Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Black Stains on Our National Character

In major oil producing nations the print media covers the ebb and flow of the international oil market. The press in the US, Iran, Mexico, Canada, Iraq, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Russia and so on pour over every detail which comes out of the IEA.

What's the IEA? The International Energy Authority. You didn't know? Perhaps that's because the Scottish press doesn't cover oil economics and politics. Indeed, one has to mine the English press for real oil stories. Wonder why? See my recent entry on Fool's Gold.

It's to the English paper The Guardian then that we must turn for the most recent scoop on oil. Energy editor Terry Macalister filed this story:

'Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower'

By contrast, in this - a Westminster by-election week our old friend David 'Mad-Dog' Maddox of Das Schottishman prioritises such major issues affecting Scotland like:

'Taxpayers helped Alex Salmond to treat dentist'

So, what sort of oil story is irrelevant to a major oil producing nation like Scotland then? Only the approaching collapse of the global industrial economy - nothing serious you understand. Oil is in everything from nylon, fuels, lubricants, plastics, detergents, solvents, elastomers, fibers, polyesters etc. Every day would not be the same without it. That's why there are wars in the Middle-East and tensions in Central Asia, Eastern Europe and increasingly in South America etc. (keep an eye on Venezuela and them new US military bases in Columbia.)

What does a global post-industrial economy look like? Try reading Dmitry Orlov's riveting blog on the subject. Let's just say life is going to be nothing like it is now. When the price of oil reaches around 6% of GDP an economy starts contracting. As it runs out prices will go through the roof until it becomes so expensive that demand will collapse. It can't be replaced. Nuclear energy can't run cars and by the time we have the alternative energies to keep some of the industrial economy going, and even if it is cheap enough, the industrial economy will be gone anyway.

According to The Guardian mole the huge influence of the gas dependent Americans on the IEA has led to an overestimation of existing and future supplies:

"The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying."

The US wouldn't tell fibs about oil would they? Those wars really are about terrorism, no? And the US poodle doesn't need its own figures when it has the IEA's:

"The British government, among others, always uses the IEA statistics rather than any of its own to argue that there is little threat to long-term oil supplies."

(Unless it's North Sea Oil that is, cough cough. That runs out before every election involving Scotland.)

Anyway, if this is happening faster than we thought then this is a huge story and impacts on Scotland now and must be central to our economic planning.

A little reminder from The Independent about historical importance of oil to the UK economy:

"..while we are apt to attribute the sudden spurt in Britain's prosperity in the mid- to late-1980s to a deregulated and reinvigorated City, it owed far more to the massive windfall from the North Sea. "

The point is though that there is no staged movement towards a 'post-industrial economy' so dependency will continue until another crisis ensues. In the meantime prices are going to spike. This could and should be Scotland's big chance to get out of bankrupt Britain.

As the US's partner in global mayhem, Britain is not going to make such sensible preparations for future generations. As for we Scots, that role must be assumed by an independent Scotland.

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