The Oil Glut At The End Of The Universe
By Russell Seitz
There was more to last summer’s nostalgia binge than the Rolling Stones and The Beachboys. Paul Ehrlich was back on the air. At the height of the last ‘energy crisis’, the Neomalthusian population bomber predicted global starvation and the implosion of natural gas supplies by the time Mick Jagger turned 40 . No such luck, so Ehrlich turned to warning of a mass extinction of Republicans . But even as he and former next president gore were exhorting us to repent ,and trade in our limos, Lear and Escalades for Segways and Amtrak seats, a funny thing happened on the way to Saturn . The space probe that alit on its smog shrouded moon Titan may have changed everything , again. Civilization is about to clash with a Titanic oil glut.
Titan is awash with liquid hydrocarbons, but the Huygens Lander has found no sign of life, which means finders keepers for NASA’s proprietors. That means us, and the cameras show a planet-scape Albert Beirstadt might have painted to decorate the board room of Standard Oil. Sure it's cold outside on Titan , but this week, Earthly science jourals are abuzz --there’s some kind of atmosphere -- a mixture so rich that the rain on the plain is mostly methane.