The New High: Oil

I’m writing this article in congratulations to all of those hard working folks who managed to achieve what market experts have been calling impossible for over a decade: the $100 barrel of oil. That was sarcasm, the rest of this article is not.

This so-called threshold really isn’t, of course. The idea that the number “100” is somehow meaningful is solely based on the fact we use a base-ten numbering system. If we used base-twelve (which actually has a lot to say for it) we would either have panicked back at $72 a barrel or not until we reached $144 a barrel. But the very fact oil prices are so high means people who refuse the accept the reality of our situation will have an increasingly difficult time finding facts to back them up.

At $100 a barrel we have either surpassed our all-time inflation-adjusted high, or are really close to it. The question of whether we have reached it or not is because there really is not one single accepted method to adjust for inflation, and the differences between methods can be quite large. So all of these comparisons people keep quoting are really just economists justifying their salaries. But they do all agree that we are now at either the highest or one of the highest prices in the history of oil. And what makes this exceptional is that we cannot simply dismiss this as oil companies or OPEC messing with the prices. Or, at least we cannot do so and have the evidence back us up.

The last time oil was in this inflation-adjusted price range it was because OPEC severely cut supply in order to drive up prices and punish the United States and the western world. This time it is different. OPEC has not been reducing supply, OPEC countries have actually been struggling to meet demand. Last time the prices increased dramatically and quickly. This time they have increased with demand over the course of a decade. No, this time it is not people playing with the market. This time it is geometrically increasing demand and geometrically decreasing supply.

Ever increasing energy demand can never be met with oil, or with any known energy source. In fact, it cannot be met with any theoretical energy source either. Ultimately, by the laws of physics, it cannot be met period. No, we are in trouble. The important thing to remember is that this is not “period, end of story.” Or rather, it does not have to be. While we cannot scale up any of our solutions to meet the size of our problem, it is certainly possible, and desirable, to scale down our problem to meet the size of our solution. Over the next few weeks Aftermath will be unveiling our plan of how to accomplish the creation of a sustainable, self-sufficient, and luxurious society.

No, this article is not sarcasm. It is not defeatist. Its not the ravings of a borderline personality. Nor is it the talk of the perpetual optimist. It is the first sounding of a battle cry of a man who will not allow everything he holds dear to be destroyed by people who cannot see the forest for the trees, the masses for the people, reality for itself, or the future for its promise.

-Benjamin Shender



  1. Valnurana said,

    January 5, 2008 at 2:19 pm


  2. Joshua Fine & Matt Mosgin said,

    January 11, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Hey Ben,

    Is this the same Benjamin Shender who we used to hang out with back in the old days in College Park? If so, how are you? Do you still remember Manut Bol? and where have you been the last 3 years?


    J. Fine & M to the second power.

  3. Aftermath said,

    January 11, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Yep, e-mail me at

    – Which

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