Former Cheney aide now lobbyist for energy firms

April 26, 2004 at 9:45 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Folks,

Now that Cheney’s refusal to release any records about his secret energy task force is about to reach the Supreme Court, the media is finally giving some attention to the closed-door shenanigans that are putting us on a fast track to greater dependence on energy companies, foreign oil, nuclear power, environment-destroying coal plants, and taking us farther and farther away from domestic, renewable, energy independence.

So here is a classic example of how it happens: via the revolving door between government and the energy industry. I doubt that the television media will give this story more than passing mention, so here’s a fairly detailed article on it. It’s good material to know.

–C

(more…)

Krugman – What Went Wrong?

April 25, 2004 at 11:11 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

This Krugman article about our failed adventure in Iraq is exceptionally pithy. Highly recommended.

–C

What Went Wrong?

By Paul Krugman

The New York Times

Friday 23 April 2004

    In April 11 of last year, just after U.S. forces took Baghdad, I warned that the Bush administration had a “pattern of conquest followed by malign neglect,” and that the same was likely to happen in Iraq. I’m sorry to say those worries proved justified.

    It’s now widely accepted that the administration “failed dismally to prepare for the security and nation-building missions in Iraq,” to quote Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies – not heretofore known as a Bush basher. Just as experts on peacekeeping predicted before the war, the invading force was grossly inadequate to maintain postwar security. And this problem was compounded by a chain of blunders: doing nothing to stop the postwar looting, disbanding the Iraqi Army, canceling local elections, appointing an interim council dominated by exiles with no political base and excluding important domestic groups.

    The lesson of the last few weeks is that the occupation has never recovered from those early errors. The insurgency, which began during those early months of chaos, has spread. Iraqi security forces have walked off their jobs, or turned against us. Attacks on convoys have multiplied, major roads have been closed, and reconstruction has slowed where it hasn’t stopped. Deteriorating security prevents progress, lack of progress feeds popular disillusionment, and disillusionment feeds the insurgency.

    Why was it predictable that Iraq would go wrong? The squandered victory in Afghanistan was an obvious precedent. But the character flaws in the Bush administration that led to the present crisis were fully visible in the months that followed 9/11.

    It quickly became apparent that President Bush, while willing to spend vast sums on the military, wasn’t willing to spend enough on security. And 9/11 didn’t shake the administration’s fanatical commitment to privatization and outsourcing, in which free-market ideology is inextricably mixed with eagerness to protect and reward corporate friends.

    Sure enough, the administration was unprepared for predictable security problems in Iraq, but moved quickly – in violation of international law – to impose its economic vision. Last month Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator of Iraq, told the BBC that he was sacked in part because he wanted to hold quick elections. His superiors wanted to privatize Iraqi industries first ? as part of a plan that, according to Mr. Garner, was drawn up in late 2001.

    Meanwhile, the administration handed out contracts without competitive bidding or even minimal oversight. It also systematically blocked proposals to have Congressional auditors oversee spending, or to impose severe penalties for fraud.

    Cronyism and corruption are major factors in Iraq’s downward spiral. This week the public radio program “Marketplace” is running a series titled “The Spoils of War,” which documents a level of corruption in Iraq worse than even harsh critics had suspected. The waste of money, though it may run into the billions, is arguably the least of it ? though military expenses are now $4.7 billion a month. The administration, true to form,is trying to hide the need for more money until after the election; Mr. Cordesman predicts that Iraq will need “in excess of $50-70 billion a year for probably two fiscal years.”

    More important, the “Marketplace” report confirms what is being widely reported: that the common view in Iraq is that members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council are using their positions to enrich themselves, and that U.S. companies are doing the same. President Bush’s idealistic language may be persuasive to Americans, but many Iraqis see U.S. forces as there to back a corrupt regime, not democracy.

    Now what? There’s a growing sense of foreboding, even panic, about Iraq among national security experts. “This is an extremely uncertain struggle,” says Mr. Cordesman, who, to his credit, also says the unsayable: we may not be able to “stay the course.” But yesterday Condoleezza Rice gave Republican lawmakers what Senator Rick Santorum called “a very upbeat report.”

    That’s very bad news. The mess in Iraq was created by officials who believed what they wanted to believe, and ignored awkward facts. It seems they have learned nothing.

