Readers weigh in on peak oil production, Ari Fleischer's book and MoveOn's non-response to the bankruptcy bill.

By Salon Staff
Published March 17, 2005 10:34PM (EST)

[Read "Running on Empty," by Robert Bryce.]

I am surprised that this article focused on the price of oil for vehicles but did not mention the effects on petrochemical-dependent manufacturing. What will the impact be on agriculture and factory work? On transcontinental transportation?

Shift happens. But until people realize that peak oil is an issue far more serious than the price of gas at the pump, I fear the shift happening is a downward spiral from which we will never recover.

-- Mary Wible-Brennan

I have a sad bit of evidence that the oil industry believes that we are at or near peak oil production.

Just this week, the huge Canadian oilsands company Suncor announced a Cdn$9.9 billion investment in new oil sand production around Fort McMurray, Alberta. As your article notes, extracting Canada's oil reserves from the tar sands will be very expensive. The only explanation for Suncor's huge investment is that it believes that the price of oil is only going to get higher. (Some might try to explain Suncor's decision by pointing to political turmoil in oil-producing countries. But the oil industry has already factored in the so-called political risk factors around the Middle East and Yukos, and Venezuela seems to have calmed down. There are not likely to be any large instability-related supply shocks in the foreseeable future.)

The increase in the price of oil can only come from world demand outstripping supply. This is starting to happen now, and the oil companies know all about it.

-- Matthew Deline

I enjoyed and was appropriately disturbed by Robert Bryce's article. I have read articles over the past several years that convey a similar message: that we are running out of oil, harming our environment, at risk of economic blackmail by the Middle East. What I am left with after each article is a "What can I do about it?" feeling. These articles seldom answer my question.

I do have some options: I can sell my SUV and horse trailer, downsizing equipment and increasing my fuel economy. There are some limitations to the environmentally friendly decisions I can make -- I can't afford a hybrid vehicle, as I am on a fixed low income, and though I partially heat my home with a pellet stove, I live in a rental unit, so there is not much I can do about insulation and other energy-efficiency building upgrades. But these are steps that many of your readers might be able to take, and they might be interested in learning more about these options. I would also be interested in finding out which companies are the leaders in solar and wind power, and the rest of your readers might be, too.

My suggestion is this: Every time you run an article like this one, include a sidebar list of positive action items and links to go to read more about solutions or the best practices in the industry.

-- Chris Farrington

[Read "Ari Fleischer: Still Saying Nothing After All These Years," by Eric Boehlert.]

Eric Boehlert takes Ari Fleischer to task for misconceived statements about the press, among them a supposedly overstated remark about CBS News' reliance on "forged" documents regarding Bush's National Guard service. Mr. Boehlert counters by observing that an independent panel appointed by CBS to investigate the incident came to no conclusion about the documents' authenticity. While this is technically true, it is notable that Peter Tytell, the only typography expert the panel consulted, concluded that they were produced by a computer. In fact, no one has been able to suggest a plausible means for these documents to have been produced on equipment available at the time the documents were allegedly produced (even the infamous IBM Selectric Composer, an expensive, professional typesetting machine, is not capable of reproducing all of the features seen in these documents).

One can only conclude that the panel's inability to drive the final nail into the documents' coffin is either a monumentally pedantic hedge (as in, "theoretically, the coin could land on its edge"), or a bone tossed out of respect for CBS News. Mr. Fleischer may have faults, but calling these clear fakes what they are is not one of them.

-- Eric Wallace

[Read "Why MoveOn Didn't Move on the Bankruptcy Bill," by Julia Scott.]

I read with interest your analysis of MoveOn's decision not to fight the bankruptcy bill. It's a shame, really, that MoveOn decided its members couldn't have caused change in this bill. Bushwa! A hardy troop of Senate and House staffers, consumer advocates, law professors, lawyers and activists have worked -- mostly for free and without a dime of PAC money -- to fight this bill, and they succeeded in delaying its enactment for eight years. We were Democrats and Republicans and Independents. We were strange bedfellows, but united in the belief that someone in this country ought to stand up for the bankrupt debtors of America against the predatory power of the credit card companies.

I cannot believe that MoveOn's members would have been incapable of understanding, or being engaged on this issue. No one likes the credit card companies, and everyone with an address is familiar with their onslaught. They made record profits during these years while crying wolf before a Senate bought and paid for year after year. No one would have understood the self-evident truth that the people who can assure responsible use of consumer credit are the card issuers? No one wanted to hear about the irony of refusing a safety net for the elderly, while giving millionaires unlimited homesteads and protected trusts? Bushwa. (Insert a bad word here.)

-- Corinne Cooper

Salon Staff

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