Artist Statement* of “Beyond Petroleum” – By Liza J. Lee
Craftivism Art Show 2010 (Group Art Show)
For a sustainable community, we need to get “Beyond Petroleum” and implement more alternative “green” energies, such as solar, wind, hydrogen and nuclear. This would help alleviate petroleum dependencies, tensions in the mid-east and provide opportunities to contribute towards sustainable growth. To support my hypothesis, here is research where I shall leave to the audience to interpret.
The US allocated one trillion dollars in costs to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Iraq has the second largest oil reserve in the world, with known reserves of 43 billion barrels of crude oil, as well as large quantities of natural gas. The US is the world’s largest oil consumer and the second-largest energy user after China.
About 31 percent of US oil output comes from the Gulf of Mexico. The area is home to 43 percent of operable refining capacity and seven of the country’s 10 busiest ports.
On April 10, 2010, BP’s exploratory offshore drilling rig exploded after a blowout, killing 11 people. 4.9 million barrels of crude oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the biggest off-shore oil spill in US history. BP had changed its name from British Petroleum and added the tagline, “Beyond Petroleum” in 2000 to highlight the company’s interest in alternative and environmentally-friendly fuels.
However, petroleum continues to receive enormous subsidies, which includes consumer tax levies at the pump, while renewable energies receive a tiny fraction of that amount from governments around the world.
Alternative energy is unlikely to meet more than 10% of the world’s energy needs for decades to come. Windmills work only when the wind blows. And each windmill needs two tons of rare earth metals for its construction. Windmills are primarily built in China. The country has recently slashed its exports of rare earths metals, as they will require them for their own windmills.
China is also buying unprecedented amounts of uranium for nuclear energy. Each new reactor requires about 400 tons of uranium to get started. The nation may purchase about 5,000 metric tons in 2010, more than twice as much as it consumes, building stockpiles for future nuclear reactors.
Meanwhile, the US has injected one trillion dollars in stimulus packages in 2010. The budget deficit for 2010 alone is $1.5 trillion. The stimulus funds have made virtually no dent in the US unemployment rate. Subsequently, consumer spending, which includes petroleum makes up 70 percent of the economy, is being held back by the highest unemployment rate since 1984. A sluggish US economy reduces crude oil demands from Canada, the largest exporter of total petroleum to the United States.
* This artist statement is an opinion by the writer-artist, with research from Bloomberg.com and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.