Recent articles on Peak Oil

April 25, 2004 at 2:21 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Folks,

Articles about Peak Oil are suddenly popping up all over. Here are a couple of selections.
(more…)

Saudi – Bush Ties Update

April 25, 2004 at 2:11 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

The 9-11 investigation has finally yielded what the Bush administration has feared all along: a public awareness of our deadly embrace with the Saudis. It’s no longer, as I have called it before, a giant pink elephant in the living room that no one will acknowledge. As Bob Woodward revealed in his smash new book, Plan of Attack, Prince Bandar, aka “Bandar Bush” was advised of Bush’s plans to invade Iraq and take out Saddam even before Colin Powell was, and well before it was admitted to the public. (Indeed, Bush was claiming that Afghanistan was the focus at the time.)

Finally, the public is becoming aware that the Saudis are central to our problems with energy, Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and much more. Woodward reported that the Saudis were intentionally closing the tap a little to drive up prices, then would open it to lower prices just before the election. Finally, the public is becoming aware of the leverage that the Saudis have over oil prices, which then has a cascade effect on all of our commerce and industry. Finally, the public is thinking about the fact that the vast majority of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and indirectly funded by our money–paid to the Saudis in return for their oil.

Here are two recent articles on the Saudi-Bush connections that are worth reading.

First is a very good, very brief summary of some of the key facts:

The Royal Business
By James Ridgeway

The Village Voice

Thursday 22 April 2004

Go to Original


Next is a look at the Carlyle Group, and its close ties to the administration and the Saudis:

Pipeline Plan Leads Back to High-profile Investing Group

By Robert Trigaux
St. Petersburg Times

Monday 19 April 2004

Go to Original

And if you haven’t read them already, you might find these past GRL articles on the Saudis worthwhile.

–C

Jane\’s Foreign Report: \"World oil crisis looms\"

April 22, 2004 at 10:18 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

It’s Earth Day! How appropriate, then, to rediscover all the flaws of Bush’s energy policy, from allowing mercury emissions to increase, to the Bush team’s political manipulations of world oil prices, to the problem of the impending oil crisis, which has now been confirmed by Jane’s.

When Jane’s confirms a story, you can, as Rumsfeld might say, “take it to the bank.” Jane’s is a worldwide, highly respected and authoritative source. And they’re quoting the “newspaper of record,” The New York Times, about Shell’s restatement of their reserves. As I have written here earlier, it’s a shame that Shell got beaten up so badly for coming clean about their reserves, because it is putting a chilling effect on all the rest of the oil producers who need to own up, too.

Anybody who still isn’t quite sure about the Peak Oil problem ought to take notice.
(All I have here is the excerpt from FTW…is anybody out there a Jane’s subscriber?)

Meanwhile, Bob Woodward’s charges, that Saudi Arabia has pledged to increase oil production and lower prices just before the election as a favor to Bush, hang in the air like an egg fart, still unanswered by Bush four days later…although it took his team mere seconds to begin their campaign of character assassination against Woodward. As reported in numerous sources, including this Daily Mislead, the close ties between the Bush and Saud families are finally being examined in the media. Woodward’s book has done much to bring all of this to the attention of the public. I’m sure that regular readers of GRL were not surprised to learn that Prince Bandar, or “Bandar Bush,” knew about the Iraq invasion plan before Colin Powell did. But hopefully the rest of America may now start to see the real dynamics of power in the White House.

–C

World oil crisis looms


Go to original (subscriber content)

21 April 2004

The oil industry has been
gripped by scandal since Royal Dutch/Shell twice this year downgraded its proven
oil reserves by 20 per cent, or nearly 4bn barrels. Shell may not be alone.


Other companies and even governments have hyped up
the estimates of how much oil they have, which is a vital factor in measuring
their economic health. If exaggeration proves to be widespread, it would have an
immense impact on the Middle East, whose economic weight is almost totally
dependent on oil and natural gas.


Geologists and analysts have been saying for some
time that estimates of global oil reserves may be dangerously exaggerated. If
you take oil prices currently at around US$37 a barrel, the highest for nearly
15 years, US petrol prices at record levels and you add terrorist attacks and
diminishing supplies, you have a recipe for inflation and economic slowdown. The
question of reserves becomes a much more important factor.


Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that
internal documents and other data indicated that Shell had over estimated its
proven oil reserves in Oman by as much as 40 per cent. But that seems to have
been done because everyone hoped that the latest drilling techniques would reach
more deposits than in the past and merit upgrading the estimates of
reserves.


The Oman estimates were based on assessments made in
May 2000 by a senior Shell executive who was subsequently fired. He was among
several executives who were said to have known about the unrealistic estimates
of reserves and to have done nothing about it.


If the exaggeration is confirmed, the estimate of
recoverable oil will have to be lowered. That is bad news for Oman, which claims
reserves of 5.4bn barrels and is heavily dependent on oil and gas exports but it
is also bad news for the world as a whole.


As the world’s natural resources shrink and global
warming changes the environment, competition for unimpeded access to them has
intensified and will continue to do so. About four-fifths of the world’s known
oil reserves lie in politically unstable or contested regions.


351 of 810
words
[End of Jane’s non-subscriber
extract.]


http://www.janes.com/business/news/fr/fr040421_1_n.shtml

Trust, Don\’t Verify

April 20, 2004 at 6:01 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

This is an article I’ve been waiting for someone to write. While Dubya follows Karl Rove’s prescription for success, constantly reinforcing his “conviction” and “credibility” regardless of how his position bears up against reality, the rest of us are left to scratch our heads and wonder what planet Bush is living on. Most sensible people, having discovered that what they’re doing is wrong-headed, will stop doing it, not insist that doing it is right because it’s consistent and because they mean what they say. He would do well to remember the First Rule of Holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.

This article explores several instances of how Bush seems unaware that his view of the world is at growing variance with external reality. But he wants us to know that we can count on him to remain unaware. Good stuff.

–C


Trust, Don’t Verify

Bush’s incredible definition of credibility.
By William Saletan

Slate Magazine

Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004, at 3:27 AM PTOne thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.

That’s the summation President Bush delivered as he wrapped up his press conference Tuesday night. It’s the message he emphasized throughout: Our commitment. Our pledge. Our word. My conviction. Given the stakes in Iraq and the war against terrorism, it would be petty to poke fun at Bush for calling credibility “incredibly important.” His routine misuse of the word “incredible,” while illiterate, is harmless. His misunderstanding of the word “credible,” however, isn’t harmless. It’s catastrophic.

To Bush, credibility means that you keep saying today what you said yesterday, and that you do today what you promised yesterday. “A free Iraq will confirm to a watching world that America’s word, once given, can be relied upon,” he argued Tuesday night. When the situation is clear and requires pure courage, this steadfastness is Bush’s most useful trait. But when the situation is unclear, Bush’s notion of credibility turns out to be dangerously unhinged. The only words and deeds that have to match are his. No correspondence to reality is required. Bush can say today what he said yesterday, and do today what he promised yesterday, even if nothing he believes about the rest of the world is true.

Outside Bush’s head, his statements keep crashing into reality. Tuesday night, ABC’s Terry Moran reminded him, “Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq: that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers; that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, ‘We know where they are.’ How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong?”

Inside Bush’s head, however, all is peaceful. “The oil revenues, they’re bigger than we thought they would be,” Bush boasted to Moran, evidently unaware that this heightened the mystery of why the revenues weren’t covering the reconstruction. As to the WMD, Bush said the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq had confirmed that Iraq was “hiding things. A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught.” See the logic? A country that hides something must be afraid of getting caught, and a country afraid of getting caught must be hiding something. Each statement validates the other, sparing Bush the need to find the WMD.

Bush does occasionally cite other people’s statements to support his credibility. Saddam Hussein “was a threat to the region. He was a threat to the United States,” Bush told Moran. “That’s … the assessment that Congress made from the intelligence. That’s the exact same assessment that the United Nations Security Council made with the intelligence.” Actually, the Security Council didn’t say Iraq was a threat to the United States, but never mind. The more fundamental problem with Bush’s appeal to prewar assessments by Congress and the Security Council is that these assessments weren’t reality. They were attempts—not even independent attempts, since the administration heavily lobbied both bodies—to approximate reality. When they turned out not to match reality, members of Congress (including Republicans) and the Security Council (including U.S. allies) repudiated them.

