Michael Klare in Portland, 21-April-2006

Fourth event of the Illahee Oil + Water lecture series last night, with Michael Klare, an expert on war and defense issues.

Klare laid out a four point argument for why oil is a particularly dangerous resource at this time.

1. The economics of oil – it provides 40% of US energy and 75% of transportation energy. Cheap oil is the basis of American resource-intensive ‘culture’.

2. Geology – the remaining sources of ‘easy’ oil are going to peak, sooner or slightly later. The alternative sources are costly to extract and require much more processing.

3. Geographic – the countries with easy oil are unstable and undemocratic, are all distant from the US, and increasingly risky.

4. Geo-political – Iraq was created by the British after WWI as an oil-producing state, and the US is now attempting to hold it together for the same reason. The US is hated in Iran for having installed the Shah, who jailed and tortured members of the Shiite clergy. The US has an ‘unholy alliance’ with the House of Saud. All this appears to mean that the US Armed Forces have been turned into an oil protection service.

Klare denounced the Cheney energy plan as one that uses public funds to subsidize ‘big oil’ as they attempt to find additional sources, and it ignores any action on developing alternatives for twenty years. By that time he feels the oil crisis will be so far along that the lack of investment in alternatives will spell doom for the future generation.

His recommendation was to develop non-partisan appeals that go beyond the logic of ‘peak oil’ and hit on American patriotism and care for the future generation to start taking action. He believes that America is now quite ready for leadership on this issue.

As he put it, the existential crisis question is whether America will fight to the bitter end for its current ‘lifestyle’ (literally sending its young to war around the world), or if it can shift to a lower resource-use position. We shall see…

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