Just when you thought Christianity’s penchant for the bizarre had exhausted itself comes news from UPI that a group calling itself “Pray Live” organized a D.C. prayer rally to lower gasoline prices. According to the story “various Christian clergy from around the country” met last Thursday and prayed to resolve the energy crisis. I wonder if Jerry Falwell laid hands on pump number three? Obviously, this absurd publicity stunt will accomplish nothing for the simple reason that there are no gods. We are on our own. Might as well face reality rather than looking for a deus ex machina to bail us out of this fix. And what a fix it is. As a nation, we’ve got to make some tough choices with respect to energy, and not ten years from now, not one year from now, but right now.
To understand the pickle in which we find ourselves, I recommend reading Energy Bulletin’s excellent peak oil primer. Simply put, we have reached (or are about to reach) the point at the very top of a bell-shaped curve in which the world is producing as much oil as it ever will. At that point the world has produced and consumed half of all oil reserves. Thereafter we go over the top of the curve and production slides downhill forever. Several very knowledgable geologists believe that we reached that peak in 2005. As demand for oil grows around the world, there will not be enough supply from oil-exporting countries like Saudi Arabia to satisfy that demand. Therefore, the price goes up. Simple economics that has nothing to do with God. The U.S. used to be the world’s largest oil exporter 50+ years ago. But then we peaked in 1970. Ever since we’ve had to rely on foreign oil to make up the difference. And year after year that difference has grown steadily but surely. Now we import about 63 percent of all oil we consume. That figure will continue to grow. (Think that war in Iraq is really about spreading democracy? Think again.)
Geopolitics and energy security aside, what should us normal nonbelieving folk do? While some of our Christian friends are praying for God to bail them out, we should face the facts and act accordingly. It’s a difficult problem with no easy answers. Gas isn’t going back to $1.50 and it will probably hit $4.00 by this summer. Make choices now that reduce your reliance on cheap oil. Live closer to work. Trade in that SUV for something more energy efficient. Get your bike out of the garage and start riding it. Not only will your health improve but you’ll be preparing yourself for a radically different world that is just around the corner, prayers or no prayers.