BP and the mirror on the wall.

This is very, very uncomfortable.

Reflecting the truth?

Trying to say anything new about the implications of the terrible disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would be impossible.

All I can do is to admit my very great discomfort at knowing that later today, I shall be returning to Phoenix by flying across the Atlantic in a Boeing 747.

A small amount of web research suggests that there are about 600 transatlantic flights a day and that my B747 will use roughly 10 tons of fuel an hour, i.e. conservatively 100 tons for the flight LHR-PHX.

So 600 x 100 = 60,000 tons of fuel every day just in flights across the Atlantic!

So pointing the finger at BP is, in a very real sense, misdirected.  BP are only responding to our need for oil, in all its forms.

Do watch the videos from Prof Al Bartlett being shown on this Blog from tomorrow to understand the mathematics behind our unsustainable way of life.

By Paul Handover

16 thoughts on “BP and the mirror on the wall.

  1. Good math, Paul! I have had to travel a lot, for family reasons. However, I nearly never took a trip for pure tourist reasons. I just know of only one time, and it was not transatlantic. I have always been disgusted for people who burn fuel just because they can. I do not even think that this sort of touring around makes people more intelligent, I feel it has the opposite effect: touring around is the opposite of living deep.

    So what to do? First TAX aircraft fuel in a way commensurate with the taxation on other fuels. Of course, as usual, the Americans are the prime perpetrators, because they do not tax fuel enough, anyway. In their small libertarian way, they equate burning fuel and freedom, just like the chicken in the courtyard equate happiness and lots of grain. Well, let those chickens take a bath in the Gulf…

    More generally, there is a worldwide CO2 crisis, and the way out is to crank up taxes on fuel as high as the economy will tolerate. And then, after it learn to tolerate the augmentation, tax some more.

    Unfortunately, present Americans are little natures, and could not tolerate the taxation levels under Eisenhower, when the USA made sense. Or let me rephrase this: poor mental achievement is the rule of the leadership, ever since that uneducated second rate actor from California became president, following the other crook from California and the unelected one (no I am not thinking of Bush II, who was also unelected). The USA has a democracy deficit, and it pollutes all.


    1. I understand perfectly well the tax on oil and I expect it will come to the US in due time. That said let us not forget that currently the European taxman gets about twice per gallon of gas in taxes than what the country who gives up that resource for ever gets… so that is not really right either… talk about an oil-curse!

      If consumption taxes on oil were to be used for global environmental purposes then it could be a bit more acceptable, but they are not, and some of the countries that apply those huge taxes are at the same time subsidizing coal.

      And so let me turn around the whole concept and launch the idea that it is in fact Europe which is mostly responsible for the Gulf spill, because they should have used the taxes they collect on gas (petrol) to make the drilling in the Gulf safer, instead of using them on so much other non related issues.


      1. Per:
        With all due respect…Europe knows how to make deep sea drilling safe. The Gulf of Mexico spill was caused by USA deregulation. Off Angola Brazil, in the North Sea, Timor: no problem. The accident was entirely caused by BP going mad: they piled up gross violations, until explosion. Real question: why did BP become mad?

        Anyway, thanks for accusing Europe. In a sense, if the USA is so bad, got to be because it’s a EUROPEAN colony. That’s really right.

        And why is it that giving more money to sexist desert thugs moral? Oh yes, they fund Al Qaeda and the Taliban, too, among other worthies… Not really right, really?


  2. Minutes ago on a blog about “Black Swans” I posted the following that connects to what you say here:

    I am not sure we benefit from focusing at the oil spill in the gulf as an independent catastrophe as it could perhaps be better to analyze it just as a subset of the major environmental and energy problems the world faces.

    Allow me to reconnect to the financial crisis.

    Banks, according to current regulations, when lending to BP were required, because of BP’s credit ratings, to hold only a meager 1.6 percent in capital, as BP presented no major risk of default.

    The banks when lending instead to a small business or entrepreneur are required to have 8 percent in capital

    Because of the above the BP’s of the world are much favored by the regulators when compared to the small fish on whom we might depend so much for our future.

    And therefore I hold that when so many different risks abound that the financial regulators should not have the right to discriminate based solely on the risk that it is most intimately concerned with, namely the risk of default.

    The way I see, it if we do not see many bank failures this is evidence the world is not risking enough.

