Well, the Eastern World, it is exploding…
The Financial Times leads today with the headline “Drive on biofuels risks oil price surge” “Opec chief warns costs could go ‘through roof’” The group warned that it would curtail investment in developing new sources of oil, creating scarcity levels like we’re seeing with uranium today. Parenthetically, Opec’s very existence belies arguments by freemarket types and the President that oil’s price is not one that can be controlled by anything other than market forces.
As I read the, I asked myself ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ The chicken in this case being the Decider’s hand-in-hand stroll through the Crawford Ramble with his Saudi Prince, or his irrationally provocative State of the Union speech where he singled out “Middle Eastern oil” producers as a threat to our ‘energy security’, and said America must find ways to end its “addiction” to their junk.
Was the romantic interlude a make-up kiss? Or was it an advance warning to his friend that he would embark on damning rhetoric, but in his heart of hearts he didn’t mean it?
Besides a few lower-level diplomatic protests, there was no palpable fallout from his provocations – until now.
It’s important to realize that petroleum production has been essentially flat for a few years, as some major fields have dried up while new ones prove harder to harvest. Peak oil theorists will tell you the planet has dried up and that our next phase will be bitumen extraction from oil sands and shale (as they do in Canada now). Others argue that “liberals” have stymied exploration and source development for so long that it was inevitable the producing areas would stop producing and we’d be where we are now.
We alienate our “allies” in the Middle East. Wahabists are a bomb blast away from owning Saudi Arabia and really causing disruption to the oil supply. Nigeria is an ethnic cleansing train wreck about to crash, and our other major oil supplier, Angola, fights its own humanitarian issues.
None of this really matters when you consider the big picture: we are screwed, and a stupid, short sighted energy policy has gotten us here.
Consider the condition called CCD that is wiping out our honeybee populations. While there is precedent for bee die-offs (and with luck they will bounce back as they have in the past), the real, here and now consequence is that a lot of food won’t grow in the US because fruits and nuts simply don’t get pollinated. Luckily though, fruits and nuts are garnishes for our main foods: wheat and corn. We consume more corn than anything else, and our livestock lives on it too/
Not so fast though. The prices of corn and soybeans have gone up dramatically since the ethanol craze hit. We decided a couple years ago that we’d prefer cheap driving to cheap eating, so the competition for corn has gotten intense between food producers and distillers. We may not have enough corn to eat when we need it, because it’s being converted into whisky for our cars.
So, in order to continue driving our SUVs, we will turn to friendly neighbor Canada’s oil sands for petrol. But… Canada is already under fire for missing carbon-emissions targets and is being urged to (and very well may) restrict expansion of the Alberta oil sands. The process of converting tar to gasoline is extremely energy intensive, and short of building a nuclear reactor (which is being evaluated at this point), will certainly be curtailed as the world wakes up from the stupor of slow suicide.
Today, China, India and a few Middle Eastern and African countries have moved nuclear energy from the back burner to the front page. But we have the issue of uranium supply to deal with as well. The government flooded the uranium market with tons of scrapped warhead, drove half the mining industry out of business, and the price of the stuff up from $8 to $130 a pound. The miners are exploring and drilling at full tilt once again, but it will take time to ease the metal’s deficit, yet demand continues to rise every day. The US is the only major energy consumer that hasn’t already started construction of new reactors, and we will certainly pay the price for that as we spew garbage into the air and bury CO2 underground in mad schemes to “offset”.
Disposing of nuclear waste is the least of our problems at the moment. There are plenty of uninhabitable places we could dump it with little consequence, it’s only a matter of price.
But the President goes to the G8 summit with one goal: to provoke Russia. Reigniting the Cold War is an incredibly ham-handed, transparent political haymaker, done as though America needs a new boogeyman or mortal enemy to fear. Placing missiles in Europe is needlessly provocative when we have more than enough warhead capacity zipping around at 20,000 leagues under the sea. The only possible justification I can imagine for this kind of alienation of an erstwhile ally is pure politicking; a revival of a Red Menace. I hope Putin doesn’t fall for it.
Or maybe the Iraq conflict hasn’t been lucrative enough for the military-industrial complex. IEDs don’t do enough damage to men and materiel to make this war profitable enough. We need an enemy with the capacity to destroy ships and tanks so we can enjoy the windfall of a real war economy. The question is, of course, can we fight a war right now? Iraq has been like a wasps nest, wasps stinging everybody in uniform. Our military is exhausted and overextended, hobbled by little wounds. There is no enemy, there are no Battles of the Bulge, there is no “victory”. Iraq is a war of attrition as Vietnam was, and we’re losing because there is no way to win.
Congress declined to fund the FDA’s food-import inspection program (for a paltry 100 million dollars), so the food suppliers we would turn to (whose honeybees are still healthy), ship us toothpaste with ethylene glycol, foods spiked with melanine “protein” and other hideous poisons.
Another pill in our national slow suicide.
The Dems in Congress roll over for the President, offering him their bellies to rub, quietly chanting “four more years”. Their contenders for the crown go to absurd lengths to prove they can out-Jesus the competition and not one of their perfectly coiffed heads allows a single global solution message to pass their perfectly capped and whitened teeth.
The Republicans are a joke. They take flip-flopping to a whole new level of absurdity as they seek to appeal to their “base”.
I’m still endorsing Kucinich for the Dems and Ron Paul for the Republicans. They are both nuts, but principled nuts who offer vision and solutions, not utterly empty base-secuding rhetoric.
A small band of home-grown jihadists plans to blow up a little-known jet fuel pipeline, level half of Queens and cost us hundreds of billions of dollars.
Osama Bin Laden said from the beginning that his goal was to bankrupt America. So far he’s doing a Heckuva Job.