In the Sherlock Holmes story “Silver Blaze,” there is an excellent bit of dialogue between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard, beginning with the Inspector:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

The curious incident of the quiet dog indicated that the mysterious man who stole the prize racehorse, Silver Blaze, was known to the dog, explaining why it didn’t bark.

In other news, I filled up the car and dropped over $50 to do so. As you can see from the photo I took at the time, the price for regular unleaded was just shy of $4 a gallon at the pump. Right now oil is above $110 a barrel. I remember when gas prices last spiked in the summer of 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama stated that he would have preferred a gradual adjustment to higher gas prices over the quick rise that happened. Here’s a clip of him talking about this in 2008, with some other news commentaries mixed in.

Did you catch the female reporter around 10 seconds in, stating that the Energy Department was forecasting $4/gallon gas prices for the rest of 2008 and into 2009? Do you remember paying that much? I don’t. I remember oil prices dropping like a stone about a month after this video was posted.

The graph on the top right was generated at metalprices.com showing the price of crude oil for the past five years. See that monster spike in the middle? That’s the same 2008 oil spike that drove up gas prices. Do you see how the price quickly dropped, ending up even lower than the previous low point on the chart? Just what could have caused that drop? Oil hit its highest price on July 14, 2008, the very same day that President Bush announced that he would, by executive order, lift the ban on offshore oil drilling. Beginning the very next day, oil prices began to drop and continued to do so for several months as the market reacted to the news of increased future oil supplies.

Now look at the graph on the bottom right, listing the crude oil prices since President Obama took office. Notice a trend? This is what the market looks like when the President reimposes a ban on offshore oil drilling less than a month after taking office, then places a moratorium on all oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The market reacted to the news of decreased future oil supplies by raising the price of crude oil.

Certainly there are other factors that also play into the rising oil prices, the biggest among them being the increased instability in the Middle East and the increasingly weak U.S. dollar in international markets. There’s no need to blame Pres. Obama for political instability in the Middle East (although others have done so), but I will lay the blame for a weakening dollar solidly at his feet. Pres. Obama and his fellow travelers on the political left have trashed the foundation of our currency with their prolific spending and inability to seriously handle the rising deficit.

As long as our dollar continues to weaken because of shortsighted policies made by liberals in government, and as long as Pres. Obama prevents us from accessing our own energy supplies, the price of crude oil and gas will continue to go up and up and up. In 2008, and in the previous years when gas prices soared, there were multiple news stories each day about rising gas prices and the people affected by them. But this year the same news stories have been few and far between. So what is the difference this time? Why the strange silence from the barking dogs of the news media?

It’s simple. The media is too busy wagging its collective tail at its master, Pres. Obama, to bark at him. And when you understand that, the silence is far from curious.

Here is a lovely gem of a press release from the Democrat Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

“The President knows, as his own Administration has stated, that the impact of any new drilling will be insignificant – promising savings of only pennies per gallon many years down the road. Americans know that thanks to the two oilmen in the White House, consumers are now paying $4 a gallon for gas. But what Americans should realize is that what the President is calling for is drilling as close as three miles off of America’s pristine beaches and in other protected areas.

“The President has failed in his economic policy, and now he wants to say, ‘but for drilling in protected areas offshore, our economy would be thriving and the price of gas would be lower.’ That hoax is unworthy of the serious debate we must have to relieve the pain of consumers at the pump and to promote energy independence.

“Today, the New Direction Congress will vote on legislation to bring down gas prices by taking crucial steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures market. The President himself could lower prices by drawing down a small portion of our government oil stockpile, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The New Direction Congress will continue to bring forth responsible proposals to increase supply, reduce prices, protect consumers, and transition America to a clean, renewable energy independent future.”

Let’s take a look at Her Speakership’s wisdom.

“[T]he impact of any new drilling will be insignificant – promising savings of only pennies per gallon many years down the road.” The impact of new drilling will be more oil. That can’t be insignificant, based on her later comments. Besides, I thought long-term planning was a good thing.

“[T]hanks to the two oilmen in the White House, consumers are now paying $4 a gallon for gas.” Nice dig there. “Bush and Cheney are oilmen! Evil! EVIL!” *cue the ominous roll of thunder* If they really had such a huge influence over the oil industry, don’t you think President Bush and Vice President Cheney would have pulled every string they had to get Evil Big Oil to reduce the consumer price of oil and gas?

