The falling price of oil has been an economic crusher
For Iran and Venezuela, and of course for Putin’s Russia.
In America we’re happy with the industry’s transforming.
But what if it accelerates the pace of global warming?


            For years the late night wits made jokes about the rising price of oil. During the GW Bush years Jay Leno offered several variations on: “At the gas station near my house they have a slot for your credit card and one right next to it for your 401k” The recent price collapse, however, turned the jesters away from our own leaders to Russia’s. David Letterman, for example, announced that Putin “will finance his next invasion on Craigslist.”

            But for a more penetrating and abundant source of jokes about the impact on the Russian economy we have to turn to that country’s own tradition of dark humor. According to one popular quiz question in 2014: “What do Putin, the price of oil, and the ruble’s value against the dollar have in common? They’ll all hit 63 next year.” In fact, the oil price  kept sinking, and the ruble even faster, as indicated in a tweet which translates as: “Autumn has flown away/Winter has come too/ The euro is 64/ And the dollar, 52.” Another much repeated joke asked: “If you could do your life over, what would you change?” The answer: “My rubles.”  An online animated clip featured a shipboard romance between a Russian ruble and an oil barrel -- until their ship hits an iceberg in the shape of the Crimea.

            The decline in the price of oil was good news not only for the American consumer but also for a U.S. foreign policy facing hostility from Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. But not everyone in America was celebrating. The Keystone pipeline advocates, for example,  had to deal with questions about why their project was needed when there was already an oil glut. Onion magazine announced that “dozens of GOP congressmen were reportedly spotted in rural South Dakota trying the build the Keystone XL pipeline system themselves.”

            A more ominous theme was developed by a number of cartoonists. Steve Breen showed a drunken Uncle Sam as the “World’s No. 1 Energy Consumer” while saying I’ll drink to that!”.  Dave Grunland drew a Gas Hog car and its owner saying: “Maybe I’ll keep you, after all.” And David Horsey depicted a man filling up at a gas pump which announces “Cheap Gas” followed by “Climate Change Cost – Rising Fast!”      

            No such thing any more as good news which isn’t also bad news.



Posted on Saturday, January 03, 2015 (Archive on Friday, September 29, 2017)



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