Saturday, February 03, 2007

Exposing hidden costs of Middle East oil

Have you read the jaw-dropping Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's global warming report ?

I skimmed the headlines and was truly appalled, but because I love to wallow in misery and have to have every tooth-gnashing factoid (the headlines were just that: headlines), I went looking for a source that could give me the whole skinny. I finally arrived at this here website for a "fair summary" of the report. Boy, is it grim. So, to cheer myself up, I thought I might cogitate a bit on the price of oil instead, so I went to the public library and here's what I learned in the latest issue of Futurist Magazine.

Between the two Iraq wars, the cost of maintaining a defense readiness posture in the Persian Gulf region (including troops stationed in Saudi Arabia) cost $49.1 Billion annually, for a total cost of nearly half a trillion dollars to the American taxpayer. This figure does not include the cost of the second war in Iraq (Operation "Enduring Freedom"-har!). That little fiasco's cost is running into nearly half a trillion dollars as this is written. But there is another, hidden cost to the American consumer, particularly consumers of gasoline, but not just them.

That cost of maintaining our military presence in the Middle East works out to an additional, hidden cost of $1.17 per gallon of gasoline used in America during the same time period. This additional extra dollar-plus was not added to the pump price for American taxpayers to see, but was, of course, deducted from the available funding of all sorts of things, including,

 The loss of 828,400 jobs in the US economy
 $159 billion in GDP annually
 $13.4 billion in federal and state revenues annually
 Total economic penalties of $297.2-$304.9 billion annually
 The Twin Towers atrocity and economic loss as a direct result (including original building costs plus insurance payouts in the billions)

All items taken into account, the real cost of a gallon of gasoline is more than $10.

But let's not stop there. Bearing in mind that the majority of global warming is due to fossil fuel use, we must consider collateral damage costs. When we take into account the rising sea levels and loss of seafront properties, drowning polar bears, acid rain, extinct species, average temperatures rising to 7 degrees Farenheit (low estimate)and increased A/C usage plus the concomitant costs of crop loss, farms wiped out, heat stress in livestock (dead ducks, cows, sheep, etc.), water tables damaged due to the incursion of seawater, hurricanes estimated to average Force 4 plus, and more woes than you can shake a thermometer at, the dollar costs are going to be astronomical, unimaginable.

From the NOAA website:

"Our climate is warming at a faster rate than ever before recorded. Ignoring climate change and the most recent warming patterns could be costly to the nation. Small changes in global temperatures can lead to more extreme weather events including, droughts, floods and hurricanes," NOAA Administrator D. James Baker said.

At the news conference, FEMA reported that damage from more frequent and severe weather calamities and other natural phenomena during the past decade required 460 major disasters to be declared, nearly double the 237 declarations for the previous ten-year period and more than any other decade on record. Financially, comparing a three-year period of 1989 through 1991, and 1997 through 1999, the federal costs of severe weather disasters rose a dramatic 337 percent in the latter part of the decade.(my emphasis)

You really, really need to get rid of that SUV soon, and learn to ride a bike.

Source: The Energy Project: Independence by 2020, article by Tsvi Bisk, The Futurist magazine, Jan-Feb, 2007 (Pay-to-download article on the Net, free at your local library)

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