    The way I know it, because regulators tried too hard to avoid their personal nightmares, they set up the world to pursue “risk-free” opportunities, and thereby created the stampede after the AAAs, which now has immersed us in a major structural crisis… and waiting for the next explosion because, those same regulators, also held that the banks could lend with minimum or no capital at all to those sovereigns deemed as risk-free by the outsourced risk commissars, the credit rating agencies.


    1. Extremely astute observation, Per!
      The fellow soul is crossing the desert!
      I have been saying this all along, and Sarkozy’s government, in theory took measures to turn a bit around that effect.

      Treating TBTF as BP as if they were our overlords: that is one more reason why we need national banks. Those will target not their own financial profit, but overall profit for the entire society (this already exist informally and more indirectly with government spending, but it is not targeted towards industry, research and development as much as it should).


    2. Per:
      Sorry, I was unaware that when you spoke about money going to countries they came from, you meant in an ideal world, where said countries are not feudal regimes…
      As it is, taxing fossil fuel big time is the only braking system we have as we head towards Armageddon… So I did not view your snide relmark against the “taxman” as very constructive. The oil regimes have zero tax on oil, as you know.

      The USA needs to tax tax tax fossil fuels, and this right away. Instead all we hear is the sing song of the profit challenged mental retards… Let them profit in the Gulf! They can go to the Gulf, and bathe in gooiest deregulation… Libertarianism at its best: free, free at last, to bathe in oil, Beyond Pain… Lucky they are…


      1. Not only do they have zero tax regime (Norway excepted of course)…in my country that military demagogue chavez sell the gas (petrol) for less than US$ cents per liter less than 8 cents per gallon and with that he takes away from the poorest of the poor about 10 percent of GDP and gives it to those who drive cars…

        And no I perfectly understand, and agree with taxes on oil but, given that what you are taxing is the natural resources that were are giving up forever, I feel that those tax revenues should at least go to something that benefits the world or the environment at large, and not be kept for your own particular needs. Do you think this is such an outrageous demand?

        And by the way in case you doubt my credentials, please read the following two letters on the subject that was published by FT



  3. “Unfortunately, present Americans are little natures, and could not tolerate the taxation levels under Eisenhower, when the USA made sense.”

    America is a vast country. People for historical reasons depend on the automobile in a way that Europeans don’t.

    You seem to be asking for Yanks to accept a very big increase in fuel taxation. Fine. But would Europeans also accept the same in relative terms?

    And the cultural change away from cars that you seem to be demanding cannot be achieved overnight.

    In truth, we are ALL addicted to “cheap” energy. I see no great emphasis on the reduction of car use in Europe. On the contrary, everyone seems pleased when car sales go up as this is “good for the economy”.

    Same with oil. On the one hand, burning fossil fuels is officially “bad”. But if France discovered vast reserves off the coast of Brittany do you suppose for one instant they would say: “No, we won’t exploit these reserves as it would be bad for the planet.”

    I credit you with more intelligence and realism!!


      1. Much more than twice, I think, Per. Rather like thrice or more. European oil, imported from closer, is cheaper than USA oil. The tax on gasoline, from Ike, used to be relatively considerable. Punishment on car makers starts at 165 grams CO2 in EU, soon to be 125. Average US fleet is 330 grams CO2. France has the world’s most efficient car fleet. In no small measure from getting rid of old cars. Good for economy…

        If France discovered giant reserves, it would gigantically tax. Total SA pays an enormous voluntary tax. OK, officially voluntary (that is for Chris).


  4. the stampede after the AAAs

    As I see it Per, the Credit Rating Agencies were completely worthless. Worse than that, they were NEGATIVELY destructive, giving triple AAA ratings to institutions already tottering on the verge of bankruptcy.

    I can’t understand whey they haven’t been majorly restructured and made totally independent of the institutions they are rating. To be frank, if they disappeared from the planet would it be any great loss whatsoever?


    1. No the credit rating companies are alright. Everyone should be free to give their opinion. What is wrong is that the regulators force us to heed these opinions too much.


      1. Rating agencies are paid by who they rate. Is that all right? Maybe we should rate students that way? Because some have beaucoup bucks, they could be rated as Medical Doctors?


  5. Good point, but the problem is – hence this site! – that we just don’t know who to believe any more. It seems that almost everyone has their own angle or hidden agenda.

    I believe YOU, of course! Why aren’t you President?


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