Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
Investing in Crypto Currencies With Both Eyes WIDE OPEN! - 25th Oct 21
Is Bitcoin a Better Inflation Hedge Than Gold? - 25th Oct 21
S&P 500 Stirs the Gold Pot - 25th Oct 21
Stock Market Against Bond Market Odds - 25th Oct 21
Inflation Consequences for the Stock Market, FED Balance Sheet - 24th Oct 21
To Be or Not to Be: How the Evergrande Crisis Can Affect Gold Price - 24th Oct 21
During a Market Mania, "no prudent professional is perceived to add value" - 24th Oct 21
Stock Market S&P500 Rallies Above $4400 – May Attempt To Advance To $4750~$4800 - 24th Oct 21
Inflation and the Crazy Crypto Markets - 23rd Oct 21
Easy PC Upgrades with Motherboard Combos - Overclockers UK Unboxing - MB, Memory and Ryzen 5600x CPU - 23rd Oct 21
Gold Mining Stocks Q3 2021 - 23rd Oct 21
Gold calmly continues cobbling its Handle, Miners lay in wait - 23rd Oct 21
US Economy Has Been in an Economic Depression Since 2008 - 22nd Oct 21
Extreme Ratios Point to Gold and Silver Price Readjustments - 22nd Oct 21
Bitcoin $100K or Ethereum $10K—which happens first? - 22nd Oct 21
This Isn’t Sci-Fi: How AI Is About To Disrupt This $11 Trillion Industry - 22nd Oct 21
Ravencoin RVN About to EXPLODE to NEW HIGHS! Last Chance to Buy Before it goes to the MOON! - 21st Oct 21
Stock Market Animal Spirits Returning - 21st Oct 21
Inflation Advances, and So Does Gold — Except That It Doesn’t - 21st Oct 21
Why A.I. Is About To Trigger The Next Great Medical Breakthrough - 21st Oct 21
Gold Price Slowly Going Nowhere - 20th Oct 21
Shocking Numbers Show Government Crowding Out Real Economy - 20th Oct 21
Crude Oil Is in the Fast Lane, But Where Is It Going? - 20th Oct 21
3 Tech Stocks That Could Change The World - 20th Oct 21
Best AI Tech Stocks ETF and Investment Trusts - 19th Oct 21
Gold Mining Stocks: Will Investors Dump the Laggards? - 19th Oct 21
The Most Exciting Medical Breakthrough Of The Decade? - 19th Oct 21
Prices Rising as New Dangers Point to Hard Assets - 19th Oct 21
It’s not just Copper; GYX indicated cyclical the whole time - 19th Oct 21
Chinese Tech Stocks CCP Paranoia, VIES - Variable Interest Entities - 19th Oct 21
Inflation Peaked Again, Right? - 19th Oct 21
Gold Stocks Bouncing Hard - 19th Oct 21
Stock Market New Intermediate Bottom Forming? - 19th Oct 21
Beware, Gold Bulls — That’s the Beginning of the End - 18th Oct 21
Gold Price Flag Suggests A Big Rally May Start Soon - 18th Oct 21
Inflation Or Deflation – End Result Is Still Depression - 18th Oct 21
A.I. Breakthrough Could Disrupt the $11 Trillion Medical Sector - 18th Oct 21
US Economy and Stock Market Addicted to Deficit Spending - 17th Oct 21
The Gold Price And Inflation - 17th Oct 21
Went Long the Crude Oil? Beware of the Headwinds Ahead… - 17th Oct 21
Watch These Next-gen Cloud Computing Stocks - 17th Oct 21
Overclockers UK Custom Built PC 1 YEAR Use Review Verdict - Does it Still Work? - 16th Oct 21
Altonville Mine Tours Maze at Alton Towers Scarefest 2021 - 16th Oct 21
How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
The Only way to Crush Inflation (not stocks) - 14th Oct 21
Why "Losses Are the Norm" in the Stock Market - 14th Oct 21
Sub Species Castle Maze at Alton Towers Scarefest 2021 - 14th Oct 21
Which Wallet is Best for Storing NFTs? - 14th Oct 21
Ailing UK Pound Has Global Effects - 14th Oct 21
How to Get 6 Years Life Out of Your Overclocked PC System, Optimum GPU, CPU and MB Performance - 13th Oct 21
The Demand Shock of 2022 - 12th Oct 21
4 Reasons Why NFTs Could Be The Future - 12th Oct 21
Crimex Silver: Murder Most Foul - 12th Oct 21
Bitcoin Rockets In Preparation For Liftoff To $100,000 - 12th Oct 21
INTEL Tech Stock to the MOON! INTC 2000 vs 2021 Market Bubble WARNING - 11th Oct 21
AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
Stock Market Wall of Worry Meets NFPs - 11th Oct 21
Stock Market Intermediate Correction Continues - 11th Oct 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

Peak Oil? Why not Peak Water

Commodities / Water Sector Sep 25, 2010 - 12:14 PM GMT

By: William_Bowles

Commodities

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticlePeak Oil? Why not Peak Water, after all, water is much more crucial to life than oil ever will be and it's being consumed in vast quantities by the same economic system that chows oil?

