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Re: SC65

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April 16, 2008 10:55PM
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174919

The End of the World as You Know It
…and the Rise of the New Energy World Order

...............3. The painfully slow development of energy alternatives: It has long been evident to policymakers that new sources of energy are desperately needed to compensate for the eventual disappearance of existing fuels as well as to slow the buildup of climate-changing "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere. In fact, wind and solar power have gained significant footholds in some parts of the world. A number of other innovative energy solutions have already been developed and even tested out in university and corporate laboratories. But these alternatives, which now contribute only a tiny percentage of the world's net fuel supply, are simply not being developed fast enough to avert the multifaceted global energy catastrophe that lies ahead.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, renewable fuels, including wind, solar, and hydropower (along with "traditional" fuels like firewood and dung), supplied but 7.4% of global energy in 2004; biofuels added another 0.3%. Meanwhile, fossil fuels -- oil, coal, and natural gas -- supplied 86% percent of world energy, nuclear power another 6%. Based on current rates of development and investment, the DoE offers the following dismal projection: In 2030, fossil fuels will still account for exactly the same share of world energy as in 2004. The expected increase in renewables and biofuels is so slight -- a mere 8.1% -- as to be virtually meaningless.

In global warming terms, the implications are nothing short of catastrophic: Rising reliance on coal (especially in China, India, and the United States) means that global emissions of carbon dioxide are projected to rise by 59% over the next quarter-century, from 26.9 billion metric tons to 42.9 billion tons. The meaning of this is simple. If these figures hold, there is no hope of averting the worst effects of climate change.

When it comes to global energy supplies, the implications are nearly as dire. To meet soaring energy demand, we would need a massive influx of alternative fuels, which would mean equally massive investment -- in the trillions of dollars -- to ensure that the newest possibilities move rapidly from laboratory to full-scale commercial production; but that, sad to say, is not in the cards. Instead, the major energy firms (backed by lavish U.S. government subsidies and tax breaks) are putting their mega-windfall profits from rising energy prices into vastly expensive (and environmentally questionable) schemes to extract oil and gas from Alaska and the Arctic, or to drill in the deep and difficult waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The result? A few more barrels of oil or cubic feet of natural gas at exorbitant prices (with accompanying ecological damage), while non-petroleum alternatives limp along pitifully.

4. A steady migration of power and wealth from energy-deficit to energy-surplus nations: There are few countries -- perhaps a dozen altogether -- with enough oil, gas, coal, and uranium (or some combination thereof) to meet their own energy needs and provide significant surpluses for export. Not surprisingly, such states will be able to extract increasingly beneficial terms from the much wider pool of energy-deficit nations dependent on them for vital supplies of energy. These terms, primarily of a financial nature, will result in growing mountains of petrodollars being accumulated by the leading oil producers, but will also include political and military concessions.

In the case of oil and natural gas, the major energy-surplus states can be counted on two hands. Ten oil-rich states possess 82.2% of the world's proven reserves. In order of importance, they are: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Russia, Libya, Kazakhstan, and Nigeria. The possession of natural gas is even more concentrated. Three countries -- Russia, Iran, and Qatar -- harbor an astonishing 55.8% of the world supply. All of these countries are in an enviable position to cash in on the dramatic rise in global energy prices and to extract from potential customers whatever political concessions they deem important.

The transfer of wealth alone is already mind-boggling. The oil-exporting countries collected an estimated $970 billion from the importing countries in 2006, and the take for 2007, when finally calculated, is expected to be far higher. A substantial fraction of these dollars, yen, and euros have been deposited in "sovereign-wealth funds" (SWFs), giant investment accounts owned by the oil states and deployed for the acquisition of valuable assets around the world. In recent months, the Persian Gulf SWFs have been taking advantage of the financial crisis in the United States to purchase large stakes in strategic sectors of its economy. In November 2007, for example, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) acquired a $7.5 billion stake in Citigroup, America's largest bank holding company; in January, Citigroup sold an even larger share, worth $12.5 billion, to the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) and several other Middle Eastern investors, including Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. The managers of ADIA and KIA insist that they do not intend to use their newly-acquired stakes in Citigroup and other U.S. banks and corporations to influence U.S. economic or foreign policy, but it is hard to imagine that a financial shift of this magnitude, which can only gain momentum in the decades ahead, will not translate into some form of political leverage.