Not Bush. He’s impervious to evidence. “I look forward to hearing the truth as to exactly where [the WMD] are,” he told Time‘s John Dickerson at the press conference. A year after Saddam’s ouster and four months after Saddam’s capture, Bush continued to insist that “people who should know about weapons” are still “worried about getting killed, and therefore they’re not going to talk. … We’ll find out the truth about the weapons at some point.” You can agree or disagree with this theory. But you can’t falsify it.

Bush doesn’t see the problem. He’s too preoccupied with self-consistency to notice whether he’s consistent with anything else. “I thought it was important for the United Nations Security Council that when it says something, it means something,” he told Moran. “The United Nations passed a Security Council resolution unanimously that said, ‘Disarm or face serious consequences.’ And [Saddam] refused to disarm.” Never mind that the Security Council didn’t see what Bush saw in terms of Iraqi disarmament and didn’t mean what Bush meant in terms of serious consequences. Never mind that this difference in perception was so vast that Bush ducked a second Security Council vote on a use-of-force resolution. What’s important is that when the Security Council says something, it must mean something, even if the something the council said isn’t the something Bush meant.

As Tuesday night’s questions turned to the 9/11 investigation, Bush retreated again to the incontrovertible truths in his head. “There was nobody in our government, at least, and I don’t think [in] the prior government, that could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale,” he told NBC’s David Gregory. Never mind that somebody who had worked in Bush’s administration and the prior administration—namely, counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke—had raised precisely this concern about the 1996 Olympics. Never mind that the president’s daily intelligence brief on Aug. 6, 2001—titled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in U.S.“—had warned Bush, “FBI information since [1998] indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” These were external phenomena and therefore irrelevant. What mattered was that Bush couldn’t “envision” the scenario.

Three times, Bush repeated the answer he gave to Edwin Chen of the Los Angeles Times: “Had there been a threat that required action by anybody in the government, I would have dealt with it.” Outside Bush’s head, the statement was patently false: The 9/11 threat required action, and Bush failed to deal with it. But inside Bush’s head, the statement was tautological: If there were a threat that required action, Bush would have dealt with it; Bush didn’t deal with it; therefore, there was no threat that required action. The third time Bush repeated this answer—in response to a question about whether he owed an “apology to the American people for failing them prior to 9/11″—he added, “The person responsible for the attacks was Osama Bin Laden.” This is how Bush’s mind works: Only a bad person can bear responsibility for a bad thing. I am a good person. Therefore, I bear no responsibility.

On 9/11, as on WMD, Bush mistakes affirmation for verification, description for reality, and words for deeds. “I was dealing with terrorism a lot as the president when George Tenet came in to brief me,” he told Chen. “I wanted Tenet in the Oval Office all the time. And we had briefings about terrorist threats.” This was Bush’s notion of dealing with terrorism: being briefed by the CIA director. The world that mattered was the Oval Office.

Did the briefings lead to action outside the office? No, because there was no “threat that required action.” What about the Aug. 6 brief? “I asked for the briefing,” Bush told Chen. “And that’s what triggered the [Aug. 6] report.” Tuesday’s Washington Post tells a different story: “According to senior intelligence officials familiar with the document, work on it began at the end of July, at the initiative of the CIA analyst [who] wanted to raise the issue” of Bin Laden’s threat to the U.S. mainland. But Bush can’t believe that someone outside his head was trying to tell him something. He’s certain he “triggered” the brief. That’s why, as he explained to Chen, he “didn’t think there was anything new” in it: He assumed it was his idea. He doesn’t understand that the point of a briefing is to be told something you hadn’t already thought of.

This explains the most amazing part of Bush’s answer to Chen: “What was interesting in [the brief] was that there was a report that the FBI was conducting field investigations. And that was good news, that they were doing their job.” Here is a president who reads that the FBI has found “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijacking” and concludes that all is well because the FBI is “investigating” such activity. Why does Bush make this mistake? Because he doesn’t understand that the “suspicious activity” is the subject of the brief. He thinks the “investigations” are the subject. He thinks he’s being told about his version of reality—the world inside his administration—not the world of plots beyond his awareness.

How does Bush square his obtuseness to the threat from Bin Laden with his obtuseness to the absence of a threat from Saddam? “After 9/11, the world changed for me,” he explained Tuesday night. That’s Bush in a nutshell: The world changed for him. Out went the assumption of safety, and in came the assumption of peril. In the real world, Bin Laden was still a religious fanatic with global reach, and Saddam was still a secular tyrant boxed in by sanctions and no-fly zones. But in Bush’s head, everything changed.

