.6% of the GHGs. Compare that to China’s 6.5% of world oil consumption versus 14.8% of the GHGs (2.8 times as much as the U.S. per unit of oil consumed); India’s 3.0% consumption versus 5.5% GHG (2.26 times as much as the U.S. per barrel); and Russia’s 3.5% consumption versus 5.7% GHG (more than twice as much per unit as the U.S.). Even darling of the greenies Canada belches more GHG per barrel of oil consumed than the U.S.

· Measured in terms of economic yield (meaning how much we get from the oil we use), one need only compare GHG emission to gross domestic product (GDP) to get the full picture of just how much more effectively the U.S. consumes fossil fuels than almost any other industrialized nation on Earth (again, Japan and Germany are the exceptions). In 2000, America produced 39% more dollars in domestic GDP per unit of GHG expelled than Canada, 569% more dollars per GHG than India, a whopping 642% more dollars per GHG than China, and an incredible 1,041% more GDP per unit of GHG than the Russian Federation.

Looking at these numbers, it’s an absurd notion to suggest that the U.S. economy is the world’s most dependant on oil (the left does this frequently) — or that we’re the world’s largest polluter nation, as so many of the mainstream pundits claim. Clearly, China’s second largest oil-consuming economy is almost 6 1/2 times more dependent on oil than ours, from a dollars-per-barrel standpoint…

Put another way: If the world oil supply trickled dry tomorrow, the U.S. would be far better able to withstand the drought and maintain some semblance of economic stability and productivity than any of our major near-future competitors for natural resources (China, India, Russia, Africa).

And I want to point out one more thing: The reason I used statistics from 2000 is because that’s the last year in which China’s usage of coal remained lower than the U.S.’ (albeit only slightly). Coal-burning skews GHG numbers — it produces more GHG per unit of energy produced than oil consumption, and I wanted the statistics I cited in this section to be as petro-centric as possible, since oil and gas are resources heavily traded across borders, while coal is largely static.

In other words, the flow of oil traded around the world is something the U.S. is in a position to influence, either by force or economic might. The supply of coal is not, for the most part. Countries that have it (China has quite a bit) burn most of it themselves, and there’s not much we could do to stop that. Since 2000, China’s coal use has more than doubled and India’s has grown 20% or more, while America’s has declined slightly. Consequently, recalculating GHG versus GDP using the latest data would only further reinforce my main point:

That the MORE oil consumed by the U.S., instead of by GHG juggernauts India, China, the former Soviet Union, and developing nations in low-tech Africa (all Kyoto Protocol exempt, by the way), the LESS greenhouse gases will be expelled into the atmosphere…

And the cooler and healthier our Earth will be, if global warming is indeed the reality.

Doing Our Part — to Further Oppression

Many on the political left and in the media insist that simply “doing our part” by curbing Americans’ usage of oil will help in the struggle against global warming. But they’re wrong — and they’re shooting their own cause (and our future) in the foot. If you’re a misguided tree-hugger, movie star, vote-grubbing Democrat or left-licking Republican (see: Schwarzenegger, Arnold), cookie-cutter university enviro-activist, or mainstream eco-pundit, the LEAST convenient truth for you is this:

Over the next 50 years or so, virtually every single drop of oil on Earth — except perhaps what lurks beneath the ANWR’s waste tundra and other sacred U.S. territories — will likely be drilled, extracted, barreled, burned for energy, refined into gasoline or other fuels, or made into cheap plastic made-in-China toys your kids and grandkids will get in their Happy Meals.

That’s the inevitable reality of which tree-huggers live in perpetual denial.

Given this truth, what do you think will happen to the global environment if the greenies get their pot-addled wish? You know the one: It’s a fantasy world in which America uses no more oil than what we “deserve” on a per-capita basis — and in which we become an entire nation of bicycle-riding homebodies living in cities of earthen houses and eating hydroponically grown vegetables cooked over solar-powered stoves…

Should this happen, do you think the governments running the hyper-populated oil-hungry nations of the new world economic order will be shamed into following suit? Do you think a tsunami of concern over the Earth warming up a degree or two over the next few decades will wash over the billions of impoverished Africans and Asians whose biggest problem may be that their home isn’t warm enough — or full of enough food, clothing, and medicine?

