...from an energy standpoint, that is. Folks over at The Oil Drum are running the numbers on comparing human labour [sic] to oil. Turns out that running the human machine for 45 years on food-calories uses just about the same amount of energy as contained in four barrels of oil, each of which has a whopping 5.8 million BTUs of energy. And if you think the price of oil is high, flip the fold for what the 'fair' cost should be.
$200,000 per barrel.
The drum has suggested that might be a fair price if we lived in a world where the energy generated by a person was fairly yardsticked against the energy generated by an oil-drinking machine. It's a dazzling number, an absurd one... and it reflects how poorly our global citizenry understands what a precious gift oil is.
There are some dissenters in the very long thread. Some suggest that it's an apple-orange comparison as the human body is a machine and oil is a fuel; better to compare the Big Macs eaten directly to the oil, or real-world jobs where oil directly replaces labor e.g. two men cutting logs to a single man with a chainsaw and some gas. Others suggested, for political and moral reasons, such a comparison can and should never be made, obviating the fact that humans are replaced with machines on a regular basis. What is the fair price of oil, and how should it be measured to human labor? :: The Oil Drum