At $20 a barrel, there’s a major world oil shortage. At $50 a barrel, there’s enough oil to last well into the next century, regardless of increasing usage. Therefore, the ability of oil to sustain a price much above that level for very long is fictional. This is why Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez intends to ask OPEC to set a minimum price for oil of $50 a barrel. Venezuela’s deposits of extra heavy oil in the Orinoco are the reason. Until recently, the have not been counted among the world’s oil reserves because they were too expensive to exploit. But at $50 a barrel, refining them and selling them is a profitable enterprise. The reserves are truly massive. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy believes that they exceed the reserves of the whole Middle East.
So far this season, there have been four times as many tornadoes in the U.S. midwest than normal. These storms have killed nearly 75 people, and caused vast amounts of damage. Meanwhile, Europe is suffering from weather so strange and violent that nobody can remember anything like it. For example, a tornado struck Hamburg, causing extensive damage and killing two. The Hawaiian island chain had experienced the most violent and rain-soaked spring in memory, and fires have burned an almost inconceivable million acres of the Texas Panhandle…followed by floods that dropped nine inches of rain on the stricken region.
Designers assure us that the highways of tomorrow will be filled with lighter, cleaner and more fuel-efficient automobiles made in from recycled plastics (from things like soda bottles), wood pulp and cellulose.
Researchers at General Motors are pinning their hopes on a substance called carbon fiber, an extremely strong thin fiber made by heating synthetic fibers, such as rayon, until charred (there?s no word about whether it can be recycled from existing materials).
Weather across the world has been violent, with unusualevents in Hawaii and Europe, and exceptionally destructivestorms in the U.S. At least 27 people died overnight in themidwestbecause of tornadoes. Over the past month, thestate of Hawai’i has received record rainfall. A dam burston the island ofKauai,causing seven deaths, and a deluge on Oahu resulted inflooding and the closing ofWaikikiBeach due to sewageoverflow. Extensivefloodingis taking place in Europe, andGermany was stunned on March 27 when a tornado struckHamburg,killing two people and wreaking havoc.