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The New Cold War

Written by Luke Burgess
Posted December 19, 2005

On Thursday I shared my eye-popping gas and electric bill with you.

If you can remember correctly, my gas and electric bill increased over 162% from the previous month.

Most of the total from the bill, 68% to be specific, came solely from the natural gas commodity.

Mike Schaefer was the first to warn me about this over the summer. The television, internet, radio, and newspaper media soon followed.

And using my philosophy of "everyone can't be wrong about the same thing," I figured that my heating bill was going to increase. But I certainly had no clue it was going to be that bad.

And my story is just one of many others just like it. Let me quickly explain.

The Burgess family celebrated Christmas early this year. Several of us are going to out of town next weekend, so we decided to exchange gifts and have dinner yesterday.

As I passed the mashed potatoes across the table yesterday evening, the conversation of gas and electric bills came up.

Get this. The gas and electric bills for 6 of the 7 homeowners in my family increased over 100%!

Now I can only assume that this is an indication to what everyone else's gas and electric bills in the U.S. Northeast are like. And it isn't pretty.

I see and hear things everyday that validate how bad the energy crisis really is and how bad the energy crisis it is getting.

I found two interesting stories that I want to share with you today that point to the severity of the energy crisis. Here they are.

Stop Thief!
Boy Steals Energy

Take a look at this:



It looks like some kind of weird fusion between a Chinese boy and a queen termite. But it's not.

This picture is of a boy speeding away from a crime he just committed.

His crime, you ask?

Stealing natural gas.

Good thing he's not a cigarette smoker, huh?

I didn't think it was possible to steal natural gas this way. But apparently I was wrong.

Farmers around the central Chinese town of Pucheng frequently filch natural gas from a local oil field.

As the Chinese economy booms and automobile use spreads, the country as a whole appears to be on a feverish quest for fossil fuels.

Oil consumption rose by 11 percent last year, and the number of private autos hit 14 million in 2003-and is expected to rise to 150 million by 2015.

Now as you already know, the energy crisis is not just in China. It's worldwide.

And for me, this picture really sums up the energy crisis.

The fact is people are, or soon will become, desperate. And when people become desperate, they'll do just about anything. Including risking their lives to steal 10 bucks worth of gas.

You know, if my gas and electric bill continues to look like last month's, it might be only a matter of time before you see the old Lukester pedaling down the street with a big bag full of gaseous goodies himself.

School Thermostats Dive
As heating bills continue to rise, thermostats go down is public school

As oil and natural gas prices soar, public schools are turning down the thermostat, finding alternative sources of fuel, even cutting back on the school week.

School officials are now encouraging students to wear zip-up sweatshirts and fleeces to stay warm.

My girlfriend is an art teacher for a Baltimore City public school. She told me that her classroom is flat out cold. She reported the problem to the administrative office. They told her there was nothing they could do about it.

The school thermostat is set at 67 degrees and that's where it's staying.

Public schools are being walloped with high fuel bills, whether it's diesel fuel to run their buses or heating oil or natural gas to keep buildings warm.

Even the cost of brewing a cup of joe at pubic schools is going up.

In St. Paul, Minn., the school district has come up with a $25-per-appliance annual fee as one in a series of steps to recoup utility costs. That means teachers have to pay to plug in their coffee makers, microwaves and refrigerators in classrooms and offices.

In western North Dakota, the Killdeer School District is considering going to a four-day school week, triggered in part by higher fuel costs.

With the coldest months ahead, school business officers are worried most about heating their buildings.

Now let me tell you. I've been to the school where my girlfriend teaches. I'm not a building contractor. But I know enough to tell you that her particular building is inadequately insulated if at all. I expect that poorly insulated buildings are not limited to Baltimore City Public schools. Rather this is probably a problem across the entire country.

The cold war of the 80s may be behind us. But there is a new cold war. This time the war has nothing to do with contentious Soviet-American relations.

This time the war is on cold itself.


- Luke Burgess
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