Tuesday, August 15, 2006
It is the Oil, Stupid
There is a lot of nonsense being written after the tragic events in the Middle East over the last several weeks. Both sides claim victory, etc, etc. Nobody seems to be looking at the big picture, at least not the major news media. (You can find an occasional column in the NY Times but not on their front page.)
What do we have there? A lot of poor and oppressed people who countries posses a major resource, oil. Who buys the oil? The major industrial powers of the West. Who gets the money from the sale of oil? Only the rulers of those countries. How do they deal with the dissatisfaction of their subject? By diverting their attention to, so called, external problems, namely the Arab-Israeli conflict. No wonder, it is in the interest of the rulers of the oil rich countries to fan the flames of the conflict.
Attempting "regime change" from the outside is futile, as any student of history knows (it has never happened before). Killing people to make them free ranks with the burning of "heretics" by the Inquisition in order to save their souls!
Is there a peaceful way to pressure the rulers of these lands? How about cutting our purchases of oil from them? How about not buying oil from countries that mistreat their subjects? Wouldn't that cause hardship in the industrialized world. It will, but eventually we must reduce oil consumption no matter what.
Oil is a non-renewable natural resource and eventually the world will run out of oil. This may not happen for another 50 or even 100 years but it is best not to face the crisis suddenly. Even before we run out of oil its price will start climbing - something that it may have already started. If we want to avoid economic shocks, it is best to start reducing our consumption now.
Then there is the effect on global warming. Global warming is happening, what is disputed is whether it is caused by CO2 emissions. Again, the prudent course is to reduce CO2 emissions.
There is talk about alternative source of energy, etc but these are not a given (see earlier postings on this blog). We waste so much now that a modest effort in reducing energy consumption will have significant effects. Tax policy (either taxing gasoline directly or taxing inefficient vehicles) can encourage people to save. Of course this is going to reduce the profits of oil companies as well as the profits of the auto industry, so we are stuck!