This blog began with oil – its role in the global economy and social order, and the implications of an impending peak and subsequent decline in worldwide oil production. However, the effects of globally constrained oil supplies have upstaged Peak Oil itself in the public consciousness of the First World. Our ongoing, accelerating economic collapse is certainly not boring, is it?
Yet Peak Oil hasn't gone away, and there is new evidence that the world is past peak. For instance, according to the Barents Observer, Russian oil production decreased last year for the first time in 10 years, suggesting that Russia has indeed passed its own peak production. Russia has recently become the world's foremost producer of oil, passing even Saudi Arabia. The reality that Russia is past peak means that there are only three major nations who are supposedly still able to increase production: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. It is a well-known fact that these three nations vastly inflated their reserves estimates during the 1980's without providing any proof for their inflated reserve figures. Therefore, they may in fact be unable to raise their production of oil. Also, Merrill Lynch recently issued a statement that in their estimation, non-OPEC production may have already peaked. (Sources: http://www.barentsobserver.com/russian-oil-production-down.4542842-16178.html, http://www.marketrap.com/article/view_article/9147/peak-oil-production-in-russia-suggests-worldwide-supplies-on-the-brink, http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2009/02/03/afx6002345.html)
Against this backdrop, some members of the U.S. Congress are doing some very strange things. For instance, the Senate killed a budget amendment to the Obama stimulus that would have increased general transportation spending by $25 billion and mass transit spending by $5 billion. In its place, an amendment will be introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer and James Inhofe to give $50 billion to highways alone. Then there's the Senate approval of a budget amendment introduced by Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski that would allow consumers who buy new cars to get a tax rebate on their auto loans. (Source: http://thetransportpolitic.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/disaster-in-the-senate/) This is very strange – and very stupid. Our government is making some extremely short-sighted choices in order to prop up an unsustainable, collapsing system for just a little longer.
There is one other item of rather bizarre news. Fortune Magazine recently published a short piece titled, “A Recession of Biblical Proportions,” in which the writer asserted that present and recent consumer behavior is running contrary to the Biblical pattern seen in Genesis, when Egypt enjoyed seven years of plenty, saving during those years, then endured seven years of famine in which the nation lived off its savings. (The article is here: http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/02/news/economy/colvin_depression.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2009020210) The article is really a very thinly-disguised plea to consumers to go out and start spending again, and it ends with the following warning: “Whatever happens, don't expect miracles. Spending and saving behavior evolves slowly, and our current mess is in some ways the culmination of a long journey. We may not suddenly start behaving with biblical wisdom. But at least let's try not to forget how bad things can be when we get spending and saving backward.”
Now I am a Christian, and I have read the Bible a number of times, and I can tell you that I see nothing un-Biblical about the behavior of most American consumers who have stopped spending because their backs are against the wall, because those who sold them things did so in order to rob and enslave them, because they are beginning to see the evils of consumer culture, and because they are discovering that they really don't need all the mass-produced junk that's being pushed on them by the overlords of our global economy. But it is somewhat amusing that the writers of Fortune Magazine (and the masters who own them) are trying to use the Bible to get me to go out and spend money that would be better used in helping me adapt to a breaking system.
I'd like to quote a few passages from the Good Book to the writers and editors at Fortune: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” (1 Timothy 6:10); “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God,” (Matthew 19:24); and of course, the passage in Luke 16 about Lazarus and the rich man, which I will leave for the writers at Fortune to read for themselves. One day they will find out just how flammable their money is.