Doing the right thing • 27 June 2008 • The SnowBlog

Doing the right thing

Currently I'm reading Winning the Oil Endgame, by the excellent Amory Lovins. I've got as far as the author laying out all the reasons and the central summary of the book and I'm about to get into the detail. Having read his work before, I don't think I'm likely to be let down by what follows. And the idea is this: being a gas-guzzling nation isn't a great idea for America even if (and it's a huge 'if') you set aside any thoughts of global climate change. That's because the gas-guzzling lifestyle wastes most of the oil it consumes. It's also because America puts vast amounts of cash and effort into securing its future oil supplies. Even before the current Iraq adventure, America was spending billions on keeping troops ready to deploy in the Middle East - by some estimates the cost was around $25 per barrel. (And in the Seventies, Nixon was apparently discussing invading Saudi if they continued to keep the price of oil high.) And sudden oil price spikes have been seen as an important factor in the last few American recessions. (This book was written a couple of years ago, so I suspect there'll be another data point to add to that trend when the second edition is printed.) So the book's central thesis is that it would save America a lot of money and hassle to wean itself off oil. There would be a lot of investment required but it would more than pay off: economically, in terms of national security, in terms of world opinion and in terms of not nuking the planet's thermostat. It's both a moral imperative and a profit opportunity. Which would be a very uplifting and reassuring message... if I thought there was a chance someone might act on it. (Can someone send a copy of this book to Upcoming President Obama with a 'very urgent' sticker on it.)
I'm really currying favour here, because I know Amory Lovins is a personal hero of one SnowBlog reader. If I add a quote from Nixon, I know I can keep at least one other SnowBlog reader (and Nixon fan) happy: President Nixon addressing Congress in 1971: "One reason we use energy so lavishly today is that the price of energy does not include all the social costs of producing it. The costs incurred in protecting the environment and the health and safety of workers, for example, are part of the real costs of producing energy - but they are not now all included in the price of the product."


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