Day By Day

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Winning Through Conservation is Nuts: Steyn Explains

There is a popular idea going around that we can defund Middle East terrorists and their sponsors by cutting back on petroleum usage in the U.S. This is nonsense on stilts. Mark Steyn explains:
[T]he premise is completely false: If you trade in the Expedition for a Honda Civic, that oil you save won't stay in the ground and thus impoverish the Saudis; it will merely be sold to the Chinese and Indians and other fast developing nations who will replace America and Europe as buyers of the cheapest and most easily extractable oil in the world. So the sheikhs will be as rich as ever and funding as many Islamist nutters. But we'll be driving worse cars and feeling virtuous.
Read it here.

And responding to the objection that any reduction in demand will hurt the Saudis, he writes:

Two points. First: American demand would have to fall precipitously to put a dent in the rise in global demand due to Asian industrialization. In 1990 China consumed 2.4 million bpd. Fifteen years later, it was 7 million bpd.

Second: Saudi oil is cheaply extractable oil. That's why King Abdullah gets the romantic hand-holding Presidential photo ops at Crawford and the Premier of Alberta doesn't. A reduction in global demand would hurt Canadians and other non-jihadist producers long before it hurts the Saudis.

Bottom line: Until we are in the post-oil era, the Saudis will always be oil-rich.

In short:

[T]he idea that we win the war with a passenger rail network is nuts.

That's the way it is with most activist messages. They are so narrowly focused that they fail to consider the broader context of the programs and policies they advocate. The activist world view is simplistic and irresponsible, fueled by outrage and a sense of exclusion; that is why it proves to be so appealing to adolescents and academics.

Read the response here.