Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy
Political historians, I am convinced, will look back at the 2008 elections with an overwhelming sense of awe. Their incredulity will not be based on the changing face of the presidential ticket, rather they'll be baffled that no single campaign centered on America's (and the world's) most vital problem: Energy (or, put another way, Resource Scarcity).
In short, the 150 year holiday of cheap energy is over, and we must now invest in Energy Technology (ET) with the same collective gusto that animated the programs and projects of the New Deal, World War Two industrial production, and the Information Revolution of the 1990s. We must free ourselves from fossil fuels not only to keep our planet from baking itself into oblivion, but also for national security (buzz word, I know) aims that will be obvious to anyone who has either a subscription to The Economist, access to NPR, or an average-sized human brain.
In short, more people are scrambling for rapidly diminishing pools of energy. The cruel joke: he who wins, loses. Get it? The only viable choice lies in ET. How humans respond to Resource Scarcity will be the meta-narrative of history from here on