Today, May 29th, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it has been investigating the possible manipulation of oil prices by speculators. The price of oil then proceeded to fall approximately four dollars a barrel in very short order.
The investigation apparently began sometime in December 2007 when oil was around $96 a barrel. By some estimates the price of oil may be inflated as much as one-third by this manipulation.
But why the surprise? Isn't the price of oil mostly manipulation? That is the capitalist way. Squeeze every cent of profit possible. The invisible hand of the market has no ears to hear cries of suffering.
The real surprise is that the oil producers let this occur. The price of oil seems to have jump started discussions of alternative energy. Perhaps if the price were to get even higher, say in line with European prices, we might actually begin to develop an energy policy in this country. If we start thinking about our addiction to cheap oil we might begin to look for another way.
In many ways the availability of cheap oil has stifled our efforts to develop alternative sources of energy. Increasing fuel standards and hybrid cars may make us feel like we're doing something but the fact remains that even these modest solutions (the only kind we're offered) are nothing more than a continuation of the use of an outdated technology.
Since January of this year, I have heard more discussions of alternative energy than ever before. A simple search for the term will reveal a rising interest in developing new approaches to the energy conundrum. Maybe the speculators have done us all a favor. By manipulating the price to such levels maybe we are starting to pay attention.
If it would cause this country to develop an energy policy maybe we should all hope for $10 a gallon gas. Of course, it doesn't matter if we hope for it or not, it will be here soon enough. And that is the real twist to the price of oil. Cheap oil is over, but if we realize it too soon, we might do something about it. If we keep thinking oil is the only way, and burning more and more petrol is the only way to power our civilization then we'll still be paying for it when it reaches $100 a gallon.
Can't happen? Yeah, you're right, big business would never put profits ahead of the good of society. That's why we have such a wonderful national health care system.
British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs
- 11 workers killed in initial blast
- Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
- 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
- Gulf Fisheries Industry
- Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
- Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)
Worst Oil Spills
- Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
- Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
- Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
- Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
- Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
- Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
- South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
- France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
- Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
- Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
- Source: Mother Nature Network. mnn.com. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.
Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)
- 1957 Windscale, UK
- 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
- 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
- 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
- 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
- 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
- 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
- 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
- 1989 Griefwald, Germany
- 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
- 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
- 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
- Source: Benjamin Sovacool
Mining Disasters (Under Construction)
- China 1942 - 1549 deaths
- France 1906 - 1100 deaths
- Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
- Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
- South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
- Source: Epic Disasters Website
- Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.
OIL IS OVER! - Resources
- The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
- The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
- Demian - Herman Hesse
- Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
- The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
- Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
- Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
- 1984 - George Orwell
- Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
- The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
- The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
- Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
- The Quiet American - Graham Greene
- Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
- Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
- Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
- Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
- We - Yevgeny Zamyatin
- John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
- Patti Smith
- The Clash - the only band that matters
- Billy Bragg
- Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
- Art Blakey
- Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
- PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
- Woody Guthrie
- Michael Franti (Spearhead)
- Public Enemy
- Ray Charles - the Genius
- Bob Dylan
- Velvet Underground
- Flaming Lips
- John Doe & X
- The Beatles
opiate of the masses
- God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
- I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
- The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
- If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
- No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
- When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
- If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
- The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
- Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
- God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer