Now that Peak Oil is starting to go mainstream, lots of Chicken Little writers are trying to outdo each other on the concept. Now we have “Peak” being used as a catch-all phrase. Peak Coal, Peak Uranium, Peak Water, etc. All of this seems to be lumped together under an anti-capitalism and Green Power thought process. We need to downsize, hug a tree, plant a garden in our eco-village lighted with florescent bulbs. Vote for Hillary, cut up our credit cards, drive a hybrid vehicle. Well meaning, perhaps, but ultimately futile. The entire economy of the US and other first world nations, plus Johnny Come Lately’s such as Brazil, China, India and Russia is based on resource depletion to power their economies. The entire power structure and the economic model is continued growth fueled by consuming resources. We can’t change that, it is as futile as battling the Catholic Church prior to the Gutenberg printing press.
Almost the entire history of our country has been resource exploitation to fuel growth. We had an unimaginably treasure at our fingertips, impeded only by a few indigenous tribes of hunter/gatherers. Wood and farmland were a vast sea in front of settlers. Nothing but fuel and food. We couldn’t help but grow and prosper. In no small part, the Southern states fought over their continual growth of slave labor cash crops by continual expansion. When that was stalemated they had no choice but to fight. When the new fuel of coal was utilized economically it was a foregone conclusion the North would win ( and coal and steel helped free up farm workers to fight with machine farming ). Our nation went from wood and farmland to coal and steel, then to tapping vast oil deposits. Our entire growth was energy exploitation. As it was throughout history for any great power.
That has ended. The beginning of the end was 1971 when our domestic lower 48 oil reserves hit a peak of production. Alaskan oil picked us up off of our feet when we stumbled, but that too has peaked. Since then only military might both to enforce a dollar priced oil and a global market has kept us in power. And now that too has ended. We don’t realize this yet, but the same forces that stopped Russian expansion into Afghanistan will also see our military power erode. The military power of the nation state is seriously threatened by handheld weapons insurgents now possess. And of course by the beginning of the end of the oil supply globally.
Without a cheap abundant supply of oil, the large military we rely on to force the world to sell us their commodities will become impotent. You can only project power with an energy surplus, and that will end with imports being threatened. Only the timing is unclear. Now to that we can add in all the other “Peak” problems. The dollar looks like it is being seriously challenged. Peak Dollar. What damage the foreigners don’t do to it, we will accomplish ourselves. Peak Soil fertility is a concern as we have stripped the soil with modern fertilizers. Peak Water will effect us as we have seriously overpopulated arid regions ( and even traditionally wet ones, where any drought is felt immediately ). Peak Mild Weather is being felt everywhere, and only now effecting food prices. Peak Suburbia is our insane belief that the oil will never stop being imported so most folks live an uncomfortable distance from work. Peak Economy is easily seen in our current real estate and credit and derivative meltdown.
We don’t have a continent full of energy resources anymore. We have used up too much to support our population and our life styles of excess. The economic model of America is dying before our eyes. How many generations before the entire place is thinly populated by hunter gatherers again?
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