Options Narrow With Oil Prices, Global Warming
As oil prices rise to record heights week by week, and global warming initiatives such as President Bush's latest proposal on it fail to show any substantial promise, the world's options are narrowing. Recent news is not good at all.
The price of oil seems to be forcing countries, such as Italy, which has just announced plans for a huge new, coal-fired electric power plant, to frantically seeks alternatives to the use of oil, even if such plants can only intensify pollution and global warming. Meanwhile, the use of bio-fuels as an alternative to oil are causing the price of basic foods, such as corn and rice, to increase, causing riots in a number of poverty-stricken countries not fortunate enough to have oil resources of their own.
In America, the economy is going downhill, and the airline industry is teetering toward bankruptcy and/or dramatically higher fares and reduced capacity by the rise in the oil price.
Greedy Arab countries and other oil producers are getting rich off these developments. We have to recognize the damage that they are causing us and take steps to control it.
It will not be long, at this rate, before we have energy wars. Perhaps the entire question of oil prices should be taken now to the UN Security Council, so that discussions can at least be initiated on palliative steps. Oil-produing Russia might veto such action, but China and India could well support it.
Some experts believe that worldwide oil production has already peaked and that tentatives, such as the Saudi announcement of plans to increase oil production in that country from 9 to 12 million barrels a day, cannot sufficiently affect the worldwide picture, with even recession in the U.S. and Europe, not curtailing the demand sufficiently to compensate for the rising demand in China and India.
Reduction in the availability of oil, if it happened by itself, could help stem the carbon emissions that fuel global warming. But the prospect of a shift to coal could make a bad situation worse.
President Bush's plan last week to reduce the rate of carbon emission increases now and stop the increases by 2025 is no solution. The next president, no matter who, is going to be constrained to do more.
What is frankly disheartening is that technological advance does not seem to be happening quickly enough to avoid a crisis. Nuclear energy could do so, but there is resistance to more nuclear plants in many countries, and the investment costs for it are, in any event, quite high.
Russ Stanton's appointment of Davan Maharaj as new managing editor of the L.A. Times is, I think, a positive step. Maharaj is an able editor, and, with his Business section expertise, he may be able to move more economic news out front in the newspaper, which has been too slow in happening.
Labels: Global warming