As a follow-up to a recent letter, I would like to offer more about the historic ongoing inflation. The world economy is built on hydrocarbons – such as oil, gas and coal. More than 84 percent of the world’s energy, I dare say the world economy, is fossil-fuel based. Banning fracking or fossil fuels is wrong on many levels.
A barrel of oil or cubic foot of natural gas is far more than a gallon of gas or BTU of heat. Some 90 percent of this newspaper’s ink comes from soy beans fertilized, harvested and manufactured from fossil fuel. Same with everything you eat. Farmers are huge users of hydrocarbon-based products from drying seeds to fertilizers, weed control, harvesting equipment. How do you think 1.3 percent of the population (farmers and ranchers) feeds the rest of Americans? The hydrocarbon economy. Food prices rise with oil prices. A produce wholesaler I know said 45 percent is transportation alone.
The computer used to write and send this, monitor to read it, newspaper carrier to deliver it, electricity to illuminate it, coffee (and cup) you are drinking, clothes you wear are all brought by plastics and hydrocarbon-based chemicals. Your wall paint, floor covering, picture frames, light fixtures, countertops, cabinets, food containers, water bottles, eyeglasses and cosmetics all come from oil and natural gas. Solar and wind power generation would not happen without oil and gas.
When oil prices increase, so do products. The benefits of these things coming from the same gas and oil is there is precious little waste in each barrel. If we quit using even part of oil, it will create waste, and costs to drill, transport, refine and produce will skyrocket. Rockefeller used oil to make kerosene for lamps in the late 1800s and dumped waste (gasoline) into rivers until automobiles came along.
If you quit using all fossil fuels, we could not afford the millions of chemical-based products. We would revert to the turn of the century. Oil and gas are as essential to life as we know it is air and water.
Today’s inflation is not because of Putin’s war. Putin didn’t help, but fuel prices started up when the Biden administration declared war on fossil fuels. Putin’s war will push up prices of bread now that Ukraine’s wheat fields are decimated. It will slow shipments of Potash, a prime element in making fertilizer. This inflation isn’t going to subside anytime soon.
The war on fossil fuels is as ill-conceived as banning air or water. Implementing that war is a fool’s errand, and Washington is full of fools.