Friday, February 25, 2005


Thanks to a news item I ran across on the Net yesterday and a short article I saw in USA Today today and the seemingly inexplicable spike in oil prices the last few days, I have come up with a lovely new conspiracy theory. If you've nothing better to do at the moment...

The Net item, which I've encountered once or twice before on legitimate journalistic websites, is about TDP, which stands for Thermal Depolymerization Process, a spanking new technology that, essentially, can break down virtually any organic substance--anything composed largely of carbon--into two or three substances, one of which is crude oil. Old tires, plastic of all sorts, livestock residue, harbor muck, household garbage, agricultural waste, human waste, lumber industry waste, rap CDs, leg warmers, cell phones, can all be turned into cheap petroleum. On paper, where it admittedly won't have much impact, they calculate that just the garbage, rubbish, trash and byproducts generated by America in a year could be converted into about 4 billion barrels of crude, which is damn near how much we burn up annually. It is estimated by some, or at least by me, that the bullshit produced each month by the Bush administration alone could be depolymerized into enough oil in which to boil the entire population of Alabama, thereby killing two birds with one stone. I'm being a buffoon now, but everything about TDP's basic potential seems true.

The USA Today item was about how the three or four auto companies now making hybrid vehicles can't come anywhere near meeting the unexpected and overwhelming demand. And we're not just talking six-month waiting lists for individual customers, but whole fleet orders from rental companies, corporations, municipalities--a backlog the size of a glacier.

And a couple of other things: Palestine and Iraq. There's evidently something about being a citizen of Iran or Saudi Arabia and watching people in nearby or adjacent countries going out and actually voting that causes real insecurity if you're in power and real dissatisfaction if you aren't. The people who currently determine how much to charge for Mideast oil may be starting to suspect that their term in that office will, at some point far sooner than they would like, expire.

So, my current conspiracy theory is that the oil cartels, and specifically the House of Saud, the elephant in the OPEC pantry, sense that perhaps the gravy train is beginning to pull away from the station, that the combination of environmentalism, economics and science will inexorably lead to a reduced demand for their product not just in the long run, but possibly within this decade, and that geopolitical trends may be running against them. So they've decided to jack up the price and gouge while they can, while it's still a sellers' market, to flat out suck up every dime that they can while they can and keep the getaway choppers gassed and ready for that dash to Geneva.

Then again, maybe they've simply realized that the First World is populated by such incurable lifestyle junkies that they can price their petro-oxycontin as high as they damn well please.

thermal depolymerization process --


Blogger ....J.Michael Robertson said...

He's not an elitist. You may call him Comrade Science. Citizen Science works, too.

February 25, 2005 at 8:32 PM  

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