July 28th, 2008

Money

Should oil be cheap?

The Real Question: Should Oil Be Cheap? (BusinessWeek)
An interesting article. I have to say I was put off by the first page, which mainly consisted of anecdotes of companies and people who had benefited from high oil prices. I am sure you could easily raise two counter-examples for each of them. After all, energy is what drives life. It has been that way for over 4 billion years, so live with it. The question is rather whether oil is a good energy source. It was certainly convenient, but it may no longer be so. It is a limited resource after all, so it cannot possibly stay cheap forever. And like all fossil fuels, it has a side effect on the climate. We should not just look surprised when that happens, since we have known it for a couple centuries. Rather, we should consciously manipulate CO2 levels (and methane levels) to achieve the climate we want: Raising levels when an ice age threatens, but otherwise keep them low. This is well within the technically possilbe, just not the politically possivle, because People Are Stupid. And that's why the proposal of the article is wasted: It is not politically possible in the Land of the Free to introduce that kind of tax. You need people with some experience in serfdom to grumpily adjust to such things. Either that, or nations of enlightened beings. Take your pick of which I live in, we've had carbon taxes for a long time already.