Peak Oil And The Resource Wars
These are critical times and we are a nation divided, a fact that is contributing to our inability to stop ourselves from making one mistake after another, but the first step in repairing the damage we have caused is to admit the truth to ourselves. For a start, let’s call the war in Iraq what it is, a resource war. While we’re at it, let’s stop calling it a war altogether, we all know the truth, it is a hostile occupation of a sovereign nation with the goal of controlling its oil. It’s not a secret so let’s stop whispering in the corner, winning the resource wars is a cornerstone of the neo-con agenda as spelled out in their own words in The Project For A New American Century. If you can’t beat OPEC, join them. Any thinking person knows this to be true, so let’s dispense with the illusions Americans hold so tightly to, that we are a great country with only the best of intentions, that we lead the world in innovation, education and economic strength. At some point in our history these things may have been true, but we have long since relinquished our claim to any, if not all. We have not only lost our status as an innovative, educated, economic powerhouse, but we are barely able to keep our head above water and our survival is only accomplished by our cache of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons coupled with our willingness to use them.
Energy independence is an idea that politicians throw out every so often, but only in a superficial way, as if merely mentioning it will give the impression that they are forward thinking. So far our leaders have been content to appear as if they care about sustainable energy without feeling the need to back it up with any substantive action. Bush is not the only president on the hook for our current predicament, perched precariously on the edge of an energy crisis. Reagan, Daddy Bush and especially Clinton should have done more to protect us from the neo-con world domination plan that has now been put into effect. If only they had started us on our way toward clean and sustainable energy sources, we may not have fallen prey to Little Bush’s imperial exploits in the Middle East. I think most Americans are in some way okay with the idea of war for oil, after all, what is the alternative? Crack has got nothing on oil, there are 279 million people in the United States addicted to oil and we are willing to kill to keep the tap from running dry.
How far are we willing to go to get the oil we need in order to keep our economy from crashing to the ground? And what will happen when it’s all gone? Hubbert’s theory of “peak oil” keeps me up at night. By most estimates we have already reached the point at which global oil production has reached its peak, meaning we are now on the downside of oil production which will go exponentially faster that the climb up. The other sticky wicket in this is, the last half of the oil is the hardest to extract, requiring more energy to drill it out than the output will provide. Not an ideal situation to say the least. The price of oil will not be going down, it will only continue to rise as long as the demand for oil worldwide remains the same. In order for oil prices to stay the same or not shoot up dramatically, we must reduce our consumption or fight wars to make sure that we are the ones controlling the spigot of the last remaining crude. We know on which side Bush and the neo-cons fall, but what about the rest of us?
The important thing to consider is that an oil shortage means higher prices at the pump and higher energy bills, but that is just the beginning, there is much more to consider. This problem is not alleviated simply by driving our cars less, although that would at least be a step in the right direction, this is about a way of life to which we have become accustomed and most of us do not fully realize the extent to which what we consume is fueled by oil (read Eating Fossil Fuels, by David Allen Pfeiffer for a detailed view of food production and its reliance on fossil fuels). Yes we use oil to heat our homes and drive our cars, but food production and its transportation to consumers relies not just on oil, but cheap oil to keep our economy going. Then you have plastics, pharmaceuticals and computers (the list is endless) that are petroleum based, try going a day without encountering plastic. Even solar panels are petroleum based. It is a far reaching problem and while our government tells us not to worry, many others propose doomsday scenarios predicting massive reductions in the world population and a complete collapse of the world economy, in essence bringing about a return to an agrarian society where only the strong will survive. As it is with most things, the truth likely lies somewhere in between the worst case scenario and the best possible outcome, but it is time for the American people to wake up from our 9-11 induced coma and contribute to the conversation.
If we are not okay with engaging in the resource wars, it is time to stand up and demand another way. It is not acceptable that our elected officials and those seeking our votes are ignoring the issue completely. We are well on the way down one road, but it’s still not to late to change course, but changing direction now requires swimming against the current for a while. War and domination of diminishing oil supplies is not the only way, but as much as we argue over the war in Iraq, it is still the easier choice from where we stand right now. In order to choose the other path, we must be willing to make some tough decisions and pay a hefty price. We need a national commitment to achieve energy independence, but considering that we are a country in decline, losing jobs and our security at an alarming rate, how much worse could it get? It is a choice between investing our money, resources and young people into creating new technologies or sending them into the sinkhole of war. The fact that our leaders choose the latter says a lot about them. What will our choice say about us?