Oil is Evil, Get a Horse
by RAYMOND S. KRAFT
July 7, 2008
Nevada Senator Harry Reid gave a June 30 interview, now famous on YouTube, in which he somberly intones, "Coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick. And this global warming is ruining our country. It's ruining the world." Oil and coal, of course, are all natural and organic, created deep in the womb of Mother Earth by Gaia herself, a point largely lost on the Enviromentalists and otherDemocrats infatuated with all things natural and organic.
Thenthere is another inconvenient truth Harry Reid hasn't noticed.
In the last hundred years, while we have been getting sicker and sicker from oil and coal, life expectancy in the world and in the US has doubled. Life expectancies in the world "before coal, before oil," were much shorter than now. In the age of Classical Greece and Rome, 1,500 to 2,500 years ago, andin Medieval Britain,500 to 1,000 years ago, life expectancy was just20-30 years.By 1900 life expectancy had risen to 30-40 years, and global life expectancy today is 78 years, three times as long as justtwo hundred years ago.In the US, life expectancy for men was 38 yearsin 1900, and 75 years in 2004. For women, life expectancy was 40 yearsin 1900, 80 yearsin 2004.
The malevolent Internal Combustion Engine, which Al Gore in his first book,"Earth in the Balance", declares must be abolished, and electric power plants burning coal and natural gas, and the gravest of all possible dangers, uranium and nuclear power,have freed man from the brutal physical labor that was once the common lot. There is anirrefutable correlationbetween the burning of more coal and more oil, and the doubling of global life expectancy in just 100 years.
In the last century, as we have been dying like flies from the evils of oil, coal, asbestos, lead paint and leadfillings, pesticides on our food, nuclear waste, carbon dioxide, Alar on apples, salmonella on tomatoes,asthma, rising sea levels, global cooling,global warming, climate change,electrical fieldsfrom power lines that cause leukemia, radiation from cell phonescausing cancer in our brains, sugar, Nutrasweet,transfatty acids,vaccines, antibiotics, mad cow disease, the bird flu virus, fast food,and all the other horrors the media keepbreathlessly warning us of, our life expectancy has doubled.
And our global temperature today is about 0.2 degrees warmer than during the Medieval Warm Period, a thousand years ago, and at leasta full degree cooler than during the HoloceneOptimum, eight thousand years ago. For a beautiful illustration of this, see http://www.globalwarmingart.com/. Harry Reid is plainly and conspicuously, openly and obviously ignorant of long-term climate trends, as the long-term climate trend for the last 8,000 years has been slowlycooling.
But since coal and oil are evil, I think we should take a look at life in America today, without any evil fossil fuels, no coal, no oil, no natural gas, none of these evils that are making us sick. And no nukes, either.
Now, I am reaching into the secret compartment in my desk and removing a fine rosewood box. I open it. Inside is a very special magic wand, one that I was awarded for outstanding scholarship as a young sorcerer's apprentice at Hogwarts College, many years ago. I rarely use it, for it is very powerful, and the slightest mistake may cause havoc. But I am going to use it now. There, it's been a long time since it has touched my fingers, and I can feel its seductive power coursing into my hands already, as tempting as Gollum's ring. Now, I am scribing certain signs in the air with my magic wand. I can't tell you what they are, I can't risk that someone might try them, with terrible consequences. I intone a magic spell. I can't tell you all of it, that would be far too dangerous, but I can tell you a little, so you get the drift.
Ichthi o saurus
Icthi o saurus
Monstrosi petroleus horribilis!
Monstrosi coaleus horribilis!
Monstrosi gaseous horribilis!
There is a sudden flash of blinding light, a thunderous clap and roll of thunderingthunder, an enormous puff of smoke, evenbigger than Bill Clinton's ego, and prestissimo! -suddenly all the oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear poweris gone, and all the cars and trucks and trainsin the greaterLos Angeles basin have become horses and wagons! Ah, the good old days again.
Now, there are some 15 million people living in the greater Los Angeles Basin, in Southern California, give or take a few, and while a few don't have cars, most do, and some have several, so I'm going to guess there are perhaps 20 million cars, trucks, and trains in the LA Basin. Close enough. Or there were. Now, there are some 20 million horses, just about everybody has one, and a lot of people have several. Horses need stables, paddocks, and corals, so I'm doing a bit more magic,doubling the size of the LA Basin to make room for a stable and paddocks behind every home, and turning all the gas stations and garages into feed stores.
Without oil, of course, there is no asphalt for paving, so I will have tomakeall the streets and freeways and parking lotsdirt roads. Shaazaam! There! There! Here and there!No more asphalt anywhere!
Things will slow down a bit. While cars travel 50 or 60 miles an hour, a good younghorse can sustain maybe five or six miles an hour, max,so if you have a thirty minute commute to work, now you'll have to plan on five or six hours. If youhave an older horse, it'll take longer. All those big dirt freeways, the 101, the 5, the 15, the 405, the 10, crowded with millions and millions of horses every rush hour, their hooves turning up clouds of dust that can be seen for miles, that settle on everything all around, all the time - houses, yards, clothes,carriages, furniture, everything.
