Today’s hypocrisy. Looking at the headlines of various newspapers today I saw news of a ‘massacre’ and a ‘bloodbath’ in Saudi Arabia by Al Qaeda. It was a brutal hostage-taking operation that was done, and certainly it was both a massacre and a bloodbath. I didn’t notice these media outlets calling what Israel did in Rafah a ‘bloodbath’ or what the US is doing in Najaf right now a ‘massacre’.
An interesting article in the Independent speculates about the possible implications for the world economy if the Saudi regime gets into real trouble. The Saudi regime is a real anomaly in the world. It is the definition of an imperial gas station: virtually created to be that. One book on the topic, quite old, is ‘Arabia Without Sultans’, I think by Halliday, and another one called ‘A House Built on Sand’. There’s a novel called ‘Cities of Salt’ that is a classic, by an author who was exiled for writing it and actually passed on recently. Both books are hard to get your hands on, but well worth it. Since neither are recent though, it’s important to note that Saudi Arabia is the swing producer that has the power to make sure world oil markets go the way the US wants them to go. It can bust any quota. No other country comes close in terms of sheer endowment of oil, and that’s why it’s so firmly under the thumb of the US. Some believe that the Iraq invasion was to try to give the US some extra leverage over the Saudis by gaining direct control over another major producer. There’s more…
But oil consumption has increased so much and so continuously that even Saudi Arabia can’t keep up, and if the Iraqi resistance keeps on keeping Iraqi oil from flowing (pipelines are very difficult to defend — all the brutality of the US/Colombian paramilitary regime can’t defend the pipelines from being blown up in that country) then there won’t be capacity enough to keep prices down. Rahul Mahajan blogged a little about this recently.
There is a lot of conservation literature (some of it rather poor science, like Rifkin’s ‘Hydrogen Economy’, which somehow neglects to emphasize that while hydrogen might be a good way to store energy, you have to generate electricity from some other source to create hydrogen; but some of it better than that, like Amory Lovins’s work on ‘soft energy paths’ in the 1970s) that could be brought to bear to avert the numerous catastrophic possibilities of the path we’re on (one is simply running out of oil so that people freeze in the dark; another is climate change). But that would take some rather serious political changes.