When news recently broke that the 78 year-old actor Larry Hagman had surfaced in California promoting solar energy as means of staving off the end of civilization, I must admit I was somewhat taken aback. Prior to this, the last time anyone had heard from Hagman was when he was part of a "who done it" spoof which TV viewers watched in an attempt to ascertain "Who Shot J.R.?"
Now he looks like just so many other Hollywood figures that miss the limelight and therefore come out and say something crazy in order to get a little attention: Either that or he actually believes the things he said in the interview for the Oregonian. (After reading the interview a couple of times, I personally hope he's just talking crazy to get attention because if he really believes the things he said, Hollywood has hit a new low.)
In the interview, Hagman takes Sarah Palin's famous "Drill, baby, Drill" and augments it to fit solar energy by changing it to "Shine, baby, Shine." He describes solar power as "an inexhaustible source of energy" which he uses to provide electricity for his home.
To this point, Hagman's words are reasonable: If someone wants to provide power for their home via solar panels rather than conventional electricity that's their choice (although I would be interested to know what the backup plan is for densely overcast or stormy days, as well as whether the panels themselves are hail resistant).
But Hagman soon threw reasonableness out the window and tried to advance a need for solar panels based on his belief that oil is scarce and civilization is ending. His exact words were: "When affordable oil gives out, we're in real trouble - I mean the collapse of civilization, within 15 to 20 years."
I can only say that I was embarrassed for Hagman's family when I read those words.
The United States has enough untapped oil to meet current demand for more than one hundred years (up to 300 years in some estimates). Thus, when gasoline was $4 a gallon in 2008, even Newsweek magazine asked aloud why we weren't drilling for more oil near the Rocky Mountains, where it is estimated that we have enough oil in shale to "out-produce Saudi Arabia."
And I haven't even mentioned the billions of barrels of oil that await us in ANWR or, dare I say, offshore.
In all honesty, the only way "affordable oil" will cease to exist for our nation is if we lack the courage or the ingenuity to go after it, or if the market is presented with such a clear and dependable alternative to oil that the need for oil disappears altogether. So far, however, Americans are both courageous and ingenious, and the handful of Hollywood actors who put solar panels on their homes don't represent enough market demand to change things.
In the end, it seems that the actor who played an oilman in "Dallas" didn't learn much about oil at all.
Crossposted at Big Hollywood.