“[W]hat the President is calling for is drilling as close as three miles off of America’s pristine beaches and in other protected areas.” I’ve been to some of those “pristine” beaches, and they ain’t all that pristine. Besides, would you rather pump oil from areas close to the U.S., or ship it via monstrously huge supertankers like the Exxon Valdez? A broken pipeline can be shut down much faster than a supertanker run aground can be fixed. But Speaker Pelosi really doesn’t care about protected areas like the Arctic National Mosquito Refuge in Alaska as much as she cares about catering to her “Drill Nothing Never” constituents.

“The President has failed in his economic policy, and now he wants to say, ‘but for drilling in protected areas offshore, our economy would be thriving and the price of gas would be lower.’” Democrats often complain that drilling will take 10 years or more before producing any oil. The unspoken ending to that phrase is, “so why bother drilling?” Well, if we had started drilling in ANWR back in 1998, we’d have ANWR oil bringing down gas prices right now. If everyone had the same short-sighted mindset, why would people bother to work on a college degree, which takes years before producing any work benefits? Why have children, when it will take decades before they become self-sufficient? But here’s what’s interesting: liberals are more than happy to hold off doing anything with proven oil technology that will take a known quantity of time to obtain–the “decade” they keep chanting about–but they are willing to wait indefinitely for some new, unproven energy alternative to sweep us off our feet and carry us into a glorious future. I like to daydream about swan-diving into Scrooge McDuck’s bank vault, too, but then I wake up and go to work. My daydream won’t pay today’s bills or put food on the table.

“the New Direction Congress” Oops, looks like the website got that wrong. She really meant to say “the No Drilling Congress.” There, that’s fixed.

“Today, the No Drilling Congress will vote on legislation to bring down gas prices by taking crucial steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures market.” Oil futures are already heavily regulated. There is no need to regulate the market further, but as always with liberals, capitalism makes a good scapegoat to beat while chanting the “Drill Nothing Never” mantra.

“The President himself could lower prices by drawing down a small portion of our government oil stockpile, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.” Here’s a clue for Madam Speaker: the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is for emergencies like making sure there is sufficient oil for the military and critical operations if a war or natural disaster were to disrupt supplies. By the way, did you notice the logical inconsistency here? Speaker Pelosi claims that a small draw-down of oil from the SPR would result in a drop in consumer oil prices, while at the same time maintaining that drilling for oil won’t do so. She can’t have it both ways. But she, and the rest of the Democrats in Congress, are doing whatever they can to keep the price of oil high, primarily by blocking any attempt to increase domestic oil supply, in the hopes that the people will begin to clamor for the magic pixie dust of unknown and unproven energy technology. A one-time pump of a few million barrels of oil from the SPR might temporarily lower the price of gas, but that doesn’t compare to having oil fields consistently pumping out millions of barrels of oil each and every day.

“The No Drilling Congress will continue to bring forth responsible proposals to increase supply…” Really? How about letting America drill for its own oil? Oh, right, the key word is “responsible” proposals, and that means only what she considers responsible. In other words, no oil men need apply, only those with daydream technology.

“… reduce prices …” You can reduce prices by increasing supplies, reducing demand, or doing both. Apparently the strategy of increasing supplies is off the table to Madam “Ain’t Drilling Here” Speaker.

“… protect consumers …” Protect consumers from what? Higher oil and gas prices? *snort* Liberals love being the Nanny State, telling the childish voters what they can and can’t do.

“… transition America to a clean, renewable energy independent future.” These are inspiring-sounding words and they probably felt great rolling off Speaker Pelosi’s tongue, but until that magic “renewable” energy moment happens, how about we drill like crazy to get all the energy we need from our current resources? We could be successful in reaching a “clean, energy independent future” if we had enough energy to power the technology that will presumably make renewable energy possible.

Speaker Pelosi wants the high price of oil to cut both ways. She denies that drilling for a consistent source of oil would bring down prices, but she calls for a one-time release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to, um, bring down prices. Of course, the real reason why Democrats are so adamant about not allowing Americans to use their own energy reserves is that they believe Americans will only act to find cleaner, more environmentally friendly energy when the high price of gas has them so mired down that they can’t function any more. When that happens, of course, they’ll look to the Democrats to save them from themselves–and the Democrats, as always, will act in their best interests. OK, my tongue’s out of my cheek now. I have to assume Speaker Pelosi doesn’t expect to see a major change in the oil futures market with a one-time pull of oil from the SPR, but she can point to the temporarily lowered price of gas and say to the voters, “Look, the Democrats made that happen.” Then she can use that leverage to push her own plan of championing “clean” and “responsible” energy ideas, as the price of oil is pushed steadily upward again.

