Recently I watched the movie "Wall Street" in
which Gordon Gekko, the ruthless and greedy corporate raider, proclaims that
"greed is good". This great movie caused me to reflect on just how
our nation and our society now seem to be completely under the spell of extreme
materialism and rampant consumerism. Warnings abound relative to the escalating
threat of global warming and the specter of huge petroleum shortages (Peak Oil)
likely to happen to our planet in the near future.
But we in America, in particular, continue with our habits
of non-stop consuming and wastefulness, seemingly oblivious and uncaring relative
to the dangers that will face us far sooner than we can now imagine.
Planet Earth has now been ravaged by the effects of 6.2-plus
billion humans that have ravenously fed on its resources and this has resulted
in widespread pollution and contamination. This increasingly deteriorating
situation shows no sign of letting up any time soon. Of all the damaging
effects upon our planet, none have been more damaging and harmful than the
excessive and wasteful habits and lifestyles of we Americans. In this regard,
this society is head and shoulders above the rest of the world and yet we
almost seem to be flaunting this very troubling, unflattering reputation, as
witnessed by our government's continual refusal to be a part of any serious
world efforts to curb harmful emissions into the atmosphere or to provide any
leadership in serious programs of conservation.
The majority of Americans have been totally conditioned and
brainwashed to the degree that we now, as a society, fully accept our role as
highly motivated, programmed consumers. We have developed into constant
consumers with a voracious appetite that wants more and more; an appetite that,
unfortunately, also results in associated unnecessary and irresponsible debt.
I honestly do not think that there is much of anything that
this society will do to change its ways because to do that, considering the
long way that we have now come on this wrong road, would require fairly radical
change and dedicated sacrifice. That is just not likely to happen, especially since
we have national leaders and the corporate-controlled media that are masters at
beating the drums to motivate us to shop until we drop -- so that we can help
to increase already bloated corporate profits and keep this non-manufacturing
economy functioning by using smoke and mirrors and by financial manipulations
rather than by producing real products for export.
But, I can envision a new dimension entering our lives in
which other forces and planetary conditions may well cause a change in our
lifestyles for the better -- and it will be accomplished whether we take part
or not and then we will become merely passengers heading into new directions. I
believe that this will come about when we are literally forced to make these
necessary changes that are simply critical to our future, as well as the future
of the world community and this planet -- by forces over which we will have no
Here is how Peak Oil will transform this planet and the
Most of the world's prominent geologists and petroleum
experts now acknowledge that Peak Oil, that time when the world's demand for
petroleum will overwhelm total production capacities, is now looming on our
horizon and will occur in the very near future, possibly by the year 2012. When
Peak Oil actually manifests itself the lifestyles of every nation and people on
this planet will change -- slowly at first and then quite dramatically. And
America, the nation that consumes about 22 percent of all petroleum produced in
the world, will bear the brunt of this phenomenon's effects.
There are, of course, many doubters and detractors that
argue vehemently that those that promote the idea that Peak Oil is inevitable
are loonies and doomsayers; that the entire world should totally ignore them
and "carry on business as usual." Well, let's consider that the
worldwide demand for petroleum is about 85 million barrels per day -- and the
world oil production has been running at just about the same rate. So we now
seem to have parity between demand and production. However, the world demand is
expected to continue to rapidly escalate, largely due to the enormous growth of
the economies of China, India and other nations, while production is reaching
its peak. There are little to no discoveries of new reserves and the threat of
sabotage and military confrontations is a constant threat to supply.
Therefore, in this writing I will proceed with the premise
that Peak Oil is truly a reality and that it is inevitable, because the
majority of the research that I have seen most definitely supports it. Since I
know far more about America than the world community of nations, I will
concentrate on just how Peak Oil will impact America, our entire economy and
our daily lives.
I want to make it clear that I do not believe that Peak Oil
will bring complete chaos to America and the world. The fact is that as demand
for petroleum outstrips production, the impact will be steady and constantly
increasing; something that we will not be able to just shake off and do
business as usual. It will be pervasive, it will not go away, it will demand
that we change our habits, lifestyles and will affect everything we do.
As Peak Oil evolves the impact will be felt in the majority
of the nations on our planet. The only nations that will not be severely
affected by this atrophy of the production capacity will be the major oil
producing nations who, of course, will guarantee their own supply before they
worry about maintaining exports and profits as they fully comprehend the scope
of the problem. A November 30, 2007, report issued by the investment firm
Lehman brothers indicated that: "Consumption of oil in countries that are
members of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, should grow
4.4 percent to 370,000 barrels per day in 2008, putting the producer group
behind only China in terms of incremental demand growth."
