Tag: Riothill’s Blog

Joining the dots?

A guest post from Perfect Stranger.


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of publishing a guest post from Patrice Ayme about the important subject of Energy Question For The USA

One of the comments on that Post was from Per Kurowski, a former Executive Director of the World Bank.  He reported about a letter he wrote that was published in the Financial Times back in April, 2005.  That letter set out the case for,

A sensible country would raise tax on petrol, so what is US waiting for?

Sir, it is hard to understand the United States of America! It has a huge fiscal deficit; it has a huge current-account deficit; it is by far the world’s biggest oil consumers both in absolute and in relative terms; now willing to explore for oil and gas in Alaska, it shows itself to be aware of the difficult energy outlook the world faces; it seems aware and resolute about the environmental problems (ignore the Alaska part) as it imposes other expensive environmental regulations, such as recycling—which, as no one likes to do it, requires the hiring of Salvadoreans; it speaks all over the place about having to reduce the vulnerabilities of its oil supplies.

As any other sensible country would, in similar circumstances, increase the taxes on petrol consumption and substantially help to solve all the above-mentioned problems; and as the US has always shown willingness to pull together as a nation, recently even to the extent of going to war on shaky grounds, the big question remains: why is it that the leaders of the US do not even want to talk about a substantial tax on petrol?

The letter struck me as eminently sensible.  Then a while later Perfect Stranger emailed an equally valid alternative approach and that now follows as a guest post.


Many years ago while working for Lehman Bros I did a spreadsheet relating to oil profits based on government taxes, I can assure you that having the USA government (or any other government) raise taxes on oil will do the complete opposite to what everyone expects it will do.

Any taxes raised will only end up in the federal coffers, they will not harm the oil companies because they will simply marginally raise the price of fuel meaning they will still receive the same profits while the government gets even more. The consumers will hurt in the pocket and nothing else will happen.

If for some reason the government found a way to stop the oil companies from any marginal increases then the oil companies would simply raise their fuel transportation costs and lump the entire loss on the Petrol Station operators meaning the operators would lose out, the oil companies would still receive the same profit and the government would still end up with more money in their coffers.

But oil consumption would remain the same, in other words .. raising taxes (or lowering them ) will do no good whatsoever

So the answer to using less fossil fuels, as I keep on saying, is not up to any government nor is it up to the oil companies nor is it up to science, the blame lies entirely on the people who choose to drive to the shops to buy their bread and milk instead of walking whatever short distance that might require.

This is something I have found throughout the entire global warming movement, everybody tends to expect that it is up to governments and science to find solutions when in reality it is we who cause the problems and it is we who should be fixing them … THE GOVERNMENTS CANNOT HELP THOSE WHO WILL NOT HELP THEMSELVES, as long as we keep demanding the same lifestyle they have no choice but to provide us with it.

It is the same with coal, gas and oil in power plants, they only get burnt because we as consumers draw the power from the grid, in other words, we demand it, and if the companies don’t provide enough we get all sorts of blackouts,then we whinge, the companies get fined, directors get jailed for failing in their duty to the public and still .. more coal, gas and oil gets delivered to the power plants.

Spending less Energy and Wasting less Heat is actually the “only” solution that will work, anything else, any other form of debate or discussion on the issue is just another way of extending a debate that should have been over decades ago .. because that is the only possible solution, there really is no other solution, none whatsoever, there are no other answers.

The truth of the matter is that nobody wants to do anything about it except to continue the debate all the while expecting others to resolve the issue while they sit on their butts and talk about how things are going ever so slowly and that it must all be the fault of somebody else.

The oil companies cannot stop producing fuel nor should they be stopped as this would destroy our entire civilization, I am amazed at the ignorance in even discussing such an issue, it’s as if people imagine that by stopping oil and other fossil fuels over, say the next 10 years, that somehow some magical system would suddenly develop to replace them.

Do you realize that it took over a hundred years to build our existing fossil fuel based society and that currently only 3% of that has been replaced by alternative energy sources and that it has taken 3 decades for that to occur, all over the world?

There is no miracle technology that can be implemented fast enough to save us, there never has been, EVER, even nuclear power cannot be produced fast enough for our needs, we have to save ourselves.

So use some common sense and realize that the only possible solution to the global warming issue is for all of us to get into conserving energy and wasting less heat and above all … educating others into doing the same thing.

You leave it too long and we are all going to die ,,,,,, and it’s a guarantee we shall blame some else for it 😦

Footnote: This is a warning given to us by one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, comparable only to both Issac Newton and Albert Einstein.

Lord Kelvin

Within a finite period of time past, the Earth must have been, and within a finite period of time to come the Earth must again be, unfit for the habitation of man as at present constituted, unless operations have been, or are to be performed, which are IMPOSSIBLE under the laws to which the known operations going on at present in the material world are subject.” – Lord William Kelvin.

As they say, the solutions to the problems of the future may always be found in the lessons of the past.  As we can see by Lord Kelvin’s warning, this problem has never had a technical solution and we have little time to learn that one lesson.


As much as I respect Per’s opinion, indeed I wrote yesterday, “The points you make seem complete common sense.” the argument put forward by Perfect Stranger really does ‘join the dots’ for me and, I suspect, for many others.  Indeed, as Wen Scott commented on last Tuesday’s Post,

For my own personal experience, my husband and I have concluded that the only way we can make a contribution is to make our own grass-roots changes. We are solar, heat with wood (carbon neutral), composting toilets and kitchen scraps, and lately are choosing as much local food, goods and services as possible. The Transitions movements are a great example and well worth emulating for all of us.

I think it’s pretty clear that waiting around for governments and big business to solve environmental problems is dangerous to our health and well-being — it’s important to hear voices directly from our scientists, but I think we are very foolish (insane) to refuse to take action now. What are people waiting for, and at this date, does it really make much difference who or what is causing such environmental and climate devastation?

What’s the saying…. walk softly and leave nothing behind but your footprints. Even that may be too little, too late, but let’s hope not.

And it is thanks to Wen’s blogsite that I was linked to the following video,

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.

The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.

HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

HOME official website

PPR is proud to support HOME

HOME is a carbon offset movie

More information about the Planet