I’d like to have Speaker Pelosi come water my front yard, and then see what she would do when I deliberately put a kink in the hose. I imagine she’d demand that I stop deliberately shutting off the water so she could finish the job. Then I’d lecture at her that water is a precious, limited resource, and even if I unkinked the hose it would take a good long while for the water to reach her. Instead we should work together to find some better, cleaner, more responsible way to get the job done. Think she’d buy it?

Occasionally my niece, who is 11, will ask me how she can get money to buy presents for people. I usually reply there are three basic ways to accumulate money: earn, sell, and save. Since she is a pre-teen, her resources in this area are pretty much limited to earning babysitting money, selling her old toys at a garage sale, and saving her allowance.

For our thought experiment, let’s focus on a 20-something with a goal of putting $2,000 into the bank as fast as she can. She also has the same three options: earn, sell, and save. Since she is in her 20s, she may have a degree that may help her find a well-paying job. To increase her earned income, she could take on a second job or do piecework on the side. Based on her age and ability, earning money will probably be the fastest way to reach her goal. On the other hand, if she doesn’t have marketable skills, a degree, or experience, she may be limited to taking lower-paying part-time jobs.

She also has the option to sell items she owns. Anything with value (or perceived value) can be put up for sale on an auction site such as eBay. There is no guarantee that her items will sell, but it’s probably easier to sell items than to work. And assuming that she’s selling good stuff and needing to sell it quickly, she may not get full value for her items, and she may choose to spend more money later to recover them. Other than auction sites, there are other venues–consignment stores, pawn shops and yard sales–where she could sell used clothes, books, DVDs, and CDs, but usually at a significantly lower price than what she paid for them.

The last of the three option is to save. This works best when there is a significant amount being spent, but every dollar saved is an extra dollar closer to the goal. Since our imaginary person has a definable and short-term goal, she can opt to cut her spending to the bone. It is cheaper to cook food at home than it is to dine out. Packing brown-bag leftovers is cheaper than buying lunch at work. Reading a book or checking out a movie from the library costs less than going to see that new movie in the theater. She could even go as far as adjusting her air conditioner or heater to a more energy-saving setting, but savings from utility bills could take a while to appear, so this strategy might be better suited to a long-term savings goal. But it’s still an option.

The options of earn, sell, and save pretty much cover the ways our hypothetical woman could reach her goal of putting $2,000 in the bank. Since she has a definite goal in mind, it would be both silly and inefficient if she decided to eliminate one or two of these options. If she were serious about reaching her goal as quickly as possible, why would she purposely postpone her goal by limiting her savings options? If she really wanted to reach the goal as fast as she could, she would take advantage of all the opportunities open to her to earn, sell, and save money.

Have you noticed that I always wrote it as “earn, sell, and save” rather than listing them as “earn, sell, or save”? I did that on purpose because I am including all the options that work toward this goal, rather than excluding options. That is what I mean by thinking inclusively rather than exclusively. When there are multiple ways to reach a goal, it behooves us to include them all rather than arbitrarily excluding some.

So how does this apply to the current energy crunch?

We need energy–indeed, we need massive amounts to sustain our current way of life. We could easily reduce the energy we consume if we were willing to revert to a 1908 lifestyle instead of a 2008 one. The Model T was first sold in 1908, but since cars are evil polluting beasts from hell–or so environmentalists tell us–we’d have to do without cars. We’d also have to do without bras and zippers, since both were invented in 1913. Oh, the horror! But frankly, I’d rather not live an Amish lifestyle. I like the convenience of central heating and air, and modern dentistry is a blessing. The mass production and modern farming techniques that clothe and feed the world’s billions require an unbelievable amount of energy to maintain, and to fuel our energy demand, we should think inclusively rather than exclusively.

I’ve been listening to the people who are screaming for a change in our energy usage, and I have noticed that they almost always think exclusively. They don’t want us to drill for oil or natural gas. They don’t want us to dig for coal. They don’t want us to build nuclear power plants. They don’t want us to build dams for hydroelectric power. They don’t even want us to build wind farms. The only thing left is solar energy, but the same BANANA[1] attitude that stops us from drilling in the desolate arctic wasteland known as ANWR will stop us from dedicating the many square miles of desolate southwest desert that we’d need to really get solar energy going.

