What’s in a barrel of oil?

There’s more than just unrefined gasoline pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. Someone said to me that the whole disaster makes him want to ride a bike, and I can see his point. No one wants to see pollution, the death of marine life, and the livelihoods of many in that region suffer. If using less gas would solve the dependence on oil, and by extension, reduce the likelihood of more gulf disasters, it seems like a no-brainer. But like everything else in this life, it is never really so simple.

One barrel of crude oil is about 42 gallons. Only 19 gallons – less than 1/2 of the barrel – is turned into gasoline that you use to drive to the store, take the kids to school, and go to work.

Do you like getting produce at the grocery store or shopping at the mall? Ever get mad that something is out of stock? The diesel truck that will bring it is another 10 gallons of the barrel of crude.

Jet fuel is another 4 gallons. Sure, you could drive four or five days to get to grandma’s across the country, but a couple of hours in the plane sounds better than a carful of arguing kids and stopping every two hours for the dog to pee on a square foot of grass near a drive through.

Like to grill out? Propane is another gallon from the crude oil barrel.

Let’s see what else you’ve used today that comes from the last 7 gallons of crude oil. Well, there’s your toothbrush, comb, soap, shampoo, nail polish, and perfume from this morning. Wear contacts? Did you listen to music? The CD, CD player, Ipod – most of the parts originate from petroleum.

We could just not make heart valves and artificial limbs and reuse hypodermic needles and blood plasma bags. But the detergent to wash them is also a petroleum product. Hmm…

Can you imagine a world without refrigerators, dishwashers, telephones, cameras, basketballs, and life jackets?

So the whole mess really is bigger, REALLY bigger, than it first appears. We are in this way deeper than one mile under the Gulf of Mexico. Any ideas?



2 thoughts on “What’s in a barrel of oil?

  1. We could reduce production of dispasable items (pens, razor blades, plastic packaging, unreliable power tools with disposable batteries, and of course, hybrid cars) the waste generated by recycling their batteries will outrun the cost of gas saving!!)

    • I was thinking about the electric and hybrid cars. One thing that has made them so efficient is the fact that heavier, stronger metal has been replaced by lighter plastics, which are petroleum products.

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