Petroleum’s conception goes back about 1.6 billion years when a cyanobacterium (now confined to volcanic pools and the ocean deeps) was engulfed by an oxygen respiring bacterium becoming a chloroplast that allowed vegetation to lead a revolution of life on the Earth’s surface. At the surface dead plants with that stored solar energy drifted down to the ocean bottoms or piled up in swamps and wetlands and was covered by the sediment from eons of erosion. The ignition of it every drop of it or chunk of it (in the case of coal) releases both that energy and the carbon atoms that locked it up.
Humans, now seven billion strong (only 2,555,982,611 billion at my birth in 1950) have exploited this resource until the liquid portion, petroleum, has become scarce.
Although today’s GOP fundamentalists are committed to teaching that the world is only a few thousand years old even when I was a kid the popular imagination lit up at the prospect of dinosaurs and their ancient lives. So much so that kids like me were led to the belief that our Dad’s were filling up their cars gas tanks with the remains of ancient reptiles.
The one celled precursors to animals, like plants, also engulfed energy producing organisms. They are called mitochondria and they are found in virtually every animal cell. The million things cells do to keep multi-celled animals functioning don’t fit into the accounting of Earth’s seven day creation.
Perhaps it is the GOP’s religious convictions that promote Sarah Palin’s “Drill Baby Drill” politics. But those convictions run up against the limited easily available solar energy locked up in the Earth.
For most of the last century, cheap oil powered global economic growth. But in the last decade, the price of oil has quadrupled, and that shift will permanently shackle the growth potential of the world’s economies.
The countries guzzling the most oil are taking the biggest hits to potential economic growth. That’s sobering news for the U.S., which consumes almost a fifth of the oil used in the world every day. Not long ago, when oil was $20 a barrel, the U.S. was the locomotive of global economic growth; the federal government was running budget surpluses; the jobless rate at the beginning of the last decade was at a 40-year low. Now, growth is stalled, the deficit is more than $1 trillion and almost 13 million Americans are unemployed.
With seven billion humans using more and bigger finely tuned machines to tap the energy from the Earth’s stored carbon reserves and discarding the carbon as CO2 by the billions of tons Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are able to store more solar infrared energy (heat energy) rather than reflecting quite so much back out into space.
The GOP fundamentalists tell us that trumpeting this theory is nothing more than a plot by energy scientists to secure more government grants for their research. The scientists are belatedly doubling down on the theory and gradually converting more of the rare scientific skeptics to their cause.
The same mercenary interests might be imputed to elected GOP fundementalists who rake in lots of political funds from
Money talks and so do GOP converts to global warming skepticism like Mitt Romney.
Maybe today’s Republicans believe that our gas and oil come from dinosaurs like the colt-osaurus that Jesus rode into Jerusalem at Passover. No wonder the children laid palm leaves at his feet as he passed along.
I bet today’s Republicans would like to see Jesus return and transform our rivers into oil. Of course we humans were doing that ourselves until the do-gooder liberals and environmentalists stuck their nose in our business and cleaned up our rivers for fish not humans.