To a geologist like me, it was most notable by its absence in the political campaigns that lurched to their conclusions in November. I’m talking about an energy plan with real teeth, one that addresses everything from national security to the cost of energy to greenhouse warming of the planet.
The best-known geologist in the country is T. Boone Pickens. He’s now in his 80s – and he is still tirelessly devoted to pointing out to all who will listen just how much it costs us to not have a meaningful national energy plan. I recently listened to one of his lectures on the subject courtesy of the TED talks hosted on an Internet site.
Pickens points out that there are 12 aircraft carriers in the world. One is being built by China, the rest belong to the U.S. Our 11 aircraft carriers are divided between their homeports and being stationed in the Middle East. They are there to keep the shipping lanes open for Mideast petroleum.
Pickens says that since 1976 the world has spent $7 trillion on OPEC oil. That’s been the cost of the fuel and the cost of our military involvements in the region. He says it’s the largest single transfer of wealth the world has ever seen.
OPEC is led by oil giant Saudi Arabia. It’s sometimes said that the cost of producing a barrel of oil in Saudi Arabia is only about $5. But Pickens says the Saudis feel they need $94 a barrel to meet their social commitments, the goods and services they fund with their oil sales. And the world essentially pays what the Saudis decide they need, Pickens maintains.
Across the world we spend so much because our dependence on petroleum is so real. Here in the U.S. we use about 20 million barrels of crude per day. We produce about 8 million barrels – the rest is imported from a number of places with 5 million coming from OPEC.