I am more than a little bothered by the fact that junior decided to ignore the will of the American people and instead send another 20,000 of our youth to Iraq.
I am troubled by the fact that junior continues to portray Iraq as the source of 911 terrorists when the CIA found no involvement in terrorism by Iraq.
We face some real problems on this planet, global warming being one major problem, dead zones in the ocean being another.
Presently, 20% of the world government budgets are wasted on military expenditures, 6% of the world GNP goes to the military.
In 2005, the US consumption of oil was 20.8 million barrels per day. The military directly consumed 132,788 barrels of oil in 2005. This may sound like a drop in the bucket but remember that the US has outsourced many of the functions traditionally done directly by the military, supply line and security for example.
It’s impossible to know the REAL percentage of the GNP dedicated to military expenditure, but the above the board percentage is a little more than 6%. This does not include though many ancillary expenses nor does it speak for the huge black budget figures that are not available to the public. Even at the 6% figure, that translates into a real consumption of around 1,248,000 barrels per day.
2006 oil production in Iraq was 2.14 million barrels per day, still 400,000 less than pre-occupation levels. So our military consumes more than half of Iraq’s entire production. Between the reduction in production and the waste, together this is taking more than half of Iraq’s oil production off the world market.
In case you’ve been wondering why you’re paying almost $3/gallon for gas (more in some regions), when you take half of the production of oil from country with the 2nd largest oil reserves in the middle east, you are going to create shortages and drive the price up.
This is directly ruining the US economy. Oil has recently come down to around $55 per barrel, from at times more than $70, but pre-war it was under $40, usually close to $30. The direct result of this has been a huge increase in the US trade deficit.
The huge increases in the US trade deficit has weakened the dollar against other currencies and the result of that is that the fed has had to raise interest rates to keep foreign governments from totally divesting of US currency, thus causing the value of the dollar to totally plummet. The result of the increased interest rate, combined with a record national deficit financed at that high rate, is to ruin the economy.
Because the US economy is the biggest economy in the world, around 13,475 billion, when the US economy suffers so goes the rest of the world.
In 2005, in terms of purchasing parity, Chinas national GDP was 8,883 billion, at the official exchange rate (because China currency is not yet fully floating), 2,225 billion. I wasn’t able to find the GNP rate for China for 2006, but I did find the growth rate in 2006 was 10.2%, and so the 2006 rate can be calculated as 9,789.07 in reach purchasing power, and 2,451 billion under the official exchange rate if they haven’t changed since 2005 (and they probably have). The US debt is 70% of GNP, China debt is 10% of their GNP. They’ve had 10.2% growth in the last two years.
Estimates abound that suggest that China’s economy won’t overtake ours until around 2050, however, as part of their gaining favorable nation trading status they had to agree to convert their currency to floating market rate currency. As they do this, the numerical GNP will come to reflect the real GNP. At the current growth rates of the US and Chinese economies, China will overtake the US in terms of real purchasing power in only six or seven years. However, given the debt ratios my expectation is that Chinas rate of growth will increase while ours decreases or even goes negative.
We need to fix our military expenditure and our energy situation if we are to survive as a nation. If you look at what is happening in this country now, we are going exactly the same direction that the Soviet Union went which eventually resulted in it’s break up.
We need to start tapping our own energy reserves, and we do have huge reserves in this country. There are heavy crude deposits on part with those in Venezuela in California. There are large deposits of oil shale and tar sands. Initially extraction was very expensive, but oil from these sources can now be produced for under $15/barrel. There is a deep super-giant oil field underlying Utah which is sweet light crude, but to get to it requires drilling 20,000+ feet through granite bedrock as this oil is under a granite capstone as predicted by the abiotic oil theory. There is a super-giant field recently discovered in the Gulf of Mexico that is larger than Ghawar, formerly the worlds largest and it is my understanding the quality of that oil is good as well, but that requires deep sea off-shore oil drilling.