To many Americans, the gap between Bush’s statements about the months before 9/11, on the one hand, and the emerging evidence about those months, on the other, raises doubts about the credibility of their government. To other nations, the gap between Bush’s statements about Iraqi weapons, on the one hand, and the emerging evidence about those weapons, on the other, has become the central reason to distrust the United States in other matters of enormous consequence, such as North Korea’s nuclear program.

To all of this, however, Bush is blind. He doesn’t measure his version of the world against anybody else’s. He measures his version against itself. He says the same thing today that he said yesterday. That’s why, when he was asked Tuesday whether he felt any responsibility for failing to stop the 9/11 plot, he kept shrugging that “the country”—not the president—wasn’t on the lookout. It’s also why, when he was asked to name his biggest mistake since 9/11, he insisted, “Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons [not found in Iraq], I still would’ve called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein.” Bush believes now what he believed then. Incredible, but true.

William Saletan is Slate’s chief political correspondent and author of Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War.

Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2098810/

Things Are Looking Up

April 17, 2004 at 4:44 pm
Contributed by:

Howdy
folks,

 

My
goodness, it’s been five weeks since I last published on GRL. Sigh. I wish I had
unlimited time to read and write about all this stuff. I feel badly for just
letting GRL languish for so long. But my work has taken center stage–as I knew
all along it would eventually have to do, being that I survive on commission in
a difficult, emerging business–and what little energy I have left is spent on
keeping up with the inflow of information that comes to me. I have now given up
on the idea that one day I will return and sift through the 3″ stack of printed
articles I have read in the last five weeks, in order to bring you the best
of it. I am trusting that you subscribe to the Progress Report and Truthout
(at minimum) and read them religiously to stay abreast of events.

 

I am
tempted–sorely tempted–to take on the subjects of the 9-11 investigation, and
the doomed and illegitimate adventure in Iraq, and our deadly embrace with Saudi
Arabia, and Peak Oil, and Medicare, and the economy, and all the rest of it. But
there just isn’t time for all that. Suffice to say that, although the media
still only demonstrates the courage to run out and shoot the wounded, it is,
however weakly, starting to take on these subjects and open them up to public
debate a little, and I take heart in that. My job as publisher of an energy and
politics blog has gotten a little less urgent. I’m no longer a voice in the
wilderness. Those topics are finally on the public’s
radar.  

 

But
today I stole a few moments to make a few more pages’ progress on a couple of
longer things I’m reading. One is Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing
Consent
, which I left off at halfway right around January, when I went to
work building GRL. I picked it back up at the chapter on Vietnam, and the first
10 pages or so that I read were so utterly applicable to the situation in
Iraq that it was stunning, even though I’ve long noticed the parallels. It
seemed appropriate to talk about it now that Sen. Edward Kennedy is being slowly
roasted in the mainstream press for having the temerity to point them out. Using
the device of analyzing the media according to the “propaganda model” that the
authors set forth at the beginning of the book, they point out how the
entire premise of the Vietnam war was never really given an open debate;
instead, the elites assumed as a priori that the American cause was
noble and just and our eminent responsibility to mankind, and limited the
subsequent debate to questions such as whether we were sufficiently committed to
our cause, or whether the media were too “pessimistic” in their coverage, or
even indeed whether the media were ultimately to blame for the failure of the
American “intervention.” And like Iraq, the entire question of how the
indigenous culture might respond, or how well the American model of democracy
might be exported there, was never allowed the light of day. All critics of the
“intervention” were marginalized and never allowed to participate in the major
debates that the media did cover, and were disparaged as unpatriotic.

 

Iraq
is the same old, same old, of American foreign policy. Our “national interests”
and our “values” are assumed to be right and just and deserving of defense and
export, in any place in the world where we deem it necessary or desirable. That
much is never open to discussion. Which in itself is evidence of the overtly
macho culture that we prize so highly. America Uber Alles, and anybody
who doesn’t think so, and toe the national line at all times, is just a
damned no-good Commie pussy.  