I recently saw a commercial by T. Boone Pickens who said that our current energy state is “one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” His plan calls for using wind energy, natural gas, and biofuels to make the U.S. energy independent. But there is no mention on his page about the other options–solar, nuclear, and hydroelectric power. Why is Pickens being exclusive rather than inclusive when it comes to seeking out and utilizing energy sources? I hear people talk about solar and wind power as being avenues worth pursuing, but they nearly always exclude oil, and they shudder at the very thought of nuclear power. Why exclude some of these possible energy sources when we need all the energy we can get?

When I hear or read “We can’t drill our way out of this problem,” I have a strong reason to believe that person has identified certain energy sources as “good” or “bad”. I don’t see it that way; to me, they are all just energy sources. As I see it, every drop of oil we drill here in the U.S. is one drop we don’t have to import. Likewise, every drop of oil we don’t need to use because of natural gas, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, or wind power is also one drop we don’t have to import. It’s a win-win situation, so why not get all the energy we can from all the sources we can?

Let’s think inclusively about energy, rather than being exclusive. Let’s drill for oil and natural gas AND dig for coal AND build nuclear power plants AND build hydroelectric dams AND build wind farms AND build solar arrays AND conserve where it makes sense AND develop new energy sources AND invent more efficient uses of our energy. Now that’s a worthwhile goal I could get behind.

[1] BANANA — Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

Here is some good news from the White House as reported by Bloomberg.com:

President George W. Bush said today he’s lifting a presidential ban on drilling for oil and natural gas on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, setting up a showdown with Congress over a separate ban it put in place in the 1980s.

“Today I’ve taken every step within my power to allow offshore exploration of the OCS,” Bush said in a statement at the White House. “This means the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action by the U.S. Congress.”

Of course, for every action is an equal and opposite political reaction. In this case, Democrat leaders peeing in the good-news punch the President is serving:

Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress rejected the president’s call, saying the move to end the moratorium would have no effect on prices and better options are available.

“If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks. But most experts, even within the Bush administration, concede it would do neither,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement today.

Lifting of the executive ban on offshore drilling won’t have any short-term effect on gas prices as long as liberals continue to stand between America and America’s oil. And as far as thinking long-term is concerned, eventually the sun will burn out, too, but we shouldn’t let that paralyze us from making plans for the future.

I can tell you what would have an effect on oil prices: a two-pronged approach that targets both supply and demand. We need to increase supply by drilling for all the oil and natural gas we can find in the U.S. Every state or federal official who resists drilling for America’s oil is telling you, the American public, that high prices due to politically reduced supply is a good thing. We also need to decrease demand by inventing the technology to free us from the use of oil for fuel. An organized effort on the scale of the Manhattan Project or Apollo Program is what I’d like to see. Every state or federal official who resists promoting technology is telling you, the American public, that high prices due to increased demand is a good thing.

I find it interesting, the awkward position liberal Democrats have placed themselves in today. As the U.S. continues to suffer from the effects of high oil and gas prices, they stand to benefit politically this November. But if they work to help America by reducing the high price of oil and gas by freeing supply and innovating to decrease demand, the praise will go to the sitting President–a Republican. In effect, as America suffers, Democrats benefit. It’s no wonder that they are unwilling to drill for oil anywhere. They know that doing so would improve America’s economic situation, and that would not currently be a benefit to their party.

Rather than pulling together to help America, liberals are more anxious to benefit politically from our pain. So why should we elect people who are more interested in furthering their own political careers than in meeting America’s needs?

UPDATE (7/16/2008 7:53:28 PM): Oil prices have fallen for two days after President Bush’s announcement that he was lifting the executive order banning drilling on the U.S. continental shelf, but all of the articles I have read, like this one in The New York Times, have identified other reasons for the drop.

Concerns about a slowing economy and rising inflation pushed oil prices down sharply for a second day on Wednesday, an unusual dip in the oil price rally that began more than six years ago.

The two-day decline totaled more than $10.50 a barrel, but analysts cautioned that it was still unclear how far prices would fall and that the respite may be temporary.

There have been concerns for a while now, so why the drop yesterday and today? The only specific thing I could point to is President Bush’s executive order. But once the investors realize that the liberals in Congress and the leaders in the states will continue their own drilling ban, the futures price of oil will head back up. Once they realize that the U.S. won’t drill to increase supply, then you will see oil prices head back up, regardless of the state of the U.S. economy and inflation.

