I used to blame Reagan for everything, but I think I'm going to switch to a new scapegoat: the Internet. I spent the weekend (as usual) being treated to tinfoil hats on parade in various settings, and it struck me again just what a wonderful job the Internet does of allowing crazy people to share and reinforce their delusions. From fantasies about oil being a continually renewing resource to a weird belief that if you don't like existing laws, you can declare yourself a sovereign citizen, ignore any and all laws you don't particularly like, and do whatever the heck you want without any bad consequences, the Internet seems to provide a wonderful venue for nurturing lunacy.
The oil fantasy is one that bubbles up occasionally, but seems to be gaining traction now that gas prices are getting higher and Americans are being forced to pay more at the pump. In essence, the fantasy is that crude oil is not a fossil fuel but is instead the product of pressures exerted deep within the earth, somewhere down around the core, and thus continually renews itself. Ergo, we can't ever run out, and energy conservation is all just a bizarre plot by socialist-communist-pinko-treehuggers to force us all to "live like Haitians."
I don't know. Based on what I can recall of general science, the semi-liquid stuff that gets created by pressures deep within the earth and forced up towards the surface doesn't bear much of a resemblance to crude oil. To me it's always looked more like the stuff that comes bubbling out of Mt. Kilauea in Hawai'i. You know, lava. Molten rock. Not exactly refinery material. But, from what callers to C-SPAN had to say, apparently whole herds of highly educated geologists are wrong because someone on the Internet has a more appealing idea.
By an odd coincidence, right after hearing the delusional loons blathering about peak oil being a myth, a plot concocted by George Soros and Al Gore to force us happy consumers into a life of self-imposed deprivation, I happened to read an article in Orion magazine about the Alaska pipeline. Turns out the amount of oil in Alaska that had been a veritable flood a couple decades ago is slowing to a trickle. Wells are running dry. Apparently the oil field at Prudhoe Bay hasn't gotten the message that it's supposed to be infinitely renewable. In fact, it appears that one reason there's so much pressure to start drilling on the North Slope where it had been off-limits before (i.e., the wildlife refuge) isn't to add to an existing oil supply, but to make sure there's enough available to go through the pipeline to keep it from rusting. Volume has been steadily dropping, and fairly soon internal corrosion could become a problem.
Then, after hearing tinfoil hat types telling the moderator on C-SPAN that oil is infinite, that evening I was treated to sovereign citizens on "60 Minutes." Just how many brain cells does a person have to lose before he or she slides over into a happy delusional state that has a person believing that if you write stuff using red crayon, it doesn't count? Or that you can make your own license plates and the police will be okay with it? Apparently, thanks again to the Internet, there's a growing community of loons that think they can negate over 200 years of legislation by doing the equivalent of clicking their heels together and thinking of home.
The stupid, it burns.