Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two More Planets Found


But that is what we need,

if the rest of the world is to live

like our part of the world.

Worldwatch has issued its annual State of the World

and that is its conclusion.

Here is the story.

'Find a couple of spare planets or face global oil war'
Times Online
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor

THE world faces the real threat of a new conflict over oil as China competes with existing world powers for scarce resources to feed its growing economy, according to a report published today.

The State of the World 2006, released by the Worldwatch Institute, says that last year China became the second- largest importer of oil, after the US, while consuming

26 per cent of the world’s steel,

32 per cent of rice production,

37 per cent of cotton and

47 per cent of cement.

China is set to become the world’s largest carmaker in the coming decade.

While environmentalists are concerned about the impact on the world’s climate and the drain on its resources, strategists fear that the competition for energy, particularly oil, could destabilise the planet.

According to the report, China was nearly self-sufficient in oil in the mid-1990s. But over the past decade its consumption has doubled and it has now overtaken Japan as the second-largest importer of oil, with 3.2 million barrels a day in 2004.

It predicts that if the economies of China and India continue to grow at their current rate, the world will not be able to produce enough oil to meet demand by 2050, when consumption will have grown from the current 85 million barrels a day to 200 million barrels. “Few geologists believe that output will reach even half those levels before beginning to decline,” the report says.

As a result China is already looking for new oil suppliers from Siberia to Sudan, often dealing with notorious regimes, such as the junta in Burma. Of even greater concern is the possibility that open conflict could break out between nations competing for resources or trying to protect their supply lines, such as key trade routes, currently patrolled by the US Navy.

The report draws the parallel between Japan in the 1930s and China today. It recalls that it was Japan’s inability to secure its oil supplies from South-East Asia that prompted its entry into the Second World War.

Today Beijing is strengthening its Navy to protect its energy supplies, shipped at great distances from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

“The prospect of countries ranging from the United States and China to Japan and Saudi Arabia — together with the world’s terrorists — vying for physical control of the world’s oil does not sound like a prescription for global security,” the Worldwatch report says.

Christopher Flavin, the Worldwatch president, says in a preface to the report,

“Unless we find a couple of spare planets in the next few decades, neither of these projections will come to pass . . .

We therefore face a choice:

Rethink almost everything, or risk a downward spiral of political competition and economic collapse,” he says. "

Chris is an old good friend of mine.

He is not given to hyperbole.

We need to rethink everything.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly how do we rethink everything? So much of what we believe has been constructed from centuries of belief.

I wonder if our institutions can respond to these challenges?

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are so close to the brink.

You are hot these days - the creative way that you use a simple idea to lead into the bigger story. The image - haunting.

7:14 AM  

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