In the case of Russia, which has risen from the ashes of the Soviet Union as the world's first energy superpower, it already has. Russia is now the world's leading supplier of natural gas, the second largest supplier of oil, and a major producer of coal and uranium. Though many of these assets were briefly privatized during the reign of Boris Yeltsin, President Vladimir Putin has brought most of them back under state control -- in some cases, by exceedingly questionable legal means. He then used these assets in campaigns to bribe or coerce former Soviet republics on Russia's periphery reliant on it for the bulk of their oil and gas supplies. European Union countries have sometimes expressed dismay at Putin's tactics, but they, too, are dependent on Russian energy supplies, and so have learned to mute their protests to accommodate growing Russian power in Eurasia. Consider Russia a model for the new energy world order.

5. A growing risk of conflict: Throughout history, major shifts in power have normally been accompanied by violence -- in some cases, protracted violent upheavals. Either states at the pinnacle of power have struggled to prevent the loss of their privileged status, or challengers have fought to topple those at the top of the heap. Will that happen now? Will energy-deficit states launch campaigns to wrest the oil and gas reserves of surplus states from their control -- the Bush administration's war in Iraq might already be thought of as one such attempt -- or to eliminate competitors among their deficit-state rivals?

The high costs and risks of modern warfare are well known and there is a widespread perception that energy problems can best be solved through economic means, not military ones. Nevertheless, the major powers are employing military means in their efforts to gain advantage in the global struggle for energy, and no one should be deluded on the subject. These endeavors could easily enough lead to unintended escalation and conflict.

One conspicuous use of military means in the pursuit of energy is obviously the regular transfer of arms and military-support services by the major energy-importing states to their principal suppliers. Both the United States and China, for example, have stepped up their deliveries of arms and equipment to oil-producing states like Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan in Africa and, in the Caspian Sea basin, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The United States has placed particular emphasis on suppressing the armed insurgency in the vital Niger Delta region of Nigeria, where most of the country's oil is produced; Beijing has emphasized arms aid to Sudan, where Chinese-led oil operations are threatened by insurgencies in both the South and Darfur.

Russia is also using arms transfers as an instrument in its efforts to gain influence in the major oil- and gas-producing regions of the Caspian Sea basin and the Persian Gulf. Its urge is not to procure energy for its own use, but to dominate the flow of energy to others. In particular, Moscow seeks a monopoly on the transportation of Central Asian gas to Europe via Gazprom's vast pipeline network; it also wants to tap into Iran's mammoth gas fields, further cementing Russia's control over the trade in natural gas.

The danger, of course, is that such endeavors, multiplied over time, will provoke regional arms races, exacerbate regional tensions, and increase the danger of great-power involvement in any local conflicts that erupt. History has all too many examples of such miscalculations leading to wars that spiral out of control. Think of the years leading up to World War I. In fact, Central Asia and the Caspian today, with their multiple ethnic disorders and great-power rivalries, bear more than a glancing resemblance to the Balkans in the years leading up to 1914.

What this adds up to is simple and sobering: the end of the world as you've known it. In the new, energy-centric world we have all now entered, the price of oil will dominate our lives and power will reside in the hands of those who control its global distribution.

In this new world order, energy will govern our lives in new ways and on a daily basis................

Afganistan and Iraq have been occupied by the US for reason's specifically related to access and control of energy. Any wonder why nuts like McBush, with his marching orders from the real power players ( like the Bilderbergs ) is hell bent on making Iran the new Bogey Man, therefore ripe ( propangandized US public acceptance ) for US attacks or other control measures. You see above how high Iran rates in energy ( oil and gas ). Number two in both catagories. The US will seek to foist its ambitions on Iran, again for energy reasons. The Smoke and Mirrors, Dog and Pony Show from the elites, as delivered through their mouthpieces of corporate controlled media will try to convince you otherwise ( that none of it is about energy controll at all ), but the truth of the matter is that the US is diving into a dark Black Hole of energy scarcity. The massive US economy will is grinding to a halt, and will move soon into a negative growth paradigm, and it could occur in cataclysmic fashion. Its of great concern to ponder the possibilities of just what the massive US Industrial Complex and their 10,000 or so nukes will seek to foist ( as US policies and actions ) on the rest of the world ( and eventually even the US citizens as well as things degrade ), as the energy equation for the US goes from the tuff times we are now experiencing, on to the excelerating downward slide that the post peak of many essential resources ( oil and gas included ) will precipitate. A light at the end of this grim tunnel is no where to be seen.
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