2/11/2007

Oil and the world


Oil is the modern world's most needed resource. It is a resource created by nature over several millenniums and one that will be most probably be squandered away by humanity in less than a century. It is a resource that has dictated modern international diplomacy and politics, a resource now on the verge of extinction. I think it is time to look back at the way we have manifested this resource, how political games have been played and wars been fought under the cover of a philanthropic cause. Oil has been, till now, the driving force behind our industries. It has fulfilled human energy needs for several decades. In fact, several economic models measure a country's growth and economy by the amount of oil it consumes. From automobiles to kitchen gas to industrial usage, it wouldnt be wrong to say that oil as a source of energy has some influence on all our lives. So I cant understand why doesnt anybody today ask the question "What after Oil ?" Is it such a difficult global scenario to analyse or is it simply that we want to be like an ostrich, wishing the problem would simply go away. Instead of planning for a future for the coming generations, we have focussed our attention on gaining maximum control of the resource and passing the problem to the have not's. The problem is not mine or yours, but is something that will effect everybody, the whole mankind. This is an eventuality no one can deny and the solution can only be reached together. Consider this, the proposed American budget for the Iraq war was $70-80 billion, but so far has cost $290 billion with Mr Bush always keen on asking the congress for additional funds. $290 billion, thats almost equivalent to the entire value of Microsoft. Had even a fraction of the above funds been diverted to research regarding improving efficiency of energy generation, improvements in harnessing alternate sources of energy and funding fusion research programmes, the solution to our energy problems would have been with us and there for our future generations. Instead, let us see how the problem has actually been handled. It has been clear from events of the past few decades, that the foresight of the American leaders foretold the coming shortage and eventual exctinction of oil. It is indeed commendable that while the entire world was involved in developing their economies, solving regional disputes, maybe even a war or two, the largest global economy was cleverly, posing as a philanthropist, securing oil rights in the middle east through their oil companies through diplomatic and military means. US has always backed Israel, the regional superpower in the Gulf. Besides there were the Gulf Wars to gain dominance in Iraq and a direct strong hold in the region. Also through NATO, America has always enjoyed an upper hand in the region with its military bases and troops. The American Oil companies are extremely dominant in the middle east and american military presence there ensures safety of american investment in Saudi Arabia. And all this has been achieved after several decades of calculated political maneuvering and capitalising on every oppurtunity that comes their way. What troubles me though is the fact, that where ever the quest for oil has taken the US, there has been nothing but suffering and bloodshed for both the americans and the natives. The defenders of the world have not been true to their self appointed job. And the American people have been blatantly ignorant of their leader's lies and the media has been superficial, even biased at times in their coverage of these historic conflicts. Instead of acting as a responsible superpower, the country has ended up creating a mess. The war on Iraq has crossed over its allocated budget, with no repreive in sight. War on terror is a total disaster, with resentment to american presence in the region gaining momentum and american troops being targeted everywhere. Also the so called, elected governments established by the americans are weak and unstable. People are paying with their lives so American capitalists can reap the fruit. Meanwhile, the American economy is in a terrible state, with the inflation and the trade deficit touching new heights. With rising interest rates, mortgage and home finance, which has been the american golden goose, is now heading for a decline. The government has failed to create jobs in the economy with multinationals outsourcing to upcoming countries like China and India to increase their profit margins. Clearly the americans have not taken into consideration the consequences of globalisation and the increasing interdependence of the American and upcoming economies as consumer and producer. Hence, eventually the solution lies only in cooperation and mutual co existance and that will eventually be the key to the survival of our civilisation. However, in the current scenario, I see no end to this senseless quest fuelled by arrogance and lack of respect for human life. What is going to be the outcome of this whole chrade. Once this resource is finished, once the wars over controlling oil have been fought, once several million lives have been lost, we will be back where we were at the turn of the 19th. But by then it would be too late and it would all be over. What then??

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