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A Peek At The Peak Oil Catastrophe

Generals and others have talked about the dangers of conflicts and/or wars being generated as resources are depleted (Natural Resource Depletion and the Changing Geopolitical Landscape).

A conflict between Vietnam and China is an example of the tensions that can arise – in this case oil is the resource (China Blames Vietnam).

But as the TIME cover shows, using the oil resources is just as dangerous, or more so, than running out of oil is –in other words it is a catch-22, a conundrum, or a no-win situation any way we choose to look at this situation that is only getting worse.

Britain and France over in Europe are facing the problem of depletion:

In just over five years Britain will have run out of oil, coal and gas, researchers have warned.

A report by the Global Sustainability Institute said shortages would increase dependency on Norway, Qatar and Russia.

There should be a “Europe-wide drive” towards wind, tidal, solar and other sources of renewable power, the institute’s Prof Victor Anderson said.

The government says complete energy independence is unnecessary, says BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin.

The report says Russia has more than 50 years of oil, more than 100 years of gas and more than 500 years of coal left, on current consumption.

‘Decisive action’

By contrast, Britain has just 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and three years of its own gas remaining.

France fares even worse, according to the report, with less than year to go before it runs out of all three fossil fuels.

(UK’s Oil, Coal and Gas). This is of course the result of a lack of vision and a fateful decision we should review, because, more of the same will not change the reality.

A while back I wrote about the historical background that enlightens us about how misguided fossil fuel expectations brought England and the rest of the world into a rut and a dangerous direction:

Long before politicians mewled helplessly about the power of “Big Oil”, carbon-based fuels were shaping our very political, legal, intellectual, and physical structures.

For instance, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a pivotal moment in America’s strategic outlook. America, a global hegemon whose empire was weakening, seized the second largest oil deposits in the world as a way of preventing its economic and political decline.

The last declining global hegemon, Great Britain, also engaged in a brutal and highly controversial British occupation of Iraq, in the 1920s, pressed aggressively by the well-known British conservative, Winston Churchill.

From the moment he arrived at the Admiralty, a young man of destiny, Churchill started to prepare the fleet for the Battle of Armageddon he believed was inevitable.

Then, in 1911, the German Kaiser provoked the Agadir crisis … Churchill went to the Admiralty and his outlook transformed. He was immediately confronted with the decisive question: to convert the navy from coal to oil … the “fateful plunge” was made … in April 1912 … five oil-burning battleships were approved.

It was the Royal Navy which was the impetus for the development of the oil industry in Britain. The problem was supply and the security of that supply. Initially, the British government purchased shares in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, subsequently, British Petroleum [BP].

Then, to prevent further disruptions, Britain enmeshed itself ever more deeply in the Middle East, working to install new shahs in Iran and carve Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.

Churchill fired the starting gun, but all of the Western powers joined the race to control Middle Eastern oil.

(Viva Egypt – 2). In hindsight, it seems unbelievably strange that civilization would fight and make war over the poisonous drug that would eventually destroy civilization.

But, it is even worse than just that, because, there have been many warnings along the way each with refusals to heed those warnings (see video below).

In fact, the U.S. is rushing headlong into the fray by continuing to use military intimidation to control resources (e.g. Journalism: Facts vs. Fantasy, The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil).

The national governments of the world need to get serious about renewable clean energy usage for so many reasons, including the fact that the damage from the use of fossil fuels is already very serious (Is A New Age Of Pressure Upon Us? – 5).

The previous post in this series is here.

Dredd Blog

8 Comments on "A Peek At The Peak Oil Catastrophe"

  1. GregT on Sat, 17th May 2014 10:09 am 

    If there was such a thing as ‘renewable clean energy’, I doubt very much that the governments of the world would be wasting their time fighting wars over oil.

