Trans Alaska Pipeline Pumping Less

The Trans Alaska Pipeline is a 800 mile long tube carrying crude oil from Prudhoe Bay on the north coast of Alaska to Valdez, a seaport on the southern edge of the state. It was constructed to help satiate the overwhelming thirst for gasoline after the oil embargo of the 1970's. It has given us 30 or so years of service delivering petroleum. But now the Alaskan oil fields are in decline, leaving the pipeline with only a trickle to deliver. The chart above, taken from Wikipedia clearly shows the decline in oil output from Alaska. The youngsters of today, who are just now starting to own and drive cars, are experiencing from the beginning higher gas prices. In a decade or two, when Alaskan oil production drops to levels so low the pipeline can no longer be used, they will see a huge 800 mile long empty, rusting pipe and wonder at the waste of energy, effort and materials that went into it. But for the older folks, that pipeline gave us 30 years more of cheaper gas. This growing gap between the older and younger members of our population highlights the fact that we do not use resources for the long term ... our society thinks about what we can get today. One cost of this orientation towards short term profit will be a painful generational divide in society.

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