Thursday, September 04, 2008

Your Hummer is Making the US Less Secure (in additon to making you look like a tool)

Former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke recently asserted in an article in Foreign Affairs that, with the recent rise in energy prices, we are experiencing "the greatest transfer of wealth from one set of nations to another in history."

The transferers (read: suckers) in this case are the major oil consumers: the US, Europe, China, Japan & India. And the transferees are the major oil exporting nations. Seems all well & good--the producers have a product that the consumers want, so they sell it, get rich, & everybody's happy.

Unfortunately, it ain't that simple.

The rub here is, of course, that many of the states growing fat off the global spike in energy prices are home to unsavory regimes with, in many cases, foreign policy goals antithetical to those of the major consumers (especially those of the US, Europe, & Japan). And the recipients of the oil-gluttonous countries' cash, clearly aware of their increased clout, are exhibiting a dangerous new swagger on the world stage. Witness Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flouting western attempts to reign in Iran's nuclear ambitions, Hugo Chavez threatening Colombia and calling out President Bush in front of the UN General Assembly, & Vladimir Putin generally stirring shit up in the Caucasus.

So, the logical solution here would be to stop using so much foreign energy. The American political establishment seems to have reached consensus on this--the buzzword of the day being "energy security." Democrats urge us to wear sweaters, inflate our tires, & build windmills, while Republicans exhort us to "drill, baby, drill" (seemingly oblivious to the global nature of hydrocarbon markets).

Of course, any steps taken toward these goals will probably be all for naught if the emerging economies in India & China develop rates of energy consumption approaching those in the wealthy west and the petro-pushers simply shift to a new set of energy-junky clients.

So, what's the solution here? A major decrease in foreign oil consumption by wealthy countries with high consumption rates coupled with some sort of major assistance program designed to help emerging economies develop in a less energy-consumptive manner seems like the only solution from my vantage point.

This problem is huge, pressing, & has been seemingly ignored for the past few decades. And we're not even delving into the environmental impact of the current worldwide energy regime & global climate change...

1 comment:

Delta Blue said...

It would be a help if congress would let us build more nuclear power plants. That would limit drilling, and make us more energy independent.