The Permanent Energy Crisis – Sun Setting on Oil

Oil drill and sunThe days of petroleum profligacy are over and the world is going to have to deal with the end of unfettered fossil fuel use. Mother Jones looks intensively at peak oil (search) issues in an interview with Michael T. Klare, author of a new book entitled “Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum”. Of course there is nothing new in noting the role of oil and American dependence, but the interview captures well the depth and urgency of the crisis. How shall we house, feed and clothe ourselves in the not too distant future? We are hitting the energy limits to growth (search), and a dearth of progressive climate/energy policy means we are hitting it hard. We had best get going on developing some combination of energy conservation and renewable energy to keep the lights on.

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7 Responses

  1. Tony Harvey says:

    I believe any hope that Neo-liberal capitalism can solve the problem of climate change will prove to be utterly unfounded. To try to put this right without rectifying the clapped out global financial system is useless and environmentalists doing so will carry on coming up against a brick wall. They need to look at the way this system works and intellectually grow beyond the conditioning that economics and finance can only be understood by economists and financiers.
    Let me try to explain. The two main cornerstones of Western economies are usury and speculation. Usury in that almost all of the money in circulation has been electronically created by the commercial banks and is called by them “credit” and is lent to Governments and individuals for quick profit not for a particular motive of world betterment. Nothing moves when electronic money circulates when you use your debit card, direct debits, cheques etc and when Governments borrow money- all that happens is that one account’s data entry is debited (decremented) and another credited, (incremented). So this money can be created at negligible cost to the banks because it exists only as a data entry in the electronic bank accounts and is exchanged between them as such only. The stuff in your wallet/purse created by the Royal Mint for the Bank of England represents a tiny fraction of the ‘money’ that exists, the vast majority has originated as loans created by the commercial banks under this “fractional reserve banking system” and circulates electronically and the profit (interest) accrues to bankers not Governments. Even pretty low corporation tax is often avoided by the use of foreign tax havens, (At least £20 Billion total in the UK per annum avoided at 2003 figures- [War on Want pamphlet]). The need for the continuing increase of the assault on the world’s resources substantially stems from the imperative of “economic growth” which is necessary to keep up with the ever spiralling overall interest payments due on the explosion of different types of loans created by commercial banks and other private interests. I read that the exponential growth in private loans and private credit has been allowed to occur with all its wanton increase in the consumption of resources and debt hardship because of outsourcing by corporations of huge amounts of skilled & unskilled jobs overseas under globalisation (“corporate flight”). To make ends meet governments and individuals in most developing nations have had to be allowed to borrow more and more. I recommend the reading of the internet and books by the US professor of economics Ravi Batra who has a lot of hard hitting and extremely interesting things to say on this matter, http://www.ravibatra.com.
    I refer to the ‘cornerstone of Speculation’ in that National economies and their populations are utterly dependant on the $2 Trillion or so (equivalent) that changes hands electronically every DAY- untaxed- around the world on the “financial markets” in search of speculative quick profit unrelated to any exchange of real goods or services. Utterly dependant because National Governments create hardly any of the money that is in circulation at all as I have already explained and they need to compete to keep on attracting this privately created globally mobile electronic money which has become the lifeblood of all our economies. Financiers and corporations increasingly trade IN money not WITH money, since deregulation in the 1980s- eg Removal of foreign capital exchange controls which happened then. Why create, innovate and trade in cumbersome goods when one can make far more far quickly and with far less risk just by moving money and money instruments between computers around the world? Almost all the global financial institutions and even many corporations are at it. A “monstrous global casino” in the words of sustainable columnist Hazel Henderson. Any government that even publicly SPEAKS of restricting it, or taxing it, or significantly environmentally regulating the stock market listed business that it invests in, or getting off the absurd merry-go-round of competing with other nations to clamp down on corporation tax so as to attract essential employment and capital, or creating their OWN electronic money, or even threatening tax havens, faces economically disastrous capital flight