It’s not all that surprising to see dumb people come up with some really boneheaded comments. But when I see people with an IQ I’d need an abacus to calculate come up with a truly jaw-dropping gem of stupidity, I’m stunned into speechlessness.

Well, not completely.

Enter Alan Greenspan, former chairman for almost 20 years of the U.S. Federal Reserve and BDS sufferer. In his new book, he opined that President Bush invaded Iraq because of oil. The UK Times sums it up.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle East.

Britain and America have always insisted the war had nothing to do with oil. Bush said the aim was to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and end Saddams support for terrorism.

So Greenspan says we went into Iraq to get the oil. That would explain why we are swimming in all that oil we are pulling out of there.

Uh, really?

Dumb comment, Alan. Really dumb. If it were all about oil, how come Kuwait isn’t the 51st state? After kicking the Iraqis out in 1991, we essentially owned Kuwait. Had we chosen to make it ours in fact, no nation could have stopped us. And after having won Kuwait, we gave it back to the Kuwaitis. A decade later, we raced into Iraq and toppled Saddam’s regime. But the dust had barely settled when we were talking to the Iraqis about elections and their taking control back again. And while we are interested in getting the Iraqi oil fields up and running at capacity, we are buying the oil, not taking it.

So how again was the war largely about oil, Alan?

The sad part about Alan Greenspan’s comment is how they will add fuel to the fire of the 9/11 truthers who happily applaud any boneheaded belief stated by the dumb, the genius, and anyone in between.

UPDATE (9/17/2007 8:27:07 AM):I wrote this post last night and scheduled it to be posted this morning. And now I wake up to see that Alan Greenspan is spinning his comments, as reported in the LA Times:

Greenspan clarified his remarks in an interview with the Washington Post, telling the newspaper that although securing global oil supplies was “not the administration’s motive,” he had presented the White House with a case for why removing Hussein was important for the global economy.

“I was not saying that that’s the administration’s motive,” Greenspan said. “I’m just saying that if somebody asked me, ‘Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?,’ I would say it was essential.”

He said that in his discussions with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, “I have never heard them basically say, ‘We’ve got to protect the oil supplies of the world,’ but that would have been my motive.”

So, when he said “everyone knows” that we went into Iraq because of oil, he was attributing to “everyone” what he believed. That’s not a smart thing to do.

If that’s what he really believed, then why didn’t he make it clear in his book. That was his venue to make sure his story were properly presented to the world, and he muffed it. Again, that’s not a smart thing to do.

As I see it, he either did a poor job on his book, or his “clarification” is fancy backpedaling. Neither option reflects well on Alan Greenspan.

I filled up the car again this week. As much as I would like to avoid the gas bill, driving to work is better than the alternatives of walking, biking, or riding the bus, so I will continue to pony up the bucks at the pump.

But the cost of gas has been a political tool for John F@#$%ing Kerry’s campaign. He has been hammering President Bush over the cost of gas pretty relentlessly. “George Bush has no plan, doesn’t address it, doesn’t seem to care that every American family is paying more to go to work, for the products that they get, to be able to get to school, to be able to do all the things Americans do in the course of a summer.” Yawn. OK, let’s do the math. My car holds 11 gallons of gas, and I fill it up about twice a month. Let’s round up the increase and call it an extra 50 cents per gallon. That means I would be paying 11 gallons times 50 cents times two fill-ups per month for a monthly increase of $11. This is less than the cost of two movie tickets, and much less than the price of dinner at a sit-down restaurant. Even with my current meager wages, I can’t weep too much over these prices.

However, the increased cost of gas does indirectly raise prices for me, since every good that needs to be moved from one site to another will see a cost increase thanks to gas prices. This can have a serious ripple effect on prices in the U.S., and nobody really wants to see inflation kick in.

But the rising price of gas is too juicy an issue to leave alone. Some Democrats have criticized President Bush for continuing to fill up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while oil prices are higher than they have been in decades. Kerry has suggested that the Bush administration stop filling the SPR so the oil that would be going into it could be used to help reduce the cost of consumer gas. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle went even further. “We’re at 96 percent of capacity at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve today,” he said. “If we can’t draw it down at 96 percent, when can we?” Daschle conveniently ignores the purpose of the SPR. It is not designed to stabilize the U.S. oil/gas market, but it is for the use of the U.S. military in times of crisis.

