There are two schools of thought on how civilization will destroy itself. Al Gore's polar bears have gotten most of the pub, but coming up fast is Peak Oil, which says petroleum production is only going downhill with disastrous repercussions. We thought it might be fun to run the two doomsday scenarioshead to head, based on a mostly random reading of current events. What can we say? We like competition.
THE STARTING LINE: FEBRUARY, 2008
Last year at this time, Global Warming looked unbeatable, like the Patriots in October. An Inconvenient Truth was weeks away from an Oscar, the early ski season had been wiped out by 60-degree temps and a golf-course-killing drought was asserting itself in the South.
By the end of 2007, though, Peak Oil was on a roll like, you guessed it, the Giants. Thanks to a cold(ish) December and issues involving the crude supply chain that we don't really understand, not only did oil prices touch $100 a barrel (up from $25 in 2003!), Bode Miller had great conditions to dominate the World Cup! Topping it off, American oil despot Jerry Jones got the Cowboys back atop the NFC East while Russian oil despot Vladimir Putin won an Olympic Games for the Bears and was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
That said, you can¹t count either of these great calamities out of it, at least until we're all out of it. So to start things off, we will call it even.
THIS WEEK: RACIN'!
Peak Oil fans love NASCAR for the hundreds of vehicles downing tons of fuel with no thought to mpg (we're not even counting the RVs in the infield), yet the amount of petroleum the Sprint Cup consumes each weekend only equals what the USA uses every 2 seconds!
Global Warming supporters love the racing series for the same reason. Even with the circuit's semis and motorcoaches rolling from the Space Coast to the West Coast this week, NASCAR's CO2 emissions don't amount to a toenail clipping on America's carbon footprint!
Once again, it looks like a draw.
But wait. Last week organizers cancelled this year's Dakar Rally because of terrorist threats from groups linked to al Qaeda, whose anti-racin' philosophy has been funded in part by big-money Saudi backers, some of whom made their cash off oil sales to race teams and their fans. Think the radical sheiks get hurt by cutting out a customer now that Dakar is kaput? Think again. It's win-win for the oil barons, because their fave terror gang gets the press, the race will go on next year (albeit in South America), fuel will burn off and they still get their money! And what money it is. The market drove the price of crude over $100 a barrel again this week, which was its first-ever close above the century mark!
Which all points to a huge win for Peak Oil.
WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU, THE FAN
With their Hendrick team shut out at Daytona you can bank on Golden Staters Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to burn through that C-note oil fast and furious on California Speedway this Sunday. Down the road, though, how cool would it be if soaring prices force the series to ration gas during races?
Talk about wide open!