April 23, 2009

Big City Lights

I'm not a big city kind of guy. I love to visit them but have no interest in living in one, a small town with a mall within reasonable driving distance is fine with me.

Cities are important though, in a very real sense they are the hub and the heartbeat of a nation, its soul though is most often found in the rural areas. You can tell quite a bit about a nation, a state or a region by looking at its cities.

Take the current example in the United States of two cities, Dallas and Detroit. One is a growing vibrant bustling metropolis, the other a decaying shell of it's former self. Both are the centers of giant industries, Dallas the oil industry and Detroit the auto industry. The recent economic situation has little to do with the current condition of these cities, Dallas has been prospering and growing through good times and bad for many years and Detroit's woes predate the current economic conditions.

Dallas will continue to thrive simply because that despite the current hysteria over fossil fuels, the world will need oil for decades to come. Detroit on the other hand will probably fall further into the depths of despair and disrepair in large part though not totally due to that same hysteria over fossil fuels.

Once great giant corporations which were the lifeblood of the heartbeat of Detroit are collapsing bringing the city down with them. Despite the narrative popular in the main stream media and a certain political point of view, these corporations are failing in large part due to a belief that they did not build vehicles that met consumer needs. The truth is that they did build such vehicles but were forced through regulations to build vehicles at a loss that consumers really did not want. The wizards of Washington, the politician not the basketball team , waved their wands and determined that to protect us from a mythical threat, that they the wizards knew more than the engineers, the markets and the consumers what was best for the world. So Detroit is crumbling while Dallas still thrives.

The picture at the top is neither Dallas or Detroit, the beautiful new city of lights you see is Kuwait, a city in a desert land. Unlike Dallas which had been a thriving community even prior to the discovery of the importance of oil, Kuwait City owes it's very prosperity and existence to oil. Oil revenues have taken an impoverished land of nomads to the heights of wealth and better lives for its formerly impoverished citizens.

All this increased standard of living fueled as it were by a corresponding growth in prosperity in the western world fueled again by the industrialisation and technological advancements made possible by fossil fuels. In a common sense world this would be viewed as a win, win scenario.

Of course other great cities have sprung up due to the discovery of the many uses of fossil fuels. These cities reflect not just the wealth of kingdoms and potentates, but the rising of entire generations out of the depths of impoverishment to living conditions that were unthinkable to their countrymen only a generation ago. This is Dubai in the United Arab Emirates once one of the poorest place in the world, their living conditions seemed to have improved.

Other countries have used fossil fuels to generate economic growth beyond anything that seemed possible only 30 years ago. This is Shentzen in China. Although they have coal reserves second only to those of the United States, they now have to import it to keep their industrial economic engine running. Their economic growth fueled by their greatest asset, people, and the use of cheap energy is again elevating their populace from poverty to a higher standard of living.

Now we get to the point to this global view of city lights. Do you believe that any of these cities or more accurately nations that they represent are going to produce less or use less fossil fuels in the next century, than they would otherwise as a result of the scare over global warming?

Will the oil producing states anywhere reduce their output for any reason other than to maintain prices? Does anyone honestly believe that any of these societies will reduce their standard of living and economic growth by cutting back production to save the Earth from global warming? No every bit of fossil fuel that can be extracted and sold will be until they either run dry or a viable economical alternative is perfected.

Whether we in the United States and the so called developed countries reduce our consumption of fossil fuels is really irrelevant, the fossil fuels will be extracted and burnt by other countries who have grown accustomed to city light or even others who desire that prosperity for themselves.

Brazil has recently discovered vast oil reserves, will they forgo the prosperity their extraction will provide? Or Nigeria or Venezuela, or for that matter is Norway not going to exploit their known reserves?

Will China and India slow down their economies to save the Polar Bears? Will Putin's Russia quit producing their main economic source to save the hypothetical flooding of growing Bangladesh?

The answer to all of these of course is no. Whether or not we in the United States and the other guilt induced masochistic countries enact draconian measures to keep ourselves dependent on other countries fossil fuels and stymie our economic growth. Whether we brainwash our children into fear for their future and tax their parents to the point of depression. Whether we enslave ourselves to a way of life contrary to the liberty of the human spirit. Whether we throw away our great heritage of freedom, democracy, innovation and industriousness which is responsible for not only the invention of the lights but the electricity and the giant skyscrapers that make up the city lights, it matters not at all. Every bit of carbon dioxide that we will save will be joyfully spent by someone else. Our lights will dim and go out while theirs will glow in the prosperity we once knew all for the sake of a harmless gas.

Look at your once great cities America, they are going dark.



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