Well, horses need to eat. There isn't space in the LA Basin for enough pastures or hay farms to feed them all, so for each horse we'll have to import about fifteen pounds of hay and grain each day. With twenty million horses, that'll be about three hundred million pounds, 150,000 tons,of hay and grain. Every day. If we can grow that much out in the Imperial Valley, and if we can load two tons on each wagon, then we'll only need 75,000horse drawn wagons a day rolling fromEl Centro to Los Angeles to feed the horses. And since the round trip will take ten days or so, we'll keep 750,000 teamsters busy hauling hay and grain into the LA Basin. Trains will be faster and haul more, but with no oil or coal, they'll all be wood burning steam engines, very romantic, but a million acres of forest each year will fall for firewood to feed the locomotives, and the wood smoke from their fires will blend with the dust from the hooves of twenty million horses.
Horses need water, at least ten gallons a day, more in hot weather, so we'll have to figure out how to bring another 200,000 million gallons of water into LA from, maybe, the Sacramento River Delta, which will badly impact the endangeredDelta smelt, to water all those horses.
Of course, horses turn hay and graininto horse manure, some twenty or thirtypounds per horse per day, so we'll have perhaps 600 million pounds of horse manure a day that will have to be raked into piles, loaded onto horse-drawn wagons, and hauled off toa field or landfill, or something, somewhere,every day. Perhaps it canbe dried and used for fuel to cook and heat with.Since we have abolished coal, oil, and natural gas, we won't have much electricityand no heating oil, and we'll have to find another source of energy. Third world countries do that. We can too. The San Bernardino Mountains will soon be denuded of trees,as they're harvested for wood to fill the woodstoves for cooking and heating, and300,000 tons of dried horse pucky per day will go far to fill the gap. There won't be enough electricity for air conditioning, orlights. With no oil, no kerosene, so you'll have to burn candles. With no oil, no paraffin, sothey'll have to be made from tallow, rendered beef fat.
Of course, all those wood and horse pucky fires will create millions of tons of carbon dioxide, but that's okay, because they're renewable fuels. They will also emit at least hundreds of thousands of tons of smoke, particulates, that will pollute the atmosphere and irritate the lungs of everybody in town, creating a pandemic of asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases.Fifteen million peoplewill be breathing second hand horse pucky smoke, all day, every day.
Assuming that two men with a horse drawn wagon and shovelscan pick up five tons of horse manure off the streets each day, it will take about 10,000 wagons and 20,000 workersto pick up most of the horse manure from the streets of Los Angeles . They won't get it all, and what's left will be dried and trampled into horse manure dust that blows around in the dirt dust, and when it rains will turn into a slick slurry of horse manure mud everywhere, soiling your Nikes andGuccis, running off into the streams and rivers, fouling the waterways, thence into the sea.
Most of our electricity comes from coal and natural gas, so without thosethere won't be enough electricity to run the pumps that pump water into your houses, at least 1.5 billion gallons a day for fifteen million people,and thenpump your sewage back to sewage treatment plants. So, no running water. No green lawns. No swimming pools. No showers. There will be thousands of horse-drawn water wagons roaming the streets, and you'll buy your water in jugs and buckets from the water wagon for yourself, your family, your horses. You'll take your bath the old fashioned way on Saturday night, boiling water on the kitchen stove, pouring itinto a tub on the kitchen floor, dad goes first, then mama, then the kids, the youngest last. Without running water and sewers there'll be an outhouse for every home, and reallybig outhouses for apartments and offices. Outhouses for Macy's, Nordstroms, Bloomies. And everywhere, thearomas of outhouses and horses.
And, oh yes, a thousand flies for every horse and outhouse, twenty million horses, twenty billion flies.
Otto Beckman writes, in The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible (Random House 1974):
"Of the three million horses in American cities at the beginning of the twentieth century, New York had some 150,000, the healthier ones each producing between twenty and twenty-five pounds of manure a day. These dumplings were numerous on every street, attracting swarms of flies and radiating a powerful stench. The ambience was further debased by the presence on almost every block of stables filled with urine-soaked hay.
"During dry spells the pounding traffic refined the manure to dust, which blew from the pavement as a sharp, piercing powder, to cover our clothes, ruin our furniture, and blow up into our nostrils.
"The 15,000 horses of Rochester, N.Y., produced enough manure in 1900 to cover an acre of ground with a layer 175 feet high. This steadily increasing production caused the more pessimistic to fear that American cities would disappear like Pompeii - but not under ashes. The timely arrival of the horseless carriage prevented this, of course."
So Harry, once again, you are way off base in your doomsday prognostications. At least you provide us with some comic relief, and for that, you have the thanks of a grateful nation.
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Raymond S. Kraft is an attorney and writer in Northern California. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.