Did you know “Black Gold” is an outdated term? Originally it was once a term that described oil men getting rich. But in the modern world oil makes everyone richer and life a lot more comfortable. And “Black Gold” is outdated in another way. Gold’s practical, real-world value has nearly vanished while oil is the most valuable commodity on the planet by far. Watch to learn more.
Black gold. People have used that term in a favorable way for a long time. But I’m here to tell you “black gold” is an insult to oil and every person who has ever played a role in turning that resource into valuable products. I am not kidding.
People started calling oil “black gold” simply because the early oilmen were getting rich producing a commodity that was as valuable as gold. At the time that was true. But today, oil is the most valuable commodity on the planet by far. The only other resource that’s even close is natural gas, which is basically oil’s lighter, quicker, younger brother. Gold, on the other hand, is not much more than a trinket.
I know… I can sense your skepticism… just hear me out.
Historically, gold has been a convenient store of value. As a rare mineral it gave us an easy way to move large sums of wealth from one place to the other. Everybody agreed on gold’s value so it was a good common currency. As a soft, durable lustrous metal it was molded into coins and beautiful, ornamental things such as rings and necklaces. For thousands of years this was enough to keep gold #1 among all the best things in the world.
But, those days are over. What good is gold today? We don’t use it as the basis for our currency—although we probably should. Not that long ago we used gold in dental work to fill cavities and crown teeth, but we have better, cheaper materials today . Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity, so it’s still used in electronics such as television and phones, but only in tiny amounts. There are other metals that can be used instead of gold that are nearly as good. The truth is, if space aliens came to the planet tomorrow and took every bit of gold from the ground and from every vault, it wouldn’t matter a bit.
In contrast, oil is essential to every thing in your life. The only thing you need more than oil is the air you breathe. Is that just hyperbole? I don’t think so.
Well, Mark, what about food and water? That’s more important than oil, isn’t it. Yes, it is… but, how do you get food and water? In the modern world we use gigantic amounts of oil and natural gas to put that food in the grocery store or in the restaurant. Natural gas is a feedstock for the fertilizer that grows the food and gasoline and diesel run the tractors. The infrastructure that brings clean water to your home was built and is maintained using lots of oil.
Transportation…which is THE thing that separates the modern world from the bad old days runs entirely on petroleum. Electric cars and trains don’t exist without oil.
Virtually every modern product has some petroleum in it, whether it’s plastic packaging, the material in your clothes, the phone in your hand or the paint on your walls. And it’s the electricity you plug every appliance, tool, or gadget into.
Everything in your life… and I do mean everything… is made, transported, used and disposed of using gigantic quantities of oil and natural gas.
Now imagine if space aliens came down and sucked all the oil and gas out of the ground. What would happen? The world would descend into chaos almost immediately. It’s hard to imagine more than ten or twenty percent of the entire world population surviving more than a year.
And that leads me to the last point I want to make about the “black gold.” The general misconception is that oil makes the oilman rich. Well, in some cases that does happen. But the greatest amount of wealth generated…by far… goes society as a whole. Petroleum and its products are used by every other businesses and industry to generate exponentially more wealth. Because of oil and natural gas, the average person of today is wealthier than any king who lived hundreds of years ago.
Black gold? Come on. Don’t insult the resource, those that produce it and all of us who use it in everything. For the Clear Energy Alliance, I’m Mark Mathis. Power On.
Gold, the most useful metal: While gold remains highly useful in society, the point being made in the video is that it’s no longer necessary to the function of the modern world. Gold is used in tiny amounts in most consumer electronics, but unlike oil there are viable alternatives. The amounts used in any given device are exceedingly small, for example about $0.50 cents worth in a $1,000.00 smart phone. https://geology.com/minerals/gold/uses-of-gold.shtml
Oil used in transportation: https://www.eia.gov/Energyexplained/?page=us_energy_transportation
How plastic is made from natural gas: https://extension.psu.edu/how-plastic-is-made-from-natural-gas
The Greatest Inventor You Never Heard Of – Leo Baekeland, inventor of synthetic plastic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJlDkVN3el4&t=188s
Various Uses of Petroleum: http://www.petroleum.co.uk/other-uses-of-petroleum
Breakdown of a barrel of oil: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=oil_home
Energy use in Agriculture: http://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ibr/article/viewFile/6509/5125
The use of plastics in cars: https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Automotive/
Gold’s history as a currency standard. https://www.britannica.com/topic/gold-standard
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