29 May 2010

What Happens after Peak Oil?

Miller-McCune interviews Jörg Friedrichs, lecturer in politics at Oxford, in "Peak Oil and Apocalypse Then." What happens globally after Peak Oil?  Friedrichs suggests that states are likely to adopt one of three strategies:

1) "Predatory militarism" in order to secure additional oil supplies.  Friedrichs points here to the example of Japan in 1941, and suggests that the U.S. may be prone to take this approach. (In fact, this sounds awfully familiar. Dick Cheney and Iraq, anyone?)

2) Looting of the populace by the power elite (as foreshadowed by North Korea).

3) "Local solidarity." Friedrichs here cites the example of Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Are the U.S. and Western Europe likely to take this tack?  Friedrich says:
JG: Strictly speaking, it’s not so much a problem of
the West but of a particular lifestyle. When social glue and
traditional lifestyles have eroded, they are not easily recovered. After
several generations of individualism and affluence, Westerners will
have a hard time accepting that they need to rely on communities and
must revert to a sustainable lifestyle. After 65 years of mass
consumerism, Japanese society is likely to face similar problems.
What about Europe?
JG: Western Europe falls
under the category of places where social glue and sustainable
lifestyles are almost passé. Unlike the U.S., Europe is not a
particularly promising contender in case of a military scramble for
resources. And unlike North Koreans, Europeans are not likely to accept a
totalitarian “solution” to the problem of how to slice up a shrinking
pie. After peak oil, probably the best hope for Europe is populist
regimes that might mobilize residual national solidarity to weather the
crisis. I’m not a fan of populist regimes, but they typically emerge
when democratic societies enter a deep crisis.
Reads a bit as if Michael Rennie as Klaatu from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" had come to earth and given us a withering but completely logical and objective analysis of our situation and potential futures.  Depressing but enlightening.

And the reference to "populist regimes" brings to mind not only such depressing memories as Jörg Haider in Austria (who fortunately didn't quite make it to the point of having a "regime") but also Sarah Palin.... (shudder).

I'm perplexed at the use of the initials "JG" for "Jörg Friedrichs," but that's just the residual editor in me....

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