Sunday, January 6, 2013

Drilling down to the true motivation

Let's conjecture about two neighboring states, Vermont and Massachusetts, that have populations which consume a common product, maple syrup.

Vermont is king of maple syrup in the United States, producing far more than its residents can eat (drink?). In fact, more than one million gallons are output annually, from single-owner sugar shacks to large factories.

On the consumption side, Bay Staters pour much more maple syrup on their pancakes than Vermonters do, however, production of maple syrup in Massachusetts is less than a tenth of Vermont's.

Now let's imagine that a brilliant agro-scientist invents a genetically-altered maple tree that produces twenty times the amount of sap of a normal tree and matures in half the time, but only grows in the Massachusetts Berkshires. The promise of a quickly expanding supply of the raw material for producing maple syrup attracts the attention of companies looking to set up shop in Western Mass.

What would the Vermont maple syrup industry do? Sit idly on the sidelines? Or might they consider waging a media campaign pushing their "natural" maple syrup, enjoyed by generations of Americans? Might they create doubt in the minds of people about the genetically-altered syrup, pointing out that it's untested and claiming that it might cause massive negative health effects down the road?

Maybe they'd go a step further and hire lobbyists to convince the Massachusetts legislature to outlaw this obviously dangerous tree in an effort to stave off a potential health disaster.

Does this seem ridiculous? Would people actually carry out such extreme measures to protect their financial interests?

Now swap the Vermont maple syrup for Middle East oil and the genetically-altered syrup for oil produced in the United States by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Would the oil producing countries in the Middle East be motivated to turn Americans' opinions against fracking, a production technology combined with dramatic improvements in seismic detection and directional drilling, which has the potential to zero out U.S. imports of foreign oil and drop prices worldwide?

Might an oil rich country, such as Qatar, be motivated to invest in an anti-fracking movie designed to inform public opinion?

Might Middle Eastern countries' oil industries support clean energy lobbies in the U.S. which, although seemingly in conflict with their own interests, actually serve their interests by mounting pressure against the U.S. exploiting its own oil and gas reserves?

Might the sale of Al Gore's Current TV to Al Jazeera create a platform for spreading the word?

Just sayin'...

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