The View from Hubbert's Peak
The View from Hubbert's Peak
Angry truckers celebrated this May Day by blocking freeways in
In one action, abandoned big rigs blocked the morning commute just south of downtown
Perhaps it is. As
Although real (inflation-adjusted) fuel prices are still well below their 1981 maximum, an ever-growing chorus of voices, ranging from former UK environment minister Michael Meacher to National Geographic magazine, echo Ramirez. We will soon arrive, they claim, at the summit of "Hubbert's peak."
M. King Hubbert was a celebrated oil geologist who in 1956 correctly prophesized that
If the curve of global oil production is indeed near the point of descent, as these experts believe, it has epochal implications for the world economy. More expensive oil will undercut
Most of all, it will devastate the economies of oil-importing third-world countries. Poor farmers will be unable to purchase petroleum-based artificial fertilizers just as poor urban-dwellers will be unable to afford bus fares. (Already, rising oil prices have brought chronic blackouts to cities throughout the globe's southern hemisphere.)
The only certain beneficiaries of this coming economic chaos will be the big five oil corporations and their corrupt partners: the Nigerian generals, Saudi princes, Russian kleptocrats, and their ilk. Crude oil truly will become black gold.
The rising value of an increasingly scarce resource is a form of monopoly rent, and a future permanent crude-oil regime of $50 per barrel (or higher) would transfer at least $1 trillion per decade from consumers to oil producers. In plain English, this would be the greatest robbery by a rentier elite in world history. Someday, Enron may seem like the equivalent of a liquor store hold-up by comparison.
The oilmen in the White House, of course, have the best view of the lush terrain on the far side of Hubbert's peak. No wonder, then, that a map of the 'war against terrorism' corresponds with such uncanny accuracy to the geography of oil fields and proposed pipelines. From
To cite two recent, almost random examples: First, the Malaysian foreign minister warned in late May that Washington was exaggerating the threat of terrorist piracy in the Straits of Malacca in order to justify the deployment of forces there -- right at the chokepoint of East Asia's oil supply.
Second, T. Christian Miller, reporting in the Los Angeles Times, revealed that U.S. Special Forces, as well as the CIA and private American security contractors, are integrally involved in an ongoing reign of terror in
"Mass arrests of politicians and union leaders have become common. Refugees fleeing combat have streamed into local cities. And killings have soared as right-wing paramilitaries have targeted leftwing critics."
Is there a pattern here? Indeed, is there a
Thus John Kerry has waffled between advocating an energy version of Fortress
Too bad. A genuinely progressive candidate might have found a rich precedent in the proceedings of a celebrated 1930s Senate investigation into the role of the international arms trade in fomenting war and intervention. The Nye Committee, named after the senator from
Mike Davis is the author of Dead Cities: And Other Tales, Ecology of Fear, and co-author of Under the Perfect Sun: the San Diego Tourists Never See, among other books.
Copyright C2004 Mike Davis
[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing and author of The End of Victory Culture and The Last Days of Publishing.]