Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States and the only one not to be elected as either President of Vice President, isn’t even in the ground yet but some of him is being resurrected. Over at Gristmill Dave Roberts has an excellent piece on Ford’s 1975 State of the Union speech (complete with a long excerpt of the relevant part) where the former President worried over the country’s loss of energy independence.
In it he noted that America’s surplus oil — and its attendant ability to stabilize world oil prices and prevent the emergence of a petroleum cartel — had vanished in 1970; we had become net importers of oil. He worried about our loss of energy independence and recommended a crash course in energy production.
You will recall that President Carter took those concerns seriously and put in place programs to address them.
But the cartel that formed after we lost our energy independence, OPEC, quite enjoyed our dependence. Rather than use it to hurt us, it plied the world market with cheap oil, upon which floated enormous U.S. prosperity. Ronald Reagan abandoned all pretense of fighting for energy independence and instead cruised on cheap-oil-driven economic growth to “Morning in America.”
Reagan’s decision to suck at the teat of OPEC, and offer political obeisance in return, was driven by many things, not least political expedience, but high among them was the realization that cheap oil prosperity could help us expand our military and weaponry and spend the Soviet Union into the dirt. (Dave Roberts, Gristmill)
Aside from the thorny question raised in the last paragraph as to who lost The Cold War first and why, the consequences are all too evident:
An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake.
“It really is incredible,” said Warwick Vincent of Universite Laval, one of the few people to have laid eyes on the scene. “It’s like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf.”
The breakup was so powerful, earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up the tremors as the 3,000- to 4,500-year-old shelf tore away from its fjord on Ellesmere.
It broke up 16 months ago, but no one was present to see it. The scientists say they are only now making public details after piecing together what occurred using seismic monitors and Canadian and U.S. satellites.
They say the ice shelf collapse, suspected to have been caused by global warming, is the biggest in Canada in 30 years and is indicative of the transformation under way on Ellesmere, Canada’s most northern land mass.
“We are seeing incredible changes,” said Vincent, whose group is studying the island’s disappearing ice shelves and their unique ecosystems. “People talk of endangered animals – well, these are endangered landscape features and we’re losing them.”
The Ayles ice shelf was one of six ice shelves left in Canada, remnants of a vast icy fringe that used to cover the top end of Ellesmere.
Scientists consider the Canadian shelves, located about 800 kilometres south of the North Pole, sentinels that reflect the accelerating change in the Arctic.
In 2002, one of Vincent’s graduate students, Derek Mueller, discovered that Ellesmere’s Ward Hunt ice shelf had cracked in half. The researchers have also seen the sudden collapse of ice dams and the draining of 30-kilometre-long lakes into the sea. (Montreal Gazette)
This is only a bit of this article, which is scary as hell. The connection to Ford, Reagan and the Bushes, however, is in how they used cheap oil, offered to keep us dependent, to keep prices down and business and the military in the pink. Now that we are fully addicted, we are forced to more drilling, more fossil fuels, deregulation of natural gas and more of everything because we didn’t invest in alternatives and conservation to the extent needed.
Instead of quoting Gerald Ford’s State of the Union (which you can see at the Gristmill post), I’ll go to that other sage of the sixties, Tom Lehrer, in his song, The Old Dope Peddler:
The Old Dope Peddler by Tom Lehrer
When the shades of night are falling,
Comes a fellow ev’ryone knows,
It’s the old dope peddler,
Spreading joy wherever he goes.
Ev’ry evening you will find him,
Around our neighborhood.
It’s the old dope peddler
Doing well by doing good.
He gives the kids free samples,
Because he knows full well
That today’s young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow’s clientele.
Here’s a cure for all your troubles,
Here’s an end to all distress.
It’s the old dope peddler
With his powdered ha-happiness.
OPEC, Exxon, Shell, Conoco, BP, etc. Doing well by doing good.