Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sleepwalking Through the Stormclouds Part 1

Inanity. That's the word I would use to describe our existence in America circa 2006. Think about our national conversation over the past 4-6 weeks:American Idol, who is the father
of Anna Nicole's baby, Final Four brackets, Don Imus. We are a society sleepwalking into a storm that has the potential to drastically change what we refer to as "our way of life". But guess what, most Americans don't seem to care or even have a clue as to what lurks on the horizon.

Thomas Friedman has an interesting article in today's NY Times Magazine ( registration might be required). Friedman calls for a Green New Deal, but this paragraph illustrates to me how Friedman misses the big picture:

" Equally important, presidential candidates need to help Americans understand that green is not about cutting back. It’s about creating a new cornucopia of abundance for the next generation by inventing a whole new industry."

This cornucopia of abundance is disturbing. Here is some recent news from "south of the border" that you might not see on your nightly feel good newscast. Mexico's premier oilfield, Cantarell is in major decline. Production has decreased by roughly 20% over the past year. Think about that for a second. In this world of non-stop growth, the second largest oilfield in the world has had a 20% decline in it's production volume and that piece of news hasn't even hit our collective radar screens. Forget about the fact that oil revenues fund 40% of the Mexican government expenditures, Mexico happens to be the third largest supplier of crude oil to the US and the second largest supplier of petroleum. It's not difficult to imagine growing Mexican unrest as various government promises go unfunded.

An important question to ask is how much longer can the US consume 25% of the world's crude production yet only possess 5% of its reserves? As long as we are on the subject this statistic blows my mind. The U.S. was importing 7% of its oil in 1929. Today it’s 70%.

I'll say it loudly and clearly. We need to collectively wake up. No offense to Tom Friedman, but he just doesn't get it and that is too bad. Friedman is influential and as long as he's unwilling to come to terms with the idea that we might have to live with less, it's unlikely that the unwashed masses will come to terms with it either.

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