Speaking of full of stupid, consider the call for off-shore drilling as a way to lower gas prices. There are a couple of ways this is dumb. First, its not like there's a switch ready to be thrown and the gas starts flowing. Those off-shore sites need to be developed which means someone needs to build a rig, start drilling, etc. It will take years for that oil to reach the market. Second, our current U.S. oil producing fields are continuing to decline. By the time those off-shore sites come online, they won't even make up the lost production between then and now. Finally, the total amount available is just a blip on the world production and world production is what sets the price. You need to discover a Saudi Arabia-size oil reserve to lower prices and there aren't any of those left.
In his column last week, Paul Krugman made this observation about off-shore drilling boosterism from John McCain and the lies around it:
Mr. McCain’s claim that opponents of offshore drilling are responsible for high gas prices is ridiculous — and to their credit, major news organizations have pointed this out. Yet Mr. McCain’s gambit seems nonetheless to be working: public support for ending restrictions on drilling has risen sharply, with roughly half of voters saying that increased offshore drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.I offer this anecdote to corroborate Krugman's observation: a co-worker of mine who has a somewhat conservative family told me some of them believe the recent fall in gas prices is because Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on offshore-drilling. Sigh. That EO just reversed a previous EO and did nothing. Congress has to authorize the drilling for it to happen. Gas prices have declined because demand has declined. It turns out Americans will indeed drive less if gas gets too high.
Hence my concern: if a completely bogus claim that environmental protection is raising energy prices can get this much political traction, what are the chances of getting serious action against global warming? After all, a cap-and-trade system would in effect be a tax on carbon (though Mr. McCain apparently doesn’t know that), and really would raise energy prices.
What I take away from this is in addition to trying to educate the public about the climate system, we also need to educate them about where all their energy currently comes from. High prices may help with that. Soon everyone will understand the difference between "light, sweet" and "heavy" crude oil.