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In which Hank finally talks about oil, oil rigs, how we won't run out of oil, but we might kill ourselves getting at the bits that are really really hard to get at.


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A Bunny
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Good morning John.

You know, and probably a lot of people here know, that I am a bit of an environmental activist. This is something that I care about and that I think about a lot, and so I think a lot of people were surprised when I did not talk about the deep water horizon disaster. Like, I'm an expert, and I have a soapbox, so I should say what I have on my mind, but I didn't.

And there are reasons for that. First, I kinda knew it was inevitable, and I was really really angry, and I don't like being super pissed off in these videos. Especially because of the second reason, it kinda makes me focus on blaming people, and that gets really political and really divisive really fast.

And I didn't wanna do this, I didn't want to jump in and be like "It's his fault." It's kind of my fault and your fault, for driving cars. And still, frankly, it's not entirely clear what happened on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig, and how all of the excellent fail-safe systems were not safe during the fail. What I do want to talk about is oil.

So let's start out with if there were no oil anywhere on the planet starting today, we would all die. There would be no economy, there would be no power, there would be no water, there would be no transportation, there would be no food. Luckily for us, we're not going to run out of oil today.

In fact, I'm going to make the somewhat preposterous statement that we are never going to run out of oil. Now I know what you're thinking: that doesn't make any sense,there has to be a finite amount of oil on the planet, and we certainly do use enough of it. And this is perfectly true.

If all oil were equally accessible, we would suck it all up and burn it all off and then one day we would just be out of oil. But that is not the case. There is easy oil to get, there is hard oil to get.

So we've got the easy oil -- actually, we don't have the easy oil anymore, we burned all of the easy oil. And it's hard to get at the hard oil, so you need to do a few things to get at it. You need to make new technology, you need to spend more money, and you can also take more risks.

And you can take more risks by drilling in more environmentally fragile areas, where there is easy oil but if you mess up you have destroyed something that will never be replaced, or for example you could drill an oil well three miles below the surface of the ocean so deep that there are literally no submarines on the planet that could get down there to fix it if something goes wrong. Or you can make your workers work sixteen hour shifts, or you can cut corners, or you can force your managers to do whatever it takes to get the oil well finished. The thing of it all is, corporations are used to risks.

Think about Microsoft. They created this new phone, and it's a complete bomb, and they probably lost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars developing that thing. That's a normal part of running a big, freaking crazy corporation.

And that's fine when it's Microsoft developing a stupid lame phone that nobody's ever gonna want. But in the same vein, BP can take a risk. And they can say "Well, at most, what can happen?

We'll lose an oil rig, it will burn and fall into the ocean, and we'll have a big public relations disaster to take care of." The problem is that BP isn't just risking its oil well, it's risking the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, which is something that isn't theirs. It has intrinsic value, it has actual value, it has actual economic output. Because oil companies are risking something that we all share, not just something that they own, that is why there needs to be this thing called regulation, where the government comes in and says "No, you cannot make your people work sixteen hour shifts; no, you cannot drill at a level deeper than this." And that is why we have regulators in this country.

And at the risk of becoming a little bit political here, there is a certain newly emerged political party that believes, and says that they believe, that the energy industry in America needs to be self-regulated. That they should decide for themselves when something is safe or isn't safe. Oh yeah!

That's a -- That's a great plan! And see, now I'm getting angry, because I'm blaming people, and that's what I didn't want to do. But I did it.

Because -- Augh -- it makes me mad! Catastrophes like this happen, and they will happen more and more and more as oil gets more expensive. That is what they will do.

They will take those risks if there isn't someone to tell them that they can't. In happier news, John and I are finally selling a t-shirt that says Vlogbrothers on it, because that's who we are. And if you like us, and you want everyone you know to know that you like us, you can put it on your body and people will know.

It's available right now for pre-order for two weeks only and then it will never be available again. John, I will see you on Monday.