 

Then I dove into a couple more pages of an
excellent article in The Sun, my
favorite magazine (I’ve been a dedicated subscriber for at least 15 years). From
the February 2004 issue, “Biting The Hand That Feeds – How Globalization
Cripples Small Farms” is an interview with Vandana Shiva, an author and leader
in the “social -justice and ecology movements.” God bless ’em, you can read the
first 7 pages of it right here, but not, unfortunately, the whole thing,
which is really where it gets juicy: 
http://www.thesunmagazine.org/338_Shiva.pdf 
(Caution: PDF file)

 

On page 8 they talk about her book Stolen
Harvest
where she discusses the “masculinization of agriculture,” where
it moved out of the domain of women and sustenance and into “patriarchal
control.” Basically, she points out that by allowing raw capital (in the
form of corporate foreign investment, or outright takeover, under the rubric of
“globalization”) to take control of global agriculture, the natural capital
inherent in plant genetics, and in time-honored local agricultural techniques
developed over millennia by women in pursuit of their own best
nutrition and social values, has been subsumed and largely destroyed by
corporate entities and patriarchal control. India’s own basmati rice was
successfully patented by a US firm, so India has lost control of it and had
their own farming turned monocultural through globalized markets. Likewise, the
natural resources such as water that were once considered to be part of the
commons, have been taken over by large foreign corporations who divert rivers
and build dams and destroy the local agriculture, then when the bottom drops out
of the market, they leave and take their marbles with them…leaving an epidemic
of suicides in their wake (20,000 among Indian peasant farmers in the last five
years). Bechtel took over the water supply of Cochabamba, Bolivia, leading to a
peasant revolt in which the activists were silenced and killed by government
forces. The public eventually won out, but the harassment and lawsuits continue.
(I’m not doing her justice here–pick up a copy and read the whole article
yourself, or check out some of her 50 books.)

 

This is a familiar story too: we’ve seen it happen over
and over again throughout the Third World. But we never question the basic
assumptions of globalization, or try to account for the lost natural capital of
human knowledge, naturally evolved genetics, or the local physical and cultural
means of sustainability that have evolved naturally over millennia in every
place in the globe. Those are unrecognized on the balance sheet–and they have
everything to do with what’s right, and what’s wrong, about our entire
way of life.

 

Capital markets require endless growth, and that
requires the continual conversion of natural capital into hard, liquid capital,
which would not be possible if it were done while respecting the dynamics and
rights of natural capital. And capital markets are well on their way to taking
control of the entire world.

 

This is why I believe that the entire legal fiction of
a corporation must be destroyed. It is through this legal fiction that the
self-centered and rapacious desires of men are converted into blameless,
nameless, faceless, unprosecutable entities that serve their masters while
keeping them immune to the costs of their consumption.

 

Likewise, the masculinization of all of our
enterprises, especially that of agriculture, must end. We need an
entire–forgive the use of the term–paradigm shift into a more feminine
sensibility that is concerned less with short-term profit and more with
sustainability.

 

Fat chance, you say? Well, you know that I believe in
the reality of the Peak
Oil problem
, the climate
change problem
, and the global population problem. These
three factors are going to come together as a perfect storm right around 2050,
the year when a) most of the available and cheap oil and gas will have been
consumed globally, b) the climate change problem will be wreaking global havoc,
and c) the global population is projected to reach 9 billion. I tell ya, I’m not
sure I would want to live long enough to see 2050. It’s going to be uuuuuuuugly
boys and girls. Don’t turn away, and don’t roll your eyes at me. I don’t want to
bum you out, any more than I want to be bummed out. We’ve got to get past all
that, and start taking a cold, hard look at just what in the hell is going on
here.

 

Here’s what’s going on here: the masculine ideals of
Man–dominance, profit, control–are in their heyday. This is the top of the
roller coaster. If you’re not throwing your hands up in the air and going
“Whee!” right now, then you’re going to be severely disappointed by what’s next.
It’s all downhill from here.

 

Even if all of these projections are wrong, and even if
humanity starts making a very concerted effort to contain its growth and its
consumption and find a sustainable point of balance, it’s highly unlikely that
it will be a smooth transition. Lots of people will die. It will be a very bumpy
ride.

 

Here’s the simple truth: Globalization, and the
concentrations of power that make up the modern world, have been made possible
by cheap transportation fueled by cheap oil and gas. Humanity started to
industrialize about 150 years ago. And the Industrial Age is going to be
over in about another 50. In that 150 years, our population has
exploded threefold. The whole way of life that we know, our incredible
individual wealth (when measured historically), has been the result of this
consumption. It’s a very, very, short story, but for some reason, we all seem to
believe otherwise, that somehow this is an inevitable flowering of the story of
our species, and that it will always continue to grow and flower more
bountifully. It’s hard, when you’re a small benighted human with an extremely
short attention span and little purview of history, to realize just where we
really are.

