In what has become her style of politicking, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) went on another tirade. This time, “the girl from Brooklyn” clutched at her face mask and griped about crude oil, arguing that the energy source “is anything but cheap” as she referred to its long-term impacts on the planet and humanity’s future. But, as with her thoughts on inflation or monetary policy, AOC once again misses the mark on her lamentations against something that has lifted the world out of poverty and created – and will continue to create – generations of higher living standards. Long live Texas Tea!
The Cost of Crude Oil
Crude prices have rebounded over the last 18 months. Neophyte investors had thought this was the end of oil, anticipating that its crash below zero would mark the end of black gold. However, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil has soared 69% since August of last year. Indeed, WTI futures have slumped 8% over the last month after hitting a three-year high of $76, but they have recovered nicely overall.
Whether bubblin’ crude is trading for $33.64 or $76.98, the premier fossil fuel that the world relies on is cheap. Consider the process of extracting oil from the ground: preparing the rig site, drilling, cementing, completing the well, fracking, producing, and restoring the land. After this, the output needs to be transported, refined, administered, distributed, and shipped to marketplaces across the globe. Moreover, thanks to market innovation, it costs between $30 and $65 to extract 42 gallons of oil from the ground.
Crude is a diverse product, as a broad array of products require fossil fuels: cosmetics, eyeglasses, deodorant, feedstocks, apparel, and so much more. It keeps the lights on, charges smartphones, and allows households to binge on Seinfeld episodes at all times of the day. Even renewable energies depend on petrochemicals from oil and natural gas. For example, windmills rely on propylene and xylene for manufacturing engine houses and rotor blades. Still, all that for just $65? What a deal!
Fossil Fuels Save the World?
Ocasio-Cortez ostensibly turned oil and gas into a morality issue. But do the facts support this? Perhaps AOC is relying on her philosophy it is better “being morally right than factually correct.” Whatever the case may be, fossil fuels have been man’s best friend for the last 120 years, saving him from the wrath of Mother Nature, from blizzards to droughts.
For instance, climate-related deaths (extreme temperatures, floods, and storms) have collapsed 98% since the 1920s, even though atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from about 305 parts per million to more to more than 400 ppm. Put simply, even as temperatures have risen in the last century, fewer people are dying today from the Earth’s erratic behavior than they were before the rise of Big Oil.
In developing countries, families utilize antiquated forms of fuel to cook their food, such as cow dung and wood. This has resulted in high levels of indoor air pollution, killing millions of people. In these same places, the population is still suffering from bacteria-engulfed water, hazardous lands, and inadequate access to electricity to stay warm or cool, dispose of fecal matter, or treat disease. As energy becomes more abundant and inexpensive, poorer nations can consume oil that the West seemingly takes for granted, allowing them to enjoy the fruits of the industrial age.
Back home, the cheapness of fossil fuels has given Americans the opportunity to survive the freezing cold and endure the heatwaves by retreating to their climate-stable humble abodes. As Liberty Nation reported in April 2019:
“Between 2005 and 2010, the cost of natural gas relative to electricity tumbled 42%. The researchers deduced that these lower costs led to a 1.6% drop in the winter mortality rate for households using natural gas for heating. Overall, more than half the country utilizes this energy source, so the slide in prices cut the American winter mortality rate by 0.9%, or 0.4% annually.”
Indeed, the development and prevalence of energy derived from fossil fuels have not been without consequences. However, because of technological innovations and human ingenuity, the highly industrial economies have remarkably reduced the byproducts born from oil, natural gas, and coal. The private sector has manufactured mechanisms that essentially vacuum up the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, something that could accomplish what Paris Accord signatories have demanded since viewing former Vice President Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Fossil fuels are a win-win.
Solar and wind might be complementary components to power generation, but, as green-focused Europe has recently proven, the population is still getting bailed out by coal for energy needs. Thus, despite governments spending trillions of taxpayer dollars on green technology and inevitable boondoggles, mankind will always turn to fossil fuels, perhaps even when we graduate to a Type 1 Civilization.
Doomsday is Nigh
Liberty Nation‘s Caroline Adana recently reported on the doomsday rhetoric of the last 40 years, with the experts proclaiming that the end is near because humans are destroying the planet. As Adana wrote, little has changed between the 1980s and now: “The additional evidence amounts to computer model simulations and ‘expert judgment’ or a ‘quantitative survey of expert views.’ In plain language: opinion.” The left repeatedly moves the goalposts whenever their predictions turn out to be incorrect, declaring that the blue pearl of the cosmos is at the point of no return. Be it Earth Day or Earth Hour, the best way to celebrate the third rock from the sun is to crank up the air conditioner, turn on the lights, and fire up some Beyond Meat burgers and enjoy the advancements made, gender equality attained, and lives saved over the last century because of fossil fuels.