  2. tahoe1780 on Sat, 17th May 2014 11:48 am 

    The “energy”, wind, solar, geothermal, etc. is clean and renewable; using fossil fuels to build and maintain the infrastructure is not. The medieval times is a good example of a “clean and renewable” solar-based economy without the benefit of fossil fuel-based capture and distribution infrastructure. Better use the FF that’s left to build out those thorium reactors…

  3. Cloud9 on Sat, 17th May 2014 11:57 am 

    If we were smart and able to think beyond the next election cycle or quarterly report, we would collapse the economy and force the nation back towards a sustainable life style. The idea that soccer moms are burning up the last of a finite resource in search of a better bargain at an outlet mall is insane.

    We need to throw up a wall around North America and secure it as a life boat. A citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere. In a world a scarcity, tribalism rears its ugly head. The American tribe must recognize the age of limits and what that implies.


  4. J-Gav on Sat, 17th May 2014 4:56 pm 

    Tahoe – Interesting that you should mention thorium reactors in this context. As anti-nuke as I come across in most of my interventions on the subject, if I could ever accept a build-out of new reactors, it would not be 3rd, 4th or whatever generation of what we’ve been doing, but would have to be thorium. Its advantages are clear (See Kirk Sorensen’s work – or listen to Chris Martenson’s recent podcast with him on Peak Prosperity). I’m not yet convinced as to how fantastically cheaper it would actually turn out to be, but that looks like the only nuclear option worth putting some research dollars into, IMHO.

  5. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sat, 17th May 2014 5:06 pm 

    Cloud said – If we were smart and able to think beyond the next election cycle or quarterly report, we would collapse the economy and force the nation back towards a sustainable life style.

    Cloud, this is practically speaking the only managed de-growth option. Cloud, this will not be pretty. We are talking widespread hunger, homeless, and cold homes. Yet, this is the only option. It is possible that TPTB could decide to go this route and make some kind of arrangements in preparations. The problem is world competition. TPTB are not going to do anything that may put them at a disadvantage. What is not recognized by TPTB is the loss of one critical node leads to the collapse of all nodes. Also Cloud there is no guarantee we will land at a sustainable lifestyle. We could fall into the abyss of a true bottleneck with very few surviving.

    Cloud said – We need to throw up a wall around North America and secure it as a life boat.

    Cloud there is a lot to be said in this statement. A US lifeboat would need to organize a population reduction i.e. no more immigration. We are currently in overshoot to our carrying capacity “NOW” so yes stop all immigration. Yet, beyond this “US lifeboat” the lifeboats need to go local. These local life boats probably should have limitations on movement within the US. This is not only a US idea it is something Europe should do. We are basically describing martial law with the above ideas.

  6. dubya on Sat, 17th May 2014 8:15 pm 


    There has been a US/Canadian government response to the forecast of societal collapse due to peak resources/climate chaos/food prices: the militarization of police & surveillance of citizens. Certainly ‘we’ are better prepared for civil disturbance than 15 years ago; unfortunately there has been NO response to the root causes.

    It is going to get interesting.

  7. Dredd on Sun, 18th May 2014 7:02 am 

    Good comments and avid readers here are Peak Oil News.

    As to clean and renewable energy sources and enjoyable civilizations without oil, there have been many (Civilizations Like Our Own Without Oil). At least they did not have peak oil catastrophe to worry about.

  8. Tom on Mon, 19th May 2014 8:17 am 

    Calculate how much your community spends on fossil fuel energy each year and the taxes it generates for government. I live in a small town, approximately 15,000 people. Considering the surrounding farms and government, schools, etc., the direct energy cost is over $100,000,000 per year. Nobody wants to give up anything in that market until they are forced. Getting off the treadmill will be difficult.

    The only successful future I can imagine, is highly diversified energy generation and distribution. I believe we have that technical ability. But, it will take over 20 years for the capital asset replacement. Such a system will also redistribute wealth and political power. The U.S. has only two neighbors and is protected by oceans. Quite different from many nations. The next 10 years should be interesting.

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