Friday, July 21, 2006

The Middle East Crisis and Peak Oil

There is an unfortunate tendency among many peak oilers to translate every global geopolitical event in terms of peak oil. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Those same people will, in the next breath, complain that the world's political leaders are unaware of peak oil and have no plans to deal with it. It has to be one or the other. It can't be claimed that politicians are ignorant of peak oil and at the same time claim that it is the motive force behind everything they do.
There is little question that the involvement of the nations of the western world in the events of the middle east are motivated by the presence of such large volumes of oil in that region. Western nations have been prepared to go to war in order to secure access to oil and other energy resources, and indeed non-energy resources, for decades and centuries. It can even reasonably be argued that most of the major wars of the past century have been a result of energy reserves and access to them.
To project this reality into a peak oil perspective and claim that current global geopolitical events have to do with political awareness of peak oil and the desire to secure the "last" of the world's energy reserves is misguided. The current middle east crisis, as with most previous middle east crises, is about religious bigotry and intolerance. It is about two different peoples seeing a completely different truth in the same set of facts. It is about the peculiarly human frailty of measuring each other by our differences than our commonalities. I have two cats, one a grey American Shorthair and the other a black/white/orange calico. It's odd how they seem not to bother about those obvious visible differences. I think all they see in each other is another cat. Yes, they will squabble sometimes over who eats off which dish at mealtime. But that has no basis in their physical differences. I do not, I must mit, know what their individual religious affiliations are.
I am not going to launch into a pointless polemic about learning to live together. I am not going to break into a few bars of "Ebony and Ivory". I am not above doing either, but they are not the point of this article.
My point here is a simple one. Do not draw connections between peak oil and world events that do not exist. The tendency is regretable that peak oilers looked to such a wide variety of world events as confirmation that their belief in peak oil is not misplaced. But it is a process of forcing those world events through a very narrow filter. The confirmation of political awareness of peak oil and political action to deal with peak oil will come when it comes. Whenever that happens it will be far earlier than the world is prepared to deal with it. Don't rush it.

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