With denial of reality, we excavate the foundation of the cliff that we continue to climb.
With acceptance of reality (and wisdom), we would climb down while building a softer landing zone.
Our oil age will not end through lack of it, but by fighting over what’s left.
The critical nature of oil made WWII inevitable. To sustain their empires, the Germans and Japanese slaughtered their way across Europe and Asia in a grab for resources, primarily oil. They promised infinite prosperity and their peoples cheered them on while deaths elsewhere were being counted in millions. With most of the world’s known oil supplies in the hands of his enemies, Adolf Hitler knew he had to have the oilfields of southern Russia and the Middle East to sustain his war machine.
He failed, and his dream of a ‘Greater Germany’ collapsed not because of inferior soldiers but because there was insufficient energy input to sustain his plan for world domination.
We now have maybe 20 years worth of usable oil left. There are certainly no more than 30, perhaps as little as 10. If one of the crazy sects running loose in the Middle East managed to get hold of a nuclear device, setting it off on the Gharwar oilfield of Saudi Arabia would end our industrialised infrastructure overnight. That is perhaps too bleak a prospect, but we should not discount that notion entirely.
No one dares to stand up and make the rather obvious point that we are not going to reach 9 billion. Something has to give, and that giving is going to be very unpleasant.
For the moment, nature keeps us supplied with oil, and we’ve pulled off the neat trick of converting it directly into food. Not knowing when our oil is finished and our food supply will run out is the little teaser for the early 21st century. Right now, most people think that food comes from supermarket shelves and freezers, which is just as well. The food trucks moving around the country are basically mobile warehouses, delivering food just in time for it to be consumed. When the realization dawns that the food trucks have stopped, the food held in stock by retailers will be stripped bare in hours. The oil age for everyone will have come to an end.
The link between oil and the ability to eat is clear. The UK has to import 40% of its food, and much of the rest depends on oil to produce it, which also has to be imported. It is the end of the UK’s oil age, but few admit to it being the end of a food age as well.
As the UK detaches itself from Europe, under the delusion that the ‘great’ will be put back into Britain, the reality will hit home that without oil surplus, the UK will be reduced to a third world country at starvation level. British farms cannot feed 65 million people.
The same problem is being revealed in the current fiasco of the rest of the European union, Oil-fueled prosperity is falling dramatically in the poorer southern countries. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal and a swathe of smaller nations have to import all their oil which only worked when oil was cheap. Now it’s expensive, and they are facing bankruptcy. 50 years of ‘unity’ is dissolving like a mirage in the face of the difficulties that smaller states are suffering. Without cheap oil, their economies cannot function, and so are disintegrating.
h/t Derek Peter Carne