Wattree on Mandela: Homeward Bound
Richard Day: Cold in Minnesota, and in the Hearts of Men
Ramona On Martin Bashir
Speculation that government ministers are far more concerned about a future supply crunch than they have admitted has been fueled by the revelation that they are canvassing views from industry and the scientific community about "peak oil".(...) Experts say they have received a letter from David Mackay, chief scientific adviser to the DECC, asking for information and advice on peak oil amid a growing campaign from industrialists such as Sir Richard Branson for the government to put contingency plans in place to deal with any future crisis. Guardian
A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how "peak oil" might change the global economy. The internal draft document -- leaked on the Internet -- shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis.(...) The scenarios outlined by the Bundeswehr Transformation Center are drastic. Even more explosive, politically, are recommendations to the government that the energy experts have put forward based on these scenarios. They argue that "states dependent on oil imports" will be forced to "show more pragmatism toward oil-producing states in their foreign policy." Political priorities will have to be somewhat subordinated, they claim, to the overriding concern of securing energy supplies. (Germany) would also have to show more restraint in its foreign policy toward Israel, to avoid alienating Arab oil-producing nations. Unconditional support for Israel and its right to exist is currently a cornerstone of German foreign policy. (...) "A readjustment of Germany's Middle East policy … in favor of more intensive relations with producer countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, which have the largest conventional oil reserves in the region, might put a strain on German-Israeli relations, depending on the intensity of the policy change," the authors write. Der Spiegel
- Market failures: The authors paint a bleak picture of the consequences resulting from a shortage of petroleum. As the transportation of goods depends on crude oil, international trade could be subject to colossal tax hikes. "Shortages in the supply of vital goods could arise" as a result, for example in food supplies. Oil is used directly or indirectly in the production of 95% of all industrial goods. Price shocks could therefore be seen in almost any industry and throughout all stages of the industrial supply chain. "In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse."
- Relapse into planned economy: Since virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on oil, peak oil could lead to a "partial or complete failure of markets," says the study. "A conceivable alternative would be government rationing and the allocation of important goods or the setting of production schedules and other short-term coercive measures to replace market-based mechanisms in times of crisis."(five year plans?)
- Crisis of political legitimacy: The Bundeswehr study also raises fears for the survival of democracy itself. Parts of the population could comprehend the upheaval trigged by peak oil "as a general systemic crisis." This would create "room for ideological and extremist alternatives to existing forms of government." Fragmentation of the affected population is likely and could "in extreme cases lead to open conflict."
What are you doing here, don't you know that today they are selling lemons?
This is a classic joke from the now defunct German Democratic Republic.
What brought the GDR down and the rest of Really Existing Socialism, including the USSR along with it, was not really people's chaffing under the repression of totalitarianism, but rather our system's miraculous ability to produce and distribute an infinite variety of affordable consumer goods, which their godless, planned economy couldn't. Free health care, social equality, guaranteed employment, good schools (Angela Merkel graduated from the University of Leipzig) and guaranteed housing couldn't compete with our cornucopia.
The essence of our system is a quite recent -- and never before in history achieved -- endless variety of things, many of them amazingly cheap, to choose from. Think about it, you wander into a shopping mall looking to buy some deodorant and you'll be forced to choose between dozens of different brands at many different prices until you find exactly the one that suits your pocketbook or your "unique lifestyle" and image. You can eat your favorite fruit at any time of the year, flown in from the other side of the planet. This is freedom! This cornucopic miracle is all about logistics and logistics depends on oil.
No oil means either starvation or what are you doing here, don't you know that today they are selling lemons?
If Peak Oil finally happens we will be looking at some stark choices: whether we serve the Koch's as slaves or serve the Kochs boiled, baked or fricasseed. I can easily imagine which outcome they would prefer we chose.
I'm sure the Kochs know more about oil than Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change or Germany's Bundeswehr combined and the Koch family's intervention in America's political life may be explained by that knowledge and by every good businessman's effort to produce predictable outcomes.