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A Soldier had to Tell Us We’re Going to Run Out of Oil

May 13th, 2010

Why are we as a species so incredibly short-sighted? There is a Native American saying (along the lines) that mankind will only realise there’s something wrong when there are no more fish in the sea, and we can’t eat money, and of course the Easter Islanders famously cut down their last tree, with Jarred Diamond kicking off his book ‘Collapse’ with the question “What on earth were they thinking when they did that?” and yet talk about Peak Oil has often been dismissed as hysterical. There is only one source that would really be taken seriously by such skeptics: if the US military say something is a problem, then it must be True.

So if you’re one of those skeptics, you can’t claim it’s just loonies like Archdruid John Michael Greer who has been tracking this issue on his excellent blog and in his book The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World. Here’s a quote from Sunday’s Guardian:

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: “While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India.”

The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with “an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments.”

The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk.

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