 

Things are looking up. All of these awful
problems of the modern industrial age are going to, literally, run out of
gas soon enough. And we will find ways of living within the means of our local, natural endowments. On the whole, I believe the modern world will find it a much better way of living. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that they’re not going to
give up without a fight. And global wars over fossil fuel, food, and
water will certainly be a part of that fight. The invasion of Iraq is but a
small harbinger of things to come. The Bush “oiligarchy” has
shown that it is made up of the hardest, most vicious, thumb-in-the-eye fighters around. They will
pursue their agenda at all costs. They care nothing about the truth, law,
perceptions, traditions, alliances, public benefit, or anything other than
succeeding at their objectives. They’ve largely gotten away with it so far,
and the complicit media has been reduced to asking pre-submitted, approved
questions in carefully orchestrated press conferences with a President who
almost never directly confronts the press. (And when he does, makes us all
squirm in discomfort as we realize that he literally can’t think on his feet, or
speak a complete and grammatically correct sentence, while the man who really
wears the pants in the White House, Dick Cheney, sits and grimaces behind him in
the shadows.) But as soon as gas hits
$3/gallon, which could easily happen before the
end of this summer,
the problems of
the global
energy situation will reach the public eye. And I think that
the recent polls show that the public isn’t quite as sleepy and stupid as it has
seemed to be. The slumbering beast is waking up, and it is not happy.


 

It’s an awful realization. It does really take the wind
out of you. But then you get your breath again, and you steel your resolve, and
you set out with a pick and shovel to make a new life in a new age. Either
that, or you curl up in a ball and wait to die. At least, that’s how it
looks to me. There is an undeniable, enormous volume of data that points
that way, and all there is on the other side of the argument is an unreasonable
faith in humanity and its wisdom, including the wisdom of the fiction known
as markets. I can appreciate that faith, and I know
what it’s good for. But it has shown that it’s about as useful as
teats on a boar when it comes to seeing its time aright, and foretelling the
future. It really amounts to little more than wishful thinking. And we all know
where that gets you.

 

(Many thanks to alert readers Wayne and Aaron for their
engaging discussion which prompted this little
outburst.)

 


–C

 

Further reading:

 

The
Party’s Over – Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies
by
Richard Heinberg

 

Biting The Hand That Feeds –
How Globalization Cripples Small Farms
(The Sun Magazine, February
2004)

 

Stolen
Harvest
 by Vandana Shiva

 

Population, A Lively
Introduction
(Population Reference Bureau, December 2003) (PDF
file)
Check out the chart on p. 33!

 

Global Human Population Curve (KZPG)

 

Global
energy demand to rise 54 pct by 2025-US EIA
(Reuters, April 14
2004)

Global
Climate Change and Peak OilThe Sword of
Damocles Has Two Edges
 (From the
Wilderness, April 2004)
Yes, I know the full article is for subscribers only.
So quit yer bitchin’ and subscribe. I did ask them for permission to reprint. If
I get it, I will.


Booming China’s crude oil imports soar (Reuters, April  12,
2004)
“Crude
imports in booming China, the world’s second largest oil consumer, soared
35.7 percent year on year to 30.14 million tonnes in the first
quarter of 2004.”



The evolution of America’s preemptive-strike policy (CS Monitor, March 16
2004)
About the forthcoming book, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War
Cabinet
, about the 30-year history of Bush’s cabinet and how “this elite
group led them to overhaul America’s national security strategy to one
advocating sole, preemptive action based on America’s superpower
status.”

 

About the forthcoming book by journalist Bob Woodward,
Plan of Attack

Heinberg, Richard – The Party’s Over

April 17, 2004 at 4:35 pm
Contributed by: Chris


The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies

by Richard Heinberg


An excellent and well-researched book on the realities of Peak Oil, overpopulation, and unsustainable economics. I can’t recommended it highly enough. Should be required reading for every college freshman in my opinion. Packed with enough charts and data to make it worthy of your reference shelf, yet lively and empathetic enough to make the subject accessible to all.


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