• 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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