The Plausible Scenario
Thanks to Global Public Media and the Energy Bulletin, here is part of a report by Richard Bell, Communications Director for the Post Carbon Institute, on this week's hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
"This morning the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources launched its New Year with an unusual hearing into “The Geopolitics of Oil.”
The consensus conclusion of the witnesses: the United States is in deep, deep trouble, facing the emergence of an “axis of oil” that threatens to recreate the bi-polar world of the Cold War, complete with Russia as a principal actor.
Normally the Committee deals with less weighty matters, like fuel efficiency standards for cars. But the incoming chairman, Senator Jeff Bingaman, decided to go for the big picture, and the big picture is not pretty.
There was an almost palpable sense of graveness and alarm that lent a chill to the room. The vice chair of Goldman Sachs, Robert Hormats, was one of the witnesses, as was the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, Dr. Fatih Birol, so this was hardly a “green” group.
One Senator described the testimony as “frightening.” And the outgoing Republican chair, Senator Domenici (R-NM), said that “what you told us today is absolutely startling with reference to the future.”
There appeared to be a genuine sense that some members really were surprised at how bad things look for the U.S. The shock was so great that after declaring himself a “free-market conservative,” Republican Jeff Sessions (R-AL) concluded the session by admitting that if you looked at energy as a national security issue rather than as a market commodity, Congress might be justified in spending more money on energy R&D and tax credits.
The focus of the testimony was on oil in the transportation sector, which will be responsible for most of the predicted increase in demand over the next two decades. Dr. Fatih Birol described this dependence on oil in the auto, truck, and plane sectors as “the Achilles heel” of the energy problem.
Linda Stuntz, who participated in a Council of Foreign Relations report last fall on “National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency,” stunned the Senators when she said that there was consensus among the report’s authors that talking about “energy independence” for the United States was chasing an impossible dream.
Stuntz said that it was not clear whether the U.S. could achieve energy independence even with the most “draconian” government interventions. Dr. Flynt Leverett from the New America Foundation echoed Stuntz’s analysis:
“…there is no economically plausible scenario for a strategically meaningful reduction in the dependence of the United States and its allies on imported hydrocarbons during the next quarter century.” more
There is no economically plausible scenario?
What does that leave?
Yes, a devastating, but winnable war for the last half of the oil becomes by default "the only plausible scenario" in the minds of many.
While building plug in hybrid cars, and developing advanced ultra capacitors, and applying nano based third generation photon to electron coverings to all of the built environment that receives radiation from the sun on a war time basis is an impossible dream?
I'm pretty certain that I prefer an enlightened impossible dream to a dark ages nightmare.
As do most all of us.
Last night, the POTUS called for more military, more violence,
and more death to bring Peace.
But to bring peace, we must, well, bring Peace.
And the nations are simply not capable of this.
"We the People" must therefore bring this Peace,
into our hearts, into our lives, and to our institutions.
And we need to create "new inventions of social contract".
Yesterday, I had lunch with a leading environmental leader.
We discussed Climate Change, water issues, energy issues,
and even the third rail of enviro politics... growth.
No one argues that the basis of our Capitalist system is growth.
And yet, that foundation will soon crumble from its collision course
with Climate Change and Resource Depletion.
To build on this foundation would be pure folly.
We should begin today to reshape our lives,
to transform our carbon based energy systems,
to revamp our economic system of mass consumption and waste,
to reform our political system of division and violence,
and to transmute our spiritual system of separation,
into a living integrated whole.
That is the only plausible scenario.
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