In fact, water is a far more potent and relevant symbol of the way capitalism chows the planet than is oil. Although it too is a finite resource, it also a renewable resource through the process of recycling, something that is done by nature in another of its amazing cycles that keep (kept?) the biosphere stable; what we call homeostasis where life, chemistry, physics and geology all meet. Water is thus far more symbolic of the irrationality of capitalist production than is oil, where even a renewable resource is consumed by capitalism.


This is why I just cannot get my head around the fact some on the left (who I think should know better) are buying into the 'peak oil' BS. 'Running out of oil' is essentially a problem for capitalism, but not for you and me. In fact, 'running out of oil' maybe a blessing in disguise. Just think, we could once again be living in a world without plastic bags![1]

Clearly, oil and gas are non-renewable resources[2] but then so is every other element, mixture and compound present on Earth.[3] What makes oil so important is its centrality to capitalist production and especially its ability to wage war, that's why there's all the fuss about it[4]. But why has the left bought into this 'peak oil' BS?

I suspect that part of the problem lies with the ideological position on the left that on the one hand rightly opposes consumerism, a way of life that ultimately consumes everything, with the much more difficult problem of posing an alternative. Oil has become symbolic of the capitalist way of life, yet it's ridiculous to advocate that we stop using oil, at least in the short term. The real question is how it should be consumed and critically who decides?

It also has to be accepted that we who live in the West have adsorbed the ideology of Empire and this includes those of us on the left, who assume that the nature and quantity of their consumption is non-negotiable, unless of course capitalism does it for them.

Sure, we could 'run out of oil', but so what? We're also 'running out' of helium. But let me rephrase this: we're running out of economically viable sources of oil. And by economically viable, they mean profitable to extract, not that there's a shortage.

Then there's the issue of global warming/climate change to which undoubtedly burning fossil fuels is major contributor in the form of carbon dioxide. But an even more inflammable contribution to global warming is the gas methane (ten times more heat retaining than is carbon dioxide), produced in vast quantities by beef cattle for all those billions of burgers. Once again, the problem is not production per se but the quantities and the inevitable distortions and inequalites that monocultures create and perpetuate.

Thus consumption of oil, in order to satisfy the demands of shareholders, is but one aspect of an all-consuming capitalism. To single out oil, to make a special case out of it, seems pointless and just like the 'over-population problem', a gigantic red herring, pointing away from the real solution to our crisis.

The bottom line is that capitalist economies do not want to change the way they 'do business' just as companies often resist the introduction of new ways of doing things because they deem them not to be profitable or too expensive to implement. If pursuit of profit is the only driving force then clearly we're going to 'run out of oil' and a bunch of other things. And let us not forget that the single biggest consumer of oil on the planet is the US military machine.

Undoubtedly because oil is so central to capitalist economies and as it gets more expensive to extract it, it becomes (yet another, if major) source of conflict but no more so than other strategically critical materials are, especially the so-called rare earth elements so necessary to electronics sector.

So why has oil been singled out and not initially by the left but by the oil industry itself?

For the past one hundred years the major western powers have had a lock on petroleum resources. Two world wars and uncounted 'minor' ones fought over access to, and ownership of, oil. The question therefore is not its abundance or lack thereof but who controls it and who determines how it is used?

Media commentary in the West should be our guide as to the role of oil in our economies where it is assumed that access to oil is our God-given right, therefore we constantly hear the refrain 'energy security' and now closely followed by the refrain 'peak oil'.

There are new reserves of oil and gas being discovered all the time but they are no longer concentrated in a few locations. So it's not that the world is 'running out of oil' but the West's access to the world's supplies are now not only constrained by the cost of extracting it[5] but that it entails the West, principally the US need to control more and more locations, necessitating the expansion of its military bases. It becomes a vicious cycle of consumption, production, expansion and war.

Oil, along with many other resources (including people) fuels the endless expansion of capitalist production. Forget 'peak oil', instead let's get rid of capitalism and then we can decide how we can best we can share and maintain the Earth's resources between all of its inhabitants, present and future.

Notes

1. Apparently, we 'consume' 600 million tons of plastic products each year, and all of it is made from oil.

2. Unless you subscribe to the theory of abiogenesis, or the non-organic origins of oil. But even if this hypothesis is correct, the raw materials that oil is made of are also finite just like everything else. See also this for some background on 'peak oil'.

3. Actually, the Earth is a net importer of energy and materials, it's what makes planets so special as they operate anti-entropically unlike practically everything else in the universe. All the energy sources on Earth originate from the sun (it's energy production is scheduled to 'peak' in 5 billion years time). And we also get millions of tons of elements entering the Earth's atmosphere from outer space every year in the form of meteorites and other space debris.

4. Although competition between economies was one of the essential causes of the two World Wars, in both cases oil acted as a catalyst. In the First world War it was Germany's push Eastward where it threatened the British Empire's possessions and access to resources. In the second, Hitler's invasions, also Eastward, was essential to fuel his armies and later, it was the US embargo on Japan's access to oil, also in the East, that signaled the attack on Pearl Harbor.

5. In any case, the 'cost' is determined not by the actual cost of extracting it, but by what price it commands on the world market. Were oil to become so expensive, whether through actual shortages or like now, through economic downturn, that its consumption dropped radically, wouldn't that be good thing? We might then be forced to turn to alternative sources, like gas or any number of alternatives. Were there the will to do so.

Strategic Culture

William Bowles is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by William Bowles

© Copyright William Bowles, Global Research, 2010

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in