Thursday, March 24, 2011

Answers To a Couple of Long-Standing Questions

A couple of questions that have nagged me for a while- but for which I haven't bothered to track down answers- are "What is the rate at which we are using oil compared to the rate at which it forms," and "When was the last formally (i.e. Congressionally) declared US war?" On the surface they're unrelated, but looking at our current conflicts, I think you can make a case for an important relationship. Even Afghanistan, which has little in the way of fossil energy resources, can be interpreted at least in part as a manifestation of Muslim anger at perceived exploitation by western corporate interests.

Yesterday, I came across a quote in an interview in Der Speigel claiming "...we consume as much oil in one year as was created in 5.3 million years." I have guesstimated that our rate of consumption is about a million times greater than the rate of generation, but that was just an off-the-cuff stab at the magnitude. While I'd sure like a citation or link to how the method by which "5.3 million" was calculated, it sits comfortably in the range I'd expect, and I'm pleased (though uneasy) to finally see an estimate.

I just Googled the second question, and found this in a PDF (817 kb) from the Congressional Research Service: "The last formal declaration of war was enacted on June 5, 1942, against Rumania during World War II." I had thought maybe Grenada or Panama (during the Reagan administration) had been formally declared wars, but I wasn't sure. Nor was I sure about Desert Storm under Bush Senior. I guess I'm kind of surprised that there has never been an "official" US war during my lifetime.

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