to nations NOT doing so within hours on the trading computers on the stock markets and the derivatives computers of the international corporations and banks. You see how the financier oligarchy has got us all over a barrel? No Government dare even publicly consider democratically demanded change to the status quo. No corporation dare significantly reduce the current quick profit return to its international capital investors by SIGNIFICANT investment in alternative forms of energy & transportation as to do so invites a declining share price and capital flight to corporations not doing so. The intellectual economist Lyndon LaRouche in Executive Intelligence Review (see below) actually uses the term “Financier Oligarchy” referring to the way our ‘democracies’ are going under the economic & corporate globalisation I have already described. A POSSIBLE SOLUTION to re-establish control over international capital and corporations by electorates and governments is proposed by “The Simultaneous Policy” at http://www.simpol.org and I believe progressives might feel their strategy warrants consideration.
    Most mainstream media outlets are owned by stock market listed corporations. Does anyone believe such a corporation will allow SERIOUS debate in its pages or TV stations, of reform to the international financial system when it is this system that is the investment hand that feeds it, both owning the shares and placing the corporate adverts? Does anyone seriously believe that one example tabloid and TV/news station owning international corporation that currently pays no corporation tax in the UK by the use of tax havens will seriously allow such debate in its media outlets? I’m not suggesting columnists and editors are directly told what to say and what not to, but they know there are limits which they must not cross if they are to retain their jobs which are mostly in the form of shortish term renewable (or not) contract posts. And most of them seem never to have asked themselves what money really is, who creates it, who administers its circulation, who profits from it and why no Government of left OR right credentials strangely refuses to reinstate fair corporate taxation and environmental regulations ONCE IN POWER despite the obvious dire financial state of our public services, worsening annually, and the developed countries paltry aid to the developing ones whose populations are starving to death in their millions monthly for the want of the huge surplus of food per capita that exists worldwide (Some 10%- look up UN Statistics).
    I believe that Planet Earth’s environment is in a sad and perilous state which each day brings it nearer to the critical, and that even the most dire prophecy falls short of the calamity facing the world today, (this quote from http://www.share-international.org). Anyone who seriously believes that humanity can burn off gigantic amounts of carbon into the atmosphere daily over some 200 years (in the form of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels) that had been gradually accumulated beneath the earth over hundreds of MILLIONS of years, and while annually cutting down tens of millions of acres of atmosphere purifying tropical forests- all of this without incurring MAJOR upheaval and destruction to the earth’s life supporting natural climate systems- is conditioned and deluded indeed.
    I believe that only a total and systemic collapse of the world’s financial system will bring humanity to its senses and- (even though I know this itself would cause major trauma for a while because we have allowed stock market listed corporations to take over most food and energy production and distribution worldwide)- it is my belief and hope that this is coming to pass. (I refer again to the writings of economics professor Ravi Batra). The men of money’s selfish greed and competition is over-reaching itself at long last and the frantic efforts to prop up the system behind the scenes are at long last crumbling. “The REAL economy has fallen out from under the markets which have been artificially propped up by accounting tricks, enormous and unpayable debt loads, and mass delusion on the part of the markets and the public” (John Hoefle banking columnist, and refer also to the writings of economist’s Lyndon LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review for more information, http://www.larouchepub.com). The signs of the oncoming collapse are obvious for those who look beyond their own narrow interests and look below the surface at powerful people’s MOTIVES- not what they SAY but what they DO and WHY that might be- with objectivity. People who bother to READ & STUDY widely. Anyone who thinks that substantially unrestrained powerful people in today’s out of democratic control globalised capital/corporate world will not try to manipulate to retain and enhance their own selfish interests, and who denounces those who highlight this as “conspiracy theorists”, is deluded and conditioned indeed. They have just not reflected seriously on the sad condition of greed and fear of loss as well as Spiritual poverty and poverty of intellect that dominates the natures of most of our fellow human being financier oligarchs in power. We’ve all got some major waking up to do if we are to survive.

