Thursday, October 13, 2005

Rising oil prices augur bleak times

Concord Monitor

August 29, 2005

For months I have watched as the gas station next door raised the prices of gasoline. I have engaged in conversations at the pump lamenting the ever-increasing cost. With summer ending, I think more and more about the spiraling costs of heating my home. But what is starting to creep into my consciousness is the potential effects this will have on my community.

Will the rise in fuel costs affect the way the fire department serves our community as larger portions of its budget go into fuel? Will trash pickup be affected as operating costs rise? Will schools be forced to shift more money from academics into physical plant maintenance? How about the cost of health care and EMS?

There is an emerging realization from geologists and oil service sectors that the rapid rise in fuel costs is a symptom of a larger crisis, peak oil, which occurs when demand outstrips the ability to process oil for consumption.

The rate of consumption is dictated by more than the number of processing plants. When oil is discovered, the light sweet crude is near the top - the easiest to process. The heavier and more sour the crude, the more costly and energy-intensive it becomes to process.

Simply adding more refineries is not an answer if new discoveries do not keep pace with demand. Demand rising faster than discovery will eventually lead to oil depletion.

The oil age will not, however, end when we run out of oil. It will end when the corporations can no longer make a healthy profit from oil.

Shortsighted governments may shift tax revenue from public infrastructure into more subsidies for Big Oil, but we will still need health care.

We will still need fire departments, education, trash pickup and home heating fuel.




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