For those who don’t know, the title of this blog comes from Jimmy Carter’s famous “Crisis of Confidence” speech that he made on July 15, 1979. This speech was one of a series of earnest speeches about the American people’s dependence on oil that derailed Carter’s political career. One of the key passages in his speech is this gem:
“In little more than two decades we’ve gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It’s a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation. The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.”
Naturally, Carter got hammered in the 1980 elections by a man who promised “Morning in America” instead of malaise, sweaters, and getting by with less. The timely arrival of Alaskan and North Sea oil made Reagan look like a genius, and it gave us a temporary glut of supplies that launched a huge economic boom that lasted until the early 2000’s…
Fast forward to 2006. In the last year we’ve seen the price of gasoline here in god’s country jump alomst 50%. While there was much gnashing of teeth and wailing after the initial post-Katrina price spike, this spring the price of gas has gone from close to $2.00 per gallon (where it was mid-winter), to $2.93 a gallon right before the July 4th holiday. This time around, we’ve accepted it with some black humour courtesy of TV and newspaper reports, but with little outrage. We are so well trained…
Investment banker Matthew Simmons has gone from being an insider on Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force to becoming one of the more outspoken leaders of the peak oil movement. He brings instant credibility to the subject due to his history as a true oil industry inside player and prominent Republican supporter in a movement largely made up of left-leaning radicals and environmentalists.
Mr. Simmons recently gave a presentation and speech at the Department of Defense entitled “The Energy Crisis has Arrived” as part of an “Energy Conversation series” that took place on June 20th of this year. While I haven’t heard the audio of his speech or of any Q&A session, you can easily figure out the tone of the subject based on the slide presentation that I have linked to above. The final few slides are where the meat of the subject is, and I was reminded of Carter’s “Moral Equivalent of War” analogy almost immediately.
Take a few minutes to check out Simmons’ presentation. This is what the executives at the DOD are being told about the world’s energy situation, while we’re seeing little in the media about it but stories about where to find the cheapest gas in town, great places to take a one-tank vacation, and the occasional story about outraged Congressmen “investigating” big oil but ultimately doing nothing.
The time to start preparing for a tectonic shift in our American way of life is now.