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A Soldier had to Tell Us We’re Going to Run Out of Oil

May 13th, 2010

Why are we as a species so incredibly short-sighted? There is a Native American saying (along the lines) that mankind will only realise there’s something wrong when there are no more fish in the sea, and we can’t eat money, and of course the Easter Islanders famously cut down their last tree, with Jarred Diamond kicking off his book ‘Collapse’ with the question “What on earth were they thinking when they did that?” and yet talk about Peak Oil has often been dismissed as hysterical. There is only one source that would really be taken seriously by such skeptics: if the US military say something is a problem, then it must be True.

So if you’re one of those skeptics, you can’t claim it’s just loonies like Archdruid John Michael Greer who has been tracking this issue on his excellent blog and in his book The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World. Here’s a quote from Sunday’s Guardian:

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: “While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India.”

The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with “an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments.”

The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk.

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4 Responses to “A Soldier had to Tell Us We’re Going to Run Out of Oil”

  1. So, what can one say to this. In the early ’70s we were warned for this, but our leaders chose to go on with “business as usual”, ignoring the outcry of many scientists, environmentalist and others, that there must quickly be found other means of energy supply. So this comes as no surprise.
    The scary part is that the military obviously expect that there will be major fighting over control over the resources. It is a pity, and a shame, that we haven’t been able to get away from the oil-driven economy.
    I’d say : prepare for the worst and try to keep the spirit up.

  2. To answer your question, I don’t think that we are short sighted because it is in our blood, I think that it is something that we have learned. Just in speaking about my personal observations of people, I don’t think that most of us really ever learned how to think past next week… possibly a short vacation in the summer… time with family during the December holidays, but really not long term in any real fashion.

    I’m not prepared to call this a ‘human’ trait, however, because I know that long term thinking can be learned. There is a First Nations group… can’t for the life of me remember what they call themselves… (sorry) which doesn’t recognize the Canada/U.S. border… (because we so rudely put it right in the middle of their haunt), who believe in planning for the seventh generation. What is that… two hundred years? That is a completely different way of looking at the world and planning for the future. If most people did that, we wouldn’t have an oil crisis because nobody would consider using oil.

    If I may make a prediction here, based on what I have observed from the past, I think what is going to happen is that the oil industry is going to push this thing as hard as they can so that they can make as much money as possible when shortages start to appear (I suspect they are looking forward to it). This means that they will push the prices as high as possible for as long as possible.

    As the costs get to be too high for the average person to afford to use the stuff, we will have little solutions ‘magically’ appear that will absolutely thrill the capitalists, ease the fears of average Joe consumer and, of course cause the ecologically aware to shudder at the ignorance, short sightedness and stupidity of it all.

    That seems to be how it all works.

    I’m not really very politically inclined, but if I were, I would probably want to guide these ‘magical solutions’ in the beginning stages of their creation (like say… right now…) so that they go in a direction that I like. However, for me, I intend to treat it like a coming hard winter–dig a good hole, knit some blankets and hope that I have pickled enough beans to get to spring…

    Oh yes, and make sure I have a good bicycle in good working order before they get to be too expensive… although bicycle gears need oil too, don’t they? Hmmm…

    Back to my hole, I guess…

  3. Some people have been talking about this for years. They were treated like crazies. Now it seems that we really-really have to prepare, like the other comment says, bicycles and knitting warm blankets, lol. (And re-skilling, learning again to survive in the world without cell phones and techno stuff. And…without the Internet?).
    It is sad that the same people who treated the -then – visionaries – as crazies, did not think about our generation (30-35 now). But then what did we expect?

  4. By the way, who is producing the most of petrol products now? Isn’t it US? Who is serving SU Army? Try to guess pls…
    Such a panic expectations has one goal: to rise US economic incomes. Not bad, not bad.. 🙂 But we have to stay calm and not to give way of panic in ourselves.

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