Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Oil, war and food

food riot, Haiti: courtesy of groovygreen.The end of oil will cause food riots worldwide, according to the UK Ecologist. The oil industry's forecast for peak oil within 5-10 years, was covered up by industry and IEA under pressure from the US, while Bush and Cheney launched wars for oil in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other "wars on terror".

Alberta tarsands: photo by S.Jocz © Western Canada Wilderness Committee
Alberta's Parkland Institute shows the link between US military strategy and oil wars. Kairos says Canadian taxpayer subsidies to oilsands, mostly in tax breaks, cost $1.446b over six years to 2002 [and have since risen sharply under the Conservatives]. Tarsandswatch says tarsands development and the SPP (Security and Prosperity Initiative) are designed to prop up the declining US empire.

food riots, Mexico 2008: David Sheen
The G20's ballyhooed food security initiative is a front for pushing GMO seeds in the Third World: Monsanto, Syngenta, the Gates-Rockefeller AGRA (Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa ), BASF, Bayer, Syngenta, Dupont. See this article on AGRA by an American living in Ghana. He also comments on AFRICOM, the Pentagon's strategic military expansion into Africa.

food riot, Egypt 2008: © AP / Nasser Nasser
The conservative Financial Times shows a global food crisis has already hit Africa, Haiti, Tibet, Iran, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia, and Egypt, though absurdly it claims the problem will be solved by "markets" alone. During the 2008 crisis, nations turned to land grabs and food hoarding. Third world agriculture is already suffering from double-digit fuel and fertilizer price hikes. In India, food prices are rising 16% annually.

The oil crisis will come in the next 6 years, say market fundamentalists of the Deutsche Bank, whose Oct 09 study predicts "peak oil" will be triggered by price, not supply: "we expect demand to break decisively" when oil prices rise to US$150/bbl, gas US$4/gal, "the tipping point that will destroy gasoline demand and mark the end of the age of oil." OPEC spare capacity is a myth. They predict a huge destabilizing oil shock (like 1972, 1980, 2008) between 2010-2016, followed by a major shift to natgas, electric cars and e-bikes and a permanent oil price collapse.

They say Canadian tarsands, Brazil's Guara offshore field, oil shales will be among the (currently overpriced) losers. Agricultural production (dependent on fuel and fertilizer), heavy trucking and aviation will be hard hit. Oilco owners will engage in an orgy of profit-taking and invest in other industries.
Secret CIA-Pentagon predictions of peak oil, they imply, were the strategic motive for US oil wars on Islamic countries: in their terms 71% of proven world oil reserves are "Muslim" (incl Nigeria), 20% "socialist" (Russia and Venezuela). See diagram.

They also say that US gasoline consumers are undertaxed. Just to cover the cost of the Iraq war, gasoline prices should be some 54 cents per gallon higher (p.10). Nor do US gas prices reflect the increased risk of drilling and refining in a hurricane zone, the Gulf of Mexico. (p.25).

In short term policy, fuel efficiency is an obvious choice; decades of US government laxity on CAFE fuel efficiency standards helped create the present crisis [implicitly, politicians caved in to the auto and oil lobbies] (p.31). Forsaking gas hogs, Japan and Germany have been able to thrive on $8 gas (p.28 ). In the long term, hybrids and electric cars will end the oil age. China and the US are both moving fast in this direction.

Finally, they expect climate action limiting CO2 to fail -- resisted by the habits of US consumers, rising demand in China, producers in Mid-East and Russia. By 2022 the falling demand for oil will reduce C02 [but too late to avoid catastrophic climate change] (p.57-58).
For peaceful alternatives to these scenarios, see Matt Savinar's Life After the Oil Crash, TransitionUS.org (formerly Relocalize.net), Canada's Foodforethought.net, "Food crisis -- the facts" in New Internationalist Dec 2008, Food First founded by Francis Moore Lappé, and Via Campesina.

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