It is interesting that Kerry, Daschle and others have been calling for the release of oil from the SPR as a way of adjusting the price of gas, but these same people screamed about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. If it would make a difference to release about 115,000 barrels of oil per day from the SPR, why was it that ANWR’s expected 400,000 to 1,400,000 barrels of oil per day (pick your study) supposedly would not have amounted to a “blip” in the price of oil and gas if developed? You can’t have it both ways, can you?

Well, you can if you are a liberal Democrat, and the press is on your side.

With the release of the doom-and-gloom propaganda film The Day After Tomorrow, which tells us human beings are despoiling the earth with their SUVs, you’d think some people would be cheering about rising gas prices. And you’d be right. Here’s a bit of what Gregg Esterbrook wrote in the New York Times on May 25th:

The federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, while state gasoline taxes average 24.6 cents per gallon. Had federal gas taxes gone up 50 cents a gallon 10 years ago, several things might not have happened or would have had far less impact.

The SUV and pickup-truck crazes would not have occurred, or at least these vehicles would be much less popular; highway deaths would have been fewer; and gasoline demands would be lower, as would oil imports.

To continue, the world price of oil would have been lower, since petroleum demand in the United States is the first factor in oil markets; greenhouse-gas emissions in this country would be lower; Persian Gulf oil states would have less influence on the global economy and less significance to American foreign policy; fewer dollars would have flowed to the oil sheiks; and the trade deficit balance for the United States would be smaller.

Before you nod in complete agreement with Gregg, remember that he is reflecting the thinking of the people who predicted global cooling on the first Earth Day, then switched their tune to global warming a few years later, and now are back to global cooling in The Day After Tomorrow caused by [insert ominous music here] global warming. Just once I wish they would stick with one prediction.

While I don’t plan on seeing The Day After Tomorrow any time soon, I have to admit it looks like it has some spectacular effects. One of the most riveting is the flooding and subsequent flash-freezing of New York. But let’s play a wee bit with the science of New York freezing like that. Let’s imagine a cube of water 100 meters on a side, ready to freeze at 32 degrees. How much energy needs to be pulled out of this block of water to freeze it? About 33.5 billion joules of energy. That’s a little less than exploding a ton of TNT, or the same as running a 60-watt bulb for about 20 years. And that’s just for a single block of water 100 cubic meters in size. Since I’ve not seen the movie, I cannot tell how widespread the freezing is or how much water is affected, but I can easily guess that it is many times the cube of water used in my little math problem. To freeze this much water, the energy equivalent of about a ton of TNT must be evacuated per each 100 cubic meters of water. Just where would this much energy go? To put it another way, the energy released from this block of water to freeze it is enough to raise the temperature of 70 similar-sized blocks of air from absolute zero (as cold as anything can possibly get) to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling). The website for The Day After Tomorrow claims the possibility of a global Ice Age is “more truth than hype.” Yeah, right.

So what is really fueling the rise of gas prices in the U.S.? Environmentalists. We don’t have a oil supply problem as much as we have a gas refining problem. You can’t fill your car’s tank with crude oil; it needs to be refined. But while the U.S. has grown in the last three decades, not a single new oil refinery was built during this time. What’s more, thanks to the increasing burden imposed on refineries by environmentalists, the number of refineries in the U.S. has shrunk steadily. We need to do more with fewer refineries, and if something were to happen with even a few of these refineries, we’d really be in trouble. Since we can’t refine as much gas as we need, the bottleneck is creating an artificial shortage, and the shortage is driving up prices.

Another culprit in the high cost of gas is differences in gas formulations. Thanks to environmental requirements, Utah County has a different gas formulation from Salt Lake County, just 25 miles away. These different gas formulations cannot be shipped to another area. So if Utah County were to run out of gas, we couldn’t get some of Salt Lake’s excess shipped here. Imagine if you ran out of sugar in the local grocery store, but rather than calling the warehouse for another sugar shipment, you had to wait for the sugar refinery to make a new batch just for you. How stupid is that? But this is the situation we find ourselves in, thanks to wacko environmentalists who have forced the closure of refineries, prevented the creation of newer and more efficient refineries, and mandated the special formulation blends of gas for various areas.

President Bush could reduce this artificial shortage immediately by telling the EPA that all their regulations for separate gas formulations are null and void.