These guys don’t worry about the weather and neither should you. In fact, these guys don’t worry about the Alaskan Pipeline either, nor any oil drilling going on. They seem quite content. Snow White and I were content rowing up the river. I had no intention of rowing all the way to 12-Mile-Island but before i knew it, we were there. It was sunny and warm with light wind and humidity was low. We can expect more of the same for the next several days. On Thursday afternoon, a few thunderstorms popped up in the afternoon and activity like this will probably continue through the weekend. They should be generally few and far between but if you find yourself under one, it could have a little bite with a heavy downpour and lightning with a risk for hail and gusty winds. The long wave pattern will generally remain the same with little upper disturbances wandering down. It’s really really tough to pick them out much ahead of time beyond just looking to see if they are there. The models will put one in and the next model run magically makes them disappear. But, I think it’s safe to say there will be some moving through the flow periodically. That will trigger scattered to isolated t’storms, mainly in the afternoon. That’s why Snow White and I are rowing in the morning….though not as early as she would like. I like to snooze. The pattern looks to persist into the middle of next week as the sharp change reported yesterday may get pushed back a few days.
St. Louis flood photos-Here is a photo gallery out of the St. Louis Dispatch
On This date in History they let the oil flow! In 1968, a big oil field was discovered off the North Coast of Alaska at Prudhoe Bay. There were a couple of problems. First off, the area had to be opened up to drilling and the frozen conditions of the sea for most of the year made it impossible to reliably transport the oil from the region by ship. The US had been the largest producer of oil in the world until 1970. As Mid-East Oil production surged, old fields in the US decreased and so in 1972, the US Interior Department opened up the area for exploration. In 1973, there was an oil crisis caused by the embargo of exported oil to the US by many Arab nations. Today’s problems are caused by prices; back then it was actual shortages of the raw material causing a spike in prices. Anyway, the US hurried construction of an 800 mile pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Barrow, Alaska where it could be loaded on to ships.
In 1974, the major oil companies partnered up to build the pipeline. Their biggest fight was with environmentalists. Some complaints were that the caribou in the region would suffer and the permafrost would be damaged by a buried pipeline with warm oil. So, the company elevated about half of the pipeline so that the caribou could pass and the permafrost would be unaffected. They said it would pollute the waters of Prince William Sound that teemed with salmon. The pipeline began flowing on this date in 1977 and peaked in the amount of oil provided around 800,000 barrels a day in 1988.
In general, the environmental fears have been largely relegated to the ash-heep of history. Well, I suppose the fear is still there but reality has been much less doom and gloom. The Caribou have actually increased in numbers and that is trumpeted often by proponents of drilling. But, they usually leave out the fact that much of the increase happened in the first years of operation because many predators like Grizzly Bears got scared away by construction. Nevertheless, the Caribou are doing just fine and, from the pictures above, they not only don’t seem to mind the pipeline, they seem to enjoy the scenery around actually oil drilling operations.
There have been two spills. One was when a someone who was presumably an environmentalist who blew a hole in the pipeline. Some 500,000 gallons of oil spilled on the ground near Fairbanks. But, before you start thinking that the oil man has been a better friend to the Caribou and their friends than the environmentalists who think blowing up pipelines is a good thing…the Exxon Valdez ran aground on March 24, 1989 into Prince William Sound. It was a huge disaster. It was caused by human error but that is part of the risk of oil recovery, production and transportation. So opponents of drilling do have a leg to stand on.
Nevertheless, this story illustrates how many of the concerns by opponents of production of America’s energy needs are often nothing more than scare tactics. And that’s too bad because it obscures the more legitimate concerns. But, we are in a bit of a quandary. We need oil. It is the most utilitarian and efficient source of energy we have. In fact, the automobile was seen as an environmental lifesaver when it came about at the beginning of the 20th Century because it eliminated the disease prone and cumbersome wastes from animals in the cities. By the 1960′s, the unintended consequences came about.
There are all sorts of reasons why we need to find alternative sources of energy. It may or may not be possible. There are people trying. But in the meantime, we need energy to live. I heard a presidential candidate say that drilling for oil offshore or in Anwar wouldn’t reduce gas prices today so he’s against it. What he didn’t say that development of alternative sources of energy won’t reduce today’s gas prices either. In fact, the Congressional mandate of ethanol from Corn has created all sorts of problems…more unintended consequences. The Alaska Pipeline has a pretty good record. So has the Gulf of Mexico drilling operations. Pretty good isnt’ good enough and we should and can do better. But, in doing so, we need new oil and gas sources until alternatives can be developed. Had Anwar been opened up 8 years ago, there would be more oil on the market today and perhaps lower prices. The Prudhoe Bay field was discovered in 1968, developed beginning in ’72 and on line with production in ’77. It can be done. It must be done. There is no alternative not today, nor tomorrow…we have to wait several tomorrows and the only answer for now is oil, for better or worse.
Here is a link to a site that is hard to figure out. Sometimes when I read it I think that it is operated from the far radical left…at other times it looks like something from the political right. So, it may be a good balance. I think some of you may find it a good read as well….interesting at least…and pretty controversial I’m sure.