Welcome to the Toeg Effect. This is your host, Toeg. Today we discuss the history of what many call, “Black Gold.” Today, we look at
OIL AND HOW IT BECAME SO IMPORTANT
Clearly, before the advent of the automobile and the development of plastics, oil was only one of a large number of natural resources. Water and air have always been of the most important for without either one, our civilization will surely perish. Land is also a very important natural resource. We only need to look to areas like the Netherlands to see how the human species relies on land to survive. Forests provide the necessary wood, fish and wildlife provide the necessary alimentation, and topsoil provides the necessary sustenance. Minerals give us our pleasure, and there is none more important than oil.
Before the modern era, oil was relegated to the back burner of mineral consumption on the international arena. Most assuredly gold and silver were at the forefront of importance throughout the world before the 20th Century. Gems were considered so important that nations fought over them, and there are two major eras in the history of mankind, neither of which mention oil. The Bronze Age spoke of bringing man out of a mere sustenance state, and the Iron Age brought man into the modern era. Even until the mid-1950s, coal was still the world’s foremost fuel, but oil quickly took over.
But no one speaks of an Oil Age. Yet that is precisely what we are living today. We live in the Oil age, which gives us a higher degree of prosperity than has ever before been achieved. Our houses, our schools, universities, hospitals and transportation systems allow most of us to live better than any king in previous ages. Most of these achievements are due to the use of machines that consume oil. Present day agriculture uses oil to power tractors, enabling less than 2% of the population to be employed in farming, and frees the rest of us to take up other (often previously unheard of) occupations.
Oil allows us to travel both locally and across the world in a manner and in numbers impossible for previous generations. It brings the world’s produce to our doorstep and in addition it heats us in winter and is the raw material for many plastics, medicines, pesticides, paint and clothing. Since the advent of plastics research, as well as the augmentation of automobile use, the need for oil has increased on a steady trend. Today, about 90% of vehicular fuel needs are met by oil. Petroleum also makes up 40% of total energy consumption in the United States.
All these products are made from oil: Fertilizers (farms/food supply), medicines, plastics, insulation, computers, asphalt, inks & toners, paints, glues, solvents, antiseptics, golf balls, CDs trash bags, nail polish, detergents, chewing gum, etc. He who controls the oil, controls all those commodities. It is unprecedented in the history of the world that such control over all aspects of society around the globe could be controlled by the intervention of only one vital resource. It is obvious that the country that can dominate worldwide oil production, can dominate worldwide prosperity. And there is only one country that has the clout necessary to achieve this goal.
Without exception, the current US admin has been on a direct mission to control this vital resource. It has opened more Alaskan wilderness to drilling. It has invaded Iraq, the second largest oil producer in the world. It has threatened Iran, the third largest. It has tried, and failed, to overthrow Hugo Chavez, the fourth largest. It is also locked arm in arm with the leading oil producer in the world, Saudi Arabia. For the first time in history, the president of the United States is from oil, and the vice-president is from oil.
In 1999, the price of crude oil was less than $10.00 per barrel. But by the year 2002, and after the effects of 9/11, the same price for a barrel of oil rose to over $22.00.
But wait, there’s more. Even though the price of oil rose by over 140% in only three years, it had only started to rise. The following year, 2003, oil had risen to over $27.00 per barrel. By 2005, the price had again doubled to over $55.00 per barrel. Now, it stands at around $70.00 per barrel, and has only recently gone down due to the upcoming American elections.
Let’s look at the world a mere 100 years ago.
Cars were barely in use. Public transportation was the norm of the day, and most of this was done via the train or horse-pulled trolleys. Automobiles were the toys of the rich, not the prerogative of the middle class. People used rope, leather, iron and bronze tools to perform daily tasks. Polymers were reduced to the natural oil seeds of plants, especially the rubber tree. Tires and similar products could be made, but the impact on regular society was minimal. As far as modern life was concerned, the change was barely noticeable. Street lamps were still using kerosene, but whale oil was the major oil supply for most of humanity. The need was so great at the time that whales almost went extinct as a result.
Enter DuPont. In the 1930s, they produced Nylon from oil. Nylon was first used for fishing line, surgical sutures, and toothbrush bristles. DuPont touted its new fiber as being « as strong as steel, as fine as a spider’s web, » and first announced and demonstrated nylon and nylon stockings to the American public at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. To be exact, on October 27, 1938, Charles Stine, vice president of E. I. du Pont de Nemours, Inc., announced that nylon had been invented. According to The Nylon Drama by authors David A. Hounshell and John Kenly Smith, Jr., « He unveiled the world’s first synthetic fiber not to a scientific society but to three thousand women’s club members gathered at the site of the 1939 New York World’s Fair for the New York Herald Tribune’s Eighth Annual Forum on Current Problems. Mr. Stine knew full well who were the ultimate consumers of his new find, and he knew how to reach them.
Today, nearly every product we purchase is impacted in someway by oil. Oil makes the computers, the adhesives, the furniture, the amenities, and the lifestyles we all enjoy. Oil is responsible for this age of pleasure more so than any other natural resource outside of water and air. Indeed, the world struggles to control the oil pouring forth, and the struggle is mighty indeed. Only the strongest will survive, and many will perish in this new lucha libre for continued existence. The US is clearly playing its ace card in this attempt. Unfortunately, it is also losing the battle. The