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Oil: When will we open our eyes?

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In 2005 an event occurred which should have sent shock waves throughout the world. The Kuwaiti Government admitted that the Burgan oil field had reached peak production at 1.7 million barrels a day. The world’s second biggest oil field was in decline. The main stream media did not take notice. In fact, it seems that no one did. A google search will find just one article reporting the story.

The third largest field in the world, Mexico’s Cantarell, peaked in 2006 and production has fallen at an alarming rate. The chief executive of the state oil company Pemex expects production to fall by 14% per anum until 2015. Oil production peaked in the United States in 1971 and has been declining consistently ever since, despite the many billions spent on new technologies and advanced exploration techniques. Production in the North Sea peaked at the turn of the millennium, despite the discovery of the 500 million Buzzard field in 1999. At present consumption, this field would supply the world for a little over five weeks. Oil production is also falling in Venezuela and Russia.

The oil price is now at an astonishing $135 per barrel. It hovered at or below 25 dollars a barrels for much of the ’80s and 90’s. During the Iran-Iraq war and the first Gulf war Saudi Arabia, at the behest of their American paymasters, opened the taps on their giant fields flooding the market with oil. Prices soon began to fall. Saudi Arabia’s famed spare capacity ensured a relatively stable oil price for much of the last twenty years. Why then have they not flooded the market to ease the present crisis?

Why have none of the major oil producers increased their production? The price, after all, has never been better. The answer may be that the Saudis too are close to their peak. Saudi Arabian production appears to have fallen in recent years and it seems likely that the biggest oil field in the world, Ghawar, is at or near peak production.

If the biggest fields in the world are running out, where are we going to find more oil? Production is declining at a steady pace in the US, China and Europe, so demand for Middle Eastern and Caspian oil is only going to increase.

Peak oil, rather like the theory of evolution, is much maligned today. I humbly suggest that we should not necessarily believe everything that the preachers and oil executives tell us about their particular areas of interest. When Marion King Hubbert predicted that US oil production would peak in the early 1970s, he was laughed at by the ‘experts’. He was, of course, vindicated. I hear that the church too has recently apologised to Galileo. He was, it appears, right all along. The world is not actually at the centre of the universe. The loudest and most respected voices are not always correct. Oil is not a magical substance dropped into our volcanoes by Lord Xenu. It is a finite resource, created millions of years ago. We have got to face the uncomfortable reality that we have used about half of the oil on the planet, and that the remaining oil will be more difficult to find and cost a fortune to produce. Forget about global warming and the global credit crunch, this is the problem that will define the next century. What do we do after peak oil? Someone better find the answer quick or we are in for rather unpleasant future.


Written by dermotk

June 22, 2008 at 10:20 pm

What have we become?!

with 2 comments

This video explains the problem with the modern Conservative movement better than anything else I have seen. Enjoy!

Written by dermotk

February 9, 2008 at 10:58 pm

Posted in politics, USA

The Iron Lady

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“There is no such thing as society only individuals and their families.” Margaret Thatcher

It is amazing how much stick Maggie got for this simple statement of fact. If you do believe that society exists, I would sure like to see a picture of it, or know its address. Individuals quite clearly exist, they can be seen and heard. Sometimes individuals join together to form families, which also clearly exist.

Society is very different. I do not think I need to explain the differences between Society and a family. But just to make it clear, we do not marry everyone else in our neighborhood!

Individuals and families do, of course, cooperate together. They form laws to protect themselves for one thing. They also raise taxes in order to fund certain projects which they feel will benefit everyone. It is a social construction, a good one I may add, but it is nothing more. It does not exist in the same way an individual exists, and therefore should not have the same rights as an individual and certainly should not be able to take these rights away from the individual.

What do people think of this quote?

Written by dermotk

February 8, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Posted in philosophy, politics

The eroding of our Freedoms

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Ireland is, for all its faults, a pretty free country. The PC brigade has not yet infested our Government and media, and the Christians are, largely, keeping themselves to themselves. For this we should count ourselves lucky. Certain Christians in the US have decided, unilaterally, that the word ‘holiday’ is an unacceptable utterance in the month of December. It’s something to do with Satan or Michael Moore, I forget which. These great free marketers have thus decided that any business which dares to use this ‘obscenity’ should be punished.

The PC brigade is of course following a similar agenda. Britain seems to have a particularly bad dose of this disease. There are too many examples to count, feast your eyes on these. Libertarians and Classical Liberals tend to focus on economic issues, and do not, in general, take these issues with the seriousness they deserve. Social control is, I believe, every bit as dangerous as economic control. The PC/Christian agenda aims to create a completely mono-cultural society, where everyone is expected to think, behave, and live as the Government proscribes. Resistance is simply not tolerated.