The problem is that Saudi production only costs around $7/barrel, Iraq, less than $4 if you don’t factor in the occupation expenses picked up by US tax payers, so oil companies would prefer those sources.
There is also the issue of the quality of the oil reserves here. What we have here in the US is largely sour heavy crude and bitumen (very heavy hydrocarbons, tar like). Since the lighter distillates are the most needed for gasoline and diesel, and since sulfur content is regulated to minimize acid rain, refining these heavy sour crudes requires cracking (breaking the long hydrocarbon molecules into shorter molecules) and the removal of sulfur.
Existing US refineries are largely not equipped to deal with this heavy crude. The oil companies would rather extract oil cheaply in the middle east and elsewhere, that they can then refine cheaply, than extract oil in the US which is twice as expensive as many foreign sources, and build additional refinery capacity that is equipped to handle heavy sour crude and bitumen.
For environmental reasons we really need to employ alternatives to burning hydrocarbons for energy, however, in order to avoid complete economic collapse, we have to eliminate our dependence upon foreign oil now. We have adequate domestic reserves to meet our needs for many years, and that can be greatly expanded if we switch to plug-in hybrids which, save for the Pacific Northwest region, can live on surplus power production and grid capacity.
In the Pacific Northwest, where a large amount of the power is hydro which can be throttled as necessary, there is no such thing as “surplus” power, there is only so much water and it can be used whenever so surplus capacity here does not exist.
The bulk of the US drives less than 50 miles per day, so plug-in hybrids capable of going 40 miles on batteries could eliminate 80% of the US gasoline consumption. About 45% of US oil consumption is gasoline used by cars and trucks. If we could eliminate 80% of that, we would eliminate 36% of US total consumption and reduce our oil imports by more than 50%.
This would be a huge win for our economy and environment. Transportation as a whole accounts for 69% of US oil consumption.
It is my belief that we should electrify our railways and go back to relying largely on trains for cargo transportation instead of trucks. Electricity can be produced from any energy source, including many renewable environmentally friendly sources, solar, wind, geo-thermal, and hydro-electric.
And with respect to hydro-electric, I’m troubled by the recent blow up the dam trend based upon the theory that they are responsible for fish population reductions.
The majority of these dams have existed for thirty or more years, yet, thirty years ago there wasn’t a problem with fish runs until the problems of over fishing and dead zones in the oceans became common.
The solution to the fish population issue is to solve the problem of nutrients from fertilizer run-off and animal and human waste, from going into the oceans. We should start by eliminating unnecessary fertilizing. Having a green lawn isn’t worth killing off all the life in the oceans. The use of fertilizers can be greatly reduced by more intelligent farming practices. One large problem is over-watering which leaches all the minerals out of the soil, down into the rivers, requiring fertilizers to replace them which are subsequently washed down the rivers by over-watering.
I’ve mentioned this before and I’ve had people try to tell me that we’re using water much more efficiently now but it just ain’t so. Anybody that believes otherwise only needs to drive up to a rural area like Burlington WA area, and look. You can’t help but see the huge circular sprinkler systems that are dumping so much water on the field that part of it is under water. These really should be replaced with much more efficient computer controlled drip irrigation.
If we can reduce or eliminate the need for fertilizers, we can also reduce our oil consumption because many of the fertilizers are petroleum derived.
If you buy the line that this has already been done, I suggest you go to maps.google.com and take a look at a satellite image of any farming region. You will see the circular growing areas characteristic of these large circular sprinkler systems. These systems basically have a big pipe with sprinklers that is suspended above the ground on a series of wheels and revolves around a central hub. Because the water is sprayed great distances in the air, a large percentage is lost to evaporation. Because there is no active control, too much water is applied.
Sewage treatment should all have tertiary treatment and animal wastes that are composted and then used for fertilizer should be composted in such a way that water can’t leach nutrients from the composting waste and transport it to the rivers. When the composted waste is used, watering should be carefully controlled to prevent run-off.