Friday :: Aug 6, 2004

Plastic People Who Live In Plastic Houses

by pessimist

Polystyrene homes planned for Afghans

Many people in Afghanistan have lost everything, including their own houses, during the country's long decades of war. Rebuilding usually means putting up the same mud-brick structures used for centuries. But those homes become death-traps during the frequent earthquakes that hit the area. Now, some American scientists, engineers and architects think they have a better way to rebuild Afghanistan, using polystyrene.

"The polystyrene foam that we use is just like the stuff you drink out of," said H H "Hoot" Haddock. He has spent the last 20 years, and millions of his own dollars, developing a building system that uses polystyrene.

There is only one BIG problem with this plan - the materials for polystyrene - more correctly for this purpose, Styrofoam - are petroleum based - and petroleum is something Afghanistan doean't have. They will have to buy it.

But to buy it requires something to sell to raise the funds - and the largest product of Afghanistan - ONE-THIRD of its economic output - is opium.

I guess that would be a fair trade - one addiction for another. And !

Works for fee!

Of course, this proposal to build polystyrene homes is going to require a lot of opium poppies to pay for all the oil and natural gas which will be cracked into benzene and erethylene, both inherently dangerous in and of themselves and are the raw materials of polystyrene, which is apparently incredibly flammable from inherent pentane in any form and is known to give off at least 57 byproducts when burned. It is an incredible pollutant, and creates neurotoxins when being made.

All we need in that region of the world!!!

But let's assume that all of these problems aren't going to matter to the Occupation - er, the government of Afghanistan, which is quite a stretch, I know! Here in America, homes can cost upwards of $60 per square foot (I work with a guy who is a home builder), and we know where all of that cost goes. But those kinds of costs can't be borne by a country whose per capita income is about $700 per year! So instead, let's use a hazardous material that only costs under $1/pound to make! [Scroll down]

But this already assumes that the materials necessary have been cracked, unless they are planning on building a factory near Kabul (the only place over which Hamid Karzai can claim that he holds some control). Would YOU invest in such a factory? I wouldn't! In addition, transporting these materials to Kabul would be quite costly, so I think we can assume that the cost per pound will rise significantly.

But then, such a price increase is already underway at the cracking tower:

Oil prices hit fresh record high

US oil prices have hit record highs after the president of Opec said the producers' cartel was unable to push any more supplies into the market. Prices rose to $44.24 a barrel in New York - a level not seen in the 21 years of the New York Mercantile Exchange's oil contract - before dipping slightly.

Earlier, the president of Opec said oil prices were at "crazy" levels, but that Opec was powerless to cool the market. "There is no more supply," said Opec president Purnomo Yusgiantoro. Opec's president said that officials in Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, had told him that that country could raise production, but not immediately. Oil analysts agree that Opec is pumping flat out, so there is limited scope to calm prices by boosting output.

"The oil price is very high. It's crazy," said Mr Yusgiantoro, who is also Indonesia's oil minister. High prices are underpinned by soaring demand from fast-growing China and recovery in the US. They are highly sensitive to any development which could affect the global supply situation, such as the attack warning, or instability in the Middle East.

And now they want to add to the demand by building houses for Afghanis!

Sounds like we have been well-served by having an oilman wannabe pretend to be pResident!

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pessimist :: 4:05 PM :: Comments (1) :: Digg It!