After the initial shock of Peak Oil, oil-dependent nations
will quickly respond by reviewing their agreements with oil-producing sources
and will immediately try to make up any shortfalls by negotiating new
agreements. Oil-producing nations will be swamped by suitors of all kinds and
the ensuing negotiations and agreements that emerge, based upon various
geopolitical factors, cannot be predicted. China, in particular, has already
been very active in cementing new oil agreements in Africa and South America.
The U.S. has taken a completely different course by making itself a dominant,
occupying force in Iraq with the goal of controlling the petroleum resources of
that entire Middle East region.
As many of the oil-producing nations use more oil themselves
and guarantee their own supply, it will have an immediate effect upon the
fleets of oil tankers plying the oceans that form the supply chain to the U.S.
and other nations of the world. The current number of tankers in the entire
world fleet is around 3,500 -- they, collectively, transport about 43 million
barrels of oil per day (mbpd) which is about half of the daily world demand of
85 mbpd. This massive traffic will begin to slow down -- it will not shut down
by any means, but the effect will be a de-escalating one on supply, as Peak Oil
steadily becomes a stark reality.
As this process continues to develop, there will be
increasing interruptions of petroleum shipments to our nation that will have a
direct, damaging effect on land transportation in our nation. The initial
impact will be on our giant trucking industry wherein millions of commercial
trucks carry every imaginable type of product over our extensive interstate and
local transportation systems; trucks that, collectively, travel about 90
billion miles annually. The current massive China to Wal-Mart supply chain that
exists via ocean shipments and interstate transport will begin a steady
decline. All of the big-box retailers, indeed the entire retail sector of the
economy, will be dealt a direct blow because they are so overly dependent upon
One recent article predicated that our society will once
again begin to look like the society of the 1950s when life was simpler, slower
paced and far less consumer-driven. In the upcoming scenario our supermarkets
won't be so super. Instead of choosing between the huge numbers of different
cereals, breads, canned goods and many, many other products currently on the
shelves, our choices will be far simpler as the offerings will shrink
drastically. Far fewer trucks will clog our highway system and railroads will
re-emerge as a major, far less expensive way to move goods. The era of suburban
sprawl and the 100-mile round trip daily auto commute will begin to dry up.
High school seniors won't be driving their own cars to schools and the four to
five-car family will disappear. Soccer moms will get far more rest, as their
hectic delivery schedules of kids to all sorts of activities will be greatly
curtailed. Airlines will be hard-pressed to continue profitable operations as
the costs of fuel will continue to escalate while, at the same time, Americans
will be forced to curtail travel by air.
As Peak Oil enters our daily existence it will be an
unexpected shock to our system, but I really believe it can have a positive
effect on our nation in the long run. As Peak Oil continues on its path, I
think that America will find itself at a very critical crossroads that will
determine our very future. We will be asked to do more and more to alter our
lifestyles such as increasing our conservation and recycling, curtailing the
buying and driving of bloated, gas wasting vehicles, living in mega-mansions
that needlessly waste heating resources, among many other ways to rein in our
Of significance is that Peak Oil, with its ominous and
threatening impact upon the entire world, may be the biggest boon in beginning
the process of reversing the specter of Global Warming -- that emerging
planet-threatening condition whereby the earth's surface temperature is
increasing. The majority of world-class climate scientists have concluded that
this warming is most certainly caused by human activity (mainly from internal
combustion autos and trucks) and that the associated C02 emissions are among
the greatest causes that must be drastically reduced. So Peak Oil and the steps
we must take to solve its effects upon our society will naturally contribute to
also slowing down the escalation of Global Warming.
How this rapidly developing, ominous scenario will be
addressed by this nation will determine the quality of our future existence. If
we rise to the occasion and respond in very positive and innovative ways, then
we will be able to cope with the specter of Peak Oil and we will be survivors.
If we do not have the will and courage to make these significant changes to our
lifestyles, then we will seal our fate and Peak Oil and Global Warming will
overcome this nation.
At one point, in the movie "Wall Street," Bud Fox,
the young corporate-raider trainee, asks his mentor, Gekko, "Just how much
is enough?" and Gekko replies, "It is never enough." But in
America today, enough is enough! Our rampant non-stop consumerism and
materialism simply cannot and will not be sustainable.
our planet struggles mightily to combat the ecological damage that it has been
dealt by humanity, we humans are being given a very distinct challenge. Will we
meet this challenge? Can we change, will we change, or will we continue on our
present course that can only lead to a disastrous conclusion? The normal
succession of future generations hangs in the balance. Planet Earth awaits our