On Page A1 of today’s paper, you will see a story about the likelihood of the United States becoming the world’s biggest producer of liquid petroleum products. I find that absolutely flabbergasting. It’s happening in spite of the best efforts of many environmental groups, and many in Congress, to shut down oil production because of what they see as its bad environmental effects.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I remember, we were being told that the world would run out of recoverable oil by the end of the 20th century. And we were being told that not by hand-wringing hippies, but by some of the world’s best environmentalist brains.
I remember going to a presentation by one of them, in an auditorium packed with people, and having him tell us that by the 1990s nobody would be able to afford gasoline, the price would be so high, and that by the year 2000 cars and trucks would have to run on something other than gasoline.
Even the world of entertainment centered on the soon to be lack of gasoline. Remember “The Road Warrior” and “Mad Max,” the post-apocalyptic gasoline-shortage movies that made Mel Gibson a star?
Those attitudes persist, and that persistence hasn’t been without benefit. If we want them, we can buy more efficient cars because governments have mandated them, and smart manufacturers have filled those mandates. And natural gas is gradually becoming the fuel of choice in places where it is easy to fuel with it. Here in Madera, for example, many government vehicles are running on natural gas.
President Carter believed the scientists when they said oil was almost gone. He called getting new energy the moral equivalent of war, and that attitude cost him the presidency.
I often wonder how those scientists could have been so wrong, or perhaps so politically correct.