This may seem to be in the realms of fantasy, but just look at Saudi Arabia, North Korea etc. for real world examples of this state control. As libertarians, we have got to defend our freedoms to the hilt, any attack on them, such as the Patriot Act in the US, or Race ‘Hate’ laws everywhere, should not be accepted. These are our freedoms, the Government has a duty to defend them, but should have no authority to alter them.

Written by dermotk

February 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm

A different viewpoint

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What do people think of this? Sweatshops are an area of Capitalism which no one would defend, however whether we like it or not, they do bring certain benefits to their host countries. Capitalism is not perfect, but no other system has improved the lives of so many people. Poverty is ever present in the world, but Capitalism gives people the opportunity, through their own ingenuity, to improve their lives.

Written by dermotk

February 7, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Posted in economics, poverty

Nationalism: Good or Evil?

with 7 comments

Nationalism has become a difficult concept in the Western World. Much like sex in the 19th century, it is seen as a base urge, and not something to be portrayed openly by any self respecting individual. Our conception of nationalism has been profoundly influenced by events in the north. A nationalist, to us, is a drunken lout in a Celtic jersey singing bigoted songs in the back of a pub, or a masked terrorist in the process of, or at least planning to, blow something up.

In light of the rabid nationalism in the north (both green and orange) anti-nationalism has become all the rage in the south. Column after column in our national newspapers deride and pour scorn on Irish nationalism. Revisionists trawl through our history books intent on undermining every belief that our national identity is based on. In many cases, this anti-nationalism can be as ridiculous and fanatical as it’s opponent. For example, Ian O’Doherty’s diatribe against four old men who happen to be pretty decent musicians. (about 3.30 mins in)

So what about the rest of us? Those who are happy Collins et al. Fought and created an independent Ireland, but are not interested in flag waving or learning Gaelic, a language we feel is as useful to us as Esperanto. Can we legitimately call ourselves nationalists?

Well it depends, of course, on what type of nationalism you are referring to. There are many explanations for the rise of nationalism. Some argue that, with the rise of Capitalism, people interacted together at a far greater rate than ever before. People in the agricultural societies of the past generally only dealt with people in their own village and immediate locality. This increased association helped foster the modern idea of a nation comprising of a great number of people spread over a great geographical area.

It is also argued that nationalism was fostered by political leaders. Napoleon realised that patriotism gave him access to a greater number of soldiers than ever before, people who were willing to lay down their lives for the nation of France. Whatever the reasons, there is no doubt that nationalism exists, and that the great majority of people ‘feel’ it to some extent. Nationalism, however, is not homogeneous, and the modern nationalists in Sinn Fein and the DUP only represent one aspect of it.

There have long been two accepted forms of nationalism: Cultural/ethnic nationalism and Civic nationalism. David Brown defines them as follows. Cultural nationalism refers to, ‘a sense of community which focuses on beliefs in myths of common ancestry; and on the perception that these myths are validated by contemporary similarities of Physiognomy, language or religion. The similarities with the nationalisms of Northern Ireland are obvious. For Brown Civic nationalism is a sense where, ‘‘all citizens, irrespective of their diverse ancestry, comprise a community with a common destiny’. This is the type of nationalism, I and most people would subscribe to.

What relevance does this have to libertarian thought? Michel Foucault argues that the 18th century heralded a change in the very nature of power. Foucault’s argument is very complex, but basically he argues that the state became like a father at the head of a family. Like the father, the state controls almost every aspect of it’s citizen’s lives. It is required to provide for every need of the people, as well as controlling what the people are allowed to do. This whole argument is based, as you can see, on the idea that a state is a family, that we are connected by a universal bloodline or culture.

One of ethnic nationalism’s first proponents was Johann Gottfried Herder. He argued that a nation was a broad family. Everybody was born into a Volk, a large community of people who were connected by a bloodline, culture and language. This Volk was to be the base of the nation. The symbiotic relationship between this cultural nationalism and the modern form of ‘cradle to grave’ government is strong.

Enlightenment thought can be seen as counter to this later Romantic thought of ethnic nationalism. Rousseau in his seminal book ‘Discourse on Political Economy’, strongly argued against basing the idea of the nation on the family. His contemporaries, such as Montesquieu were in agreement. The state was seen as resting on the voluntary consent of the people. They were united in their belief in freedom from tyranny, not by any cultural or ethnic similarities.

Cultural/ethnic nationalism and authoritarian governance have been synonymous throughout history. It is only Civic nationalists like the American founding fathers and our own Wolfe Tone, who were the true advancers of freedom. They had no interest in the ethnic and cultural ideas which dominate modern nationalist discourse.

Written by dermotk

February 3, 2008 at 11:05 pm