Todd Huttunen began appraising more than 20 years ago with a few years off in between to pursue a career in cabinet making. He relegated that to hobby status and is currently an appraiser in an assessor’s office. His best friend dubbed him The Hall Monitor because of his rigidity and respect for rules. He offers Soapbox readers tongue-in-groove insight on appraisal issues. This week Todd applies oil to the squeaky news. …Jonathan Miller

We cannot drill our way out of $4 per gallon gasoline. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. This is something appraisers understand. Unlike the real estate market these days, in terms of energy, Demand is growing and supply is shrinking.

The United States comprises 4.5% of the world’s population and consumes 24% of the world’s oil. We use 20.8 million barrels of oil a day. The next largest consumer is China which has more than four times our population but uses only one third as much oil.

If China used as much oil as we do, per capita, they alone would be consuming 89,000,000 barrels a day (more than the world is currently producing), which is of course impossible. If they purchased every barrel produced everywhere they still wouldn’t have enough for themselves they’d be short about 2.8 million barrels a day – and there would be not one drop for anyone else on the planet!

And then there is the little matter of India, which has 1,100,000,000 people, nearly as many as China and 3.5 times more than the United States. Much the same as China, they have a rising standard of living and they want cars too.
It is difficult for me to understand those – particularly the morons on Fox News – who claim that all we need to do is start drilling for oil off the coasts and in Alaska and we’ll be fine. Our leaders suggest that our standard of living is not negotiable. Well I’m sorry but “Houston, we’ve got a problem” and it’s not going to be solved by sticking more straws in the ground nor is the answer to be found in ethanol, wind farms, nuclear power or used french fry oil. The American way of life will have to change, whether we like it or not.

You may ask what kinds of changes can any one person make in their own life. I think it starts, in this political season, by redefining what is meant by the word “patriotism”. Instead of, or at least in addition to symbols like “Support the Troops” bumper stickers and politicians wearing flag lapel pins, why not make a more tangible statement by riding a bike to work or school instead of driving a car. Or if you really want to reduce your carbon footprint, try a vegetarian diet (personally, I’m going to switch to a bike commute but I’m not ready to give up hamburgers just yet).