  2. Margaret says:

    I am not as optimistic as Klare, though his anaylsis is right on. The problem is that we have constructed an entire way of life around oil, from suburbs and exurbs, to how we produce and ship food and other consumer goods, to abandoned mass transit systems and financial crises for those that remain, and on and on.
    When addressing peak oil, we tend to focus on cars, or the point at which we put fuel into them, without realizing that the organization of society itself is in jeopardy. While we talk about the end of oil, new developments are going up everywhere, most completely oil or gas dependent, and this society has yet to indicate that it is ready to say, enough is enough.
    And since the predominant ideology identifies unfettered capitalism with freedom, what we are talking about changing is an entire societal, philosophical, values orientation.
    What is required is a far more radical change than a shift to a different kind of fuel and driving less. I recently watched the scary documentary, “The End of Suburbia.” I highly recommend it, a disturbing description of what the end of oil will mean for these maldeveloped comminities.
    There is no way that this society will be ready for the major transitions that are coming– imminently.
    I tend to agree with Kevin Phillips, who in his new book, “American Theocracy,” notes that empires built on single energy sources soar in the beginning, peak, and then fall as a society built on that energy source collapses when the source runs dry. That seems to be where we're headed.
    Whether the rest of the world is prepared to save us, i.e., humanity and the ecosystems of the planet, is another question.
    MMS at: http://ecologicalhope.wordpress.com

  3. Glenn D says:

    The U.S. was built on cheap oil. Alternative fuel's wont be cheap. The wasteful lifestyle of the West is over. Our economie, is starting to show sign's of contracting already.The simple life will be forced upon us, whether we like it or not. American's will have to adapt, they have no choice. Their are no short cut's this time, no fudging number's…. the sun is truly setting on all of us ! Welcome to the real world.

  4. zephyr says:

    …..this privately created globally mobile electronic money which has become the lifeblood of all our economies…..
    and
    …..No Government dare even publicly consider democratically demanded change to the status quo. No corporation dare significantly reduce the current quick profit return to its international capital investors by SIGNIFICANT investment in alternative forms of energy & transportation as to do so invites a declining share price and capital flight to corporations not doing so…..
    Thank you so much, Tony, for taking the time to so carefully explain the deeply-ingrained underpinnings of the “virtual global economy.”
    Everything you have written is absolutely correct. And you are right in asserting that as many of us as possible need to “READ and STUDY” widely so that we may truly understand what we're up against.
    I personally believe that it will be increasingly difficult to initiate the kinds of changes which will be necessary in order to insure the survival of future generations unless we understand that the current, out-of-control, privately-administered global financial system is designed to serve the needs of those who created it. Period.
    I will be passing your commentary along to people in my circle. I know it will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!

  5. Phil says:

    We really do need to get the USA to reduce their CO2 emissions. Our website shows that a 1% reduction in US CO2 emissions is equivalent to a 9% reduction in the UK. Obviously, it is easier to cut 1% than 9% so when is the USA going to take the lead?

  6. Start watching for headlines that are more optimistic, such as these:
    GLOBAL WARMING REVERSED!
    DIASTER AVERTED… EARTH SAVED!
    MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGES… PERMANENTLY NULLIFIED!
    Albert Einstein provided the perfect scientific answer to Global Warming in 1905 with his paradigm, mass-to-energy equation, which is the key to unlocking all of the clean, cheap, environmentally friendly energy the inhabitants of Earth will ever need, without any pollution or waste stream, and with no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse emissions.
    Even the super-powerful Energy Cartel will be unable to prevent millions of individuals around the World from freely switching to this abundant and everlasting Einsteinian cornucopia of “home-made energy,” which will automatically reestablish Mother Nature as the exclusive controller of climate change.
    http://slow-motion-Thermonuclear.blogspot.com/2006/06/invention-for-sale-slow-motion.html

  7. WaltDe says:

    Keep up the great work on your blog. Best wishes WaltDe

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