The Screaming-Meemies Background of Oil Strategy

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The
consensus of opinion among many writers that I think are sound is
that the upcoming war (praise God, may it NOT happen) is about oil.
It's not so much that we want to steal the oil, but that we (that
is, the USA) want to control its flow. And we certainly want to
maintain the dollar market for oil and not let world oil vanish
into the embrace of the euro.

Oil
is the gold of the day, black gold, with one vast difference from
real gold: unlike gold, oil is consumed. Most of the gold that was
ever mined in the whole history of the globe is sitting in bank
vaults, private hoards, and the jewelry collections of individuals
all over the world.

But
we have already consumed more than half of all the oil there ever
was on earth (according to current "best estimates").
Where that came from there is still some more, but it's a dwindling
supply, with an end in sight, and, according to some very brainy
people who represent themselves as experts in this area, with no
known alternative on the horizon. I have no reason to doubt them.

This
unpleasant prospect is causing some deep thinkers to really get
going on long-term strategy. I have lately been looking into the
websites where the bad news about oil is spelled out. I would not
conceal from you that these are not cheery sites. The URL of one
of them is neat and punchy: http://dieoff.org/.

The
"dieoff" is — not to put too fine a point upon it — what
is going to happen when the oil runs out. It is, in fact, what will
begin happening well before the oil runs out, as the various parties,
perhaps as soon as this week, make unfriendly moves to secure what
they think is their share. A world without oil, say these oil-strategy
thinkers, is not a world that can support 6 billions of human beings.
It is not a world that can support 3 billions. It may not even be
a world that can support one billion. It will be, to put it bluntly,
a "Stone-Age world."

Robert
C. Duncan, Ph.D. (of whom more later), has put this point in a mot:
"If God made the earth for human habitation, then He made it
for the Stone Age mode of habitation."

And
the dieoffers — I'll call them that — are not talking about our
having several centuries to ease into a lowered population. They
envision a catastrophic end to the era of fossil-fuel exploitation,
a radical collapse of the entire world industrial system within
the 21st century, a collapse that, they say, actually
began about the year 2000, will quicken in pace till about 2012,
and then drop off a cliff in the run-up to about 2030, when the
lights will have begun to go out permanently, and there will be,
so to speak, need to train candle makers, if wax can be found.

A
key date for this theory is 1979, when world energy production per
capita peaked. (Energy production is still increasing but not
as fast as population.) We have been on the down slope since. I
am not competent to evaluate statements made by the scientists saying
these things, but I am sufficiently impressed by their writings
and their status in the energy field that I insist they cannot be
taken lightly. You can't just say pish and tosh to their research
and writings, that is, if you read them at all; but you certainly
may keep yourself resolutely unaware of them, or blind yourself
to the points they are making by simply asserting that what they
say is not true. Those seem to be the only choices.

An
interesting reflection is to consider the present international
face-off in terms of the absolute gloom projected by the dieoffers.
The junta at present in charge of our Banana Empire is largely constituted
of oil folk. They not only cannot be ignorant of the views I am
talking about, it is almost certainly the case that they are proceeding
as they are because they hold the same views; and in the interests
of what they consider true American patriotism, intend to grab control
of the oil scene worldwide while they still can, so as not to let
"command" slide off either to Muslims or Chinese or any
combination in Europe.

Of
course that is to take the shortsighted, high-time-preference view
of world affairs: I want mine NOW, and let the devil take the rest,
including posterity. But as Hans-Hermann Hoppe has convincingly
argued, high time preference is what our politicians specialize
in. Aprs moi, le dluge is their motto, and meanwhile —
to keep up the French — laisser les bons temps rouler.

A
further point Duncan makes on the dieoff site involves where control
of oil must go in the years immediately ahead. About the year 2008
the OPEC nations will be producing more than 50% of the world's
oil; thereafter OPEC
will control nearly 100% of the world's oil exports
.
OPEC finally takes over, unless. . . .

I
would not blame you if you are now impatient with this presentation.
Does one have to buy such negative views, and what's so terribly
wrong with the Muslim/Arab folk having total control of oil exports?
They're going to have to sell their oil to get any good out of it,
aren't they?

That
assumes the continuation of a somewhat reasonable world interested
in and capable of simple trade: I buy, you sell, and we're both
happy.

The
dieoff people make the opposite assumption. We are headed very
soon into a world, they say, where sheer physical survival is
the issue, and I am not talking about whether you'll have to swap
your SUV for a moped, but whether or not you are going to eat, have
water, and have heat (or cooling) for your house. They say you won't,
after, approximately 2030 and in various places, sooner.

In
addition to the site I've already mentioned, I suggest you look
at Jay Hanson's "synopsis"
of the energy situation
and then go back and overview the
main site with all its links
. I don't have any idea who Jay
Hanson is, but he has done a monumental labor in bringing data together
and interpreting it all.

Interpretation
is the problem, of course. Very likely everything the dieoffers
say about the years up until the present is true, and their projections
into the future are, I say, quite compelling. But we have seen Ehrlich's
"population bomb" turn into a bad joke, Y2K disappear
down the memory hole, and the USSR vanish in a puff of smoke. Who
could have read our present situation as short a time as five years
ago? The future is, really, unknown, and one always ends up looking
like a jackass by pretending to know it.

But
I assure you I have not done justice to the force of the data and
arguments presented by the dieoffers. They are certainly not counting
on me to advance their cause. In fact they don't even appear to
have a cause; since they say there are no doors out of the
trap the world is in. Not coal, not gas, not nuclear, not solar,
not fuel cells, not wind, not anything. The prospects for all of
these are reviewed and found wanting.

This
appears to be a singular situation calling for a singular shift
in consciousness on the part of the whole human race. Perhaps it
will come. I only have to live to be 110 or so to find out if such
a change comes before the shutdown predicted by the dieoffers or
whether the shutdown occurs at all. I just may hang around to see
how it works out.

March
18, 2003

Tom
White [send him mail] writes
from Odessa, Texas.

Tom
White Archives


     

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