Of course not.

These folks would kill for a chance to use the money we Americans spend on their die-cast junk and tech-support hot lines to buy up and convert the oil we’re no longer using into the plugged-in, revved-up, asphalt-and-cement consumer civilizations they so hunger for. But instead of doing it where they have a voice and a vote (like in the evil USA), they’ll do it for slave wages at the command of communist dictators, greedy monarchs, puppet governments run by warlords and drug cartels, or fundamentalist regimes bent on America’s destruction…

It’d be funny if it weren’t so freakin’ scary.

To sum up: By curbing our own petroleum use, we’re propping up systems that thrive on oppression, corruption, and hate — whereas if we were to increase our oil consumption to the point where we could force suppliers to trade only with democracies or countries with good human rights records, we might influence some meaningful change that could stabilize and better our world.

Fried Green State-oes?

Bottom line: As counterintuitive as it seems, if you believe in global warming, doing what the Pied Piper of eco-pundits (Al Gore) and friends recommend will only hasten the very condition you’re hoping to remedy. In the name of saving the Earth, you’d be enabling those who care nothing for it to pollute us all to a scorched, storm-ravaged, and flooded death…

But even if you don’t believe that our cars, planes, furnaces, space heaters, foundries, and factories are roasting us slowly over the sun on an Earth-shaped rotisserie, you need to be aware that if the green crowd gets its way, the United States could soon become hobbled in the global resource market — and as an economic superpower. This, in turn, would do nothing but harm for the environment. Seriously, if the Armageddon-by-nature scenario doesn’t play for you, imagine this one:

2010-2030: As the U.S. phases out oil and gas, China becomes the 800-pound gorilla in the world oil and gas market — siphoning off reserves from a fundamentalist Middle East coalition led by an Iran that’s all too eager to have outlets for petroleum that don’t require them to kowtow to nations they hate (the U.S. and Israel). This coalition grows strong on a river of Asian cash — money ironically accrued by selling Americans the products and services that used to be produced under the Stars and Stripes. Once they’re strong enough (read: nuclear capable via China or Pakistan), this coalition annihilates Israel…

2031-2032: The U.S., crippled by policies against drilling for its own oil, hamstrung by Asian petroleum deals around the world (including with Canada and Mexico), and handcuffed by the populace’s distaste for foreign war after the Iraq quagmire, is unable to respond in a conventional military capacity against a nuclear Middle East backed up by a superpower intent on protecting its continental oil supplies with its standing army of over 2 million soldiers (China). Instead, we respond with a trade embargo against China that stalls our own economy by crippling our retail, shipping, and light industrial segments…

2033-2050: China downshifts into selling more mass-produced goods to rapidly developing African, Asian, and Central/South American nations, sustaining itself on its enormous cash reserves and its ability as a nondemocracy to slash domestic wages and services to conserve money, while demand in these places ramps up to former levels. Under this stalemate, America ceases to be a military and economic superpower, leaving us vulnerable to a long-range-nuclear-capable Iran. Finally, we’re forced to cozy up to China, reopening trade as a safeguard against annihilation by Islamic fundamentalists. Either that, or Iran nukes us, and China takes our untouched ANWR and offshore oil for itself afterward.

Either way — by global warming or mushroom clouds — we end up fried by radiation.

Of course, this is a nightmare scenario, and only one of the myriad possibilities that could actually happen. I’m extrapolating it only to make a point: That what’s best for the Earth in EVERY way is a powerful America that burns oil more cleanly than our competitors (we already do) and consumes enough petroleum to stay more industrially productive (we certainly don’t) than nondemocracies that will put the environment last — places like China, India, and Africa.

In Part 2 of this essay, I’ll show you how a new cold war for oil and gas is beginning between the U.S. and China — and how we’re already losing it. I’ll also show you some scary bellwethers of the mainstream political winds in this country regarding energy use, plus some more proof that the U.S. is the cleanest, most environmentally friendly world power on Earth…

Focusing on the burning truth — even if it’s inconvenient,

Jim Amrhein
Contributing editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder
June 20, 2006