Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One of the Millions of Hurricane Katrina Stories

Read One of the Millions of Hurricane Katrina Stories by Michael Homan if you can. I won't try to extract from it. It's a powerful eye-witness account and compelling personal narrative.

Two newspaper editorials are also worth your time. The lead editorial in Sunday's Washington Post -- Disaster Economics -- says it's likely, though far from certain, the U.S. economy will take the event in stride. This counters something I read and blogged about a few days ago concerning the destruction of the Port of Southern Louisiana, but it rings true nonetheless. In contrast, Katrina and the Gas Pump, an editorial in today's NYT, says high demand and short supply of gasoline is not a temporary problem:
Gasoline prices seem destined to stay elevated until at least next spring. Even if the damage in the Gulf Coast is repaired soon - a big if - oil producers and refiners will require a premium to compensate for the risk that another killer storm could further disrupt operations in this hurricane season. Moreover, Katrina is causing refineries to draw down oil stockpiles that would have been used to produce home heating fuel for use this winter. That makes for a very thin supply cushion in the months ahead - not to mention high home-heating bills on top of high gasoline prices.

But even before the hurricane hit, oil producers were pumping all-out to meet demand. Driven mainly by gasoline consumption in the United States and industrialization in China and India, the world's consumption of oil is 85 million barrels a day. That is just short of the maximum that can be pumped, and leaves only about 1 million barrels a day in spare capacity, the lowest level in three decades. As with gasoline, the thinner the cushion, the higher the price.
The writer says it's clear that Americans need to conserve energy, particularly by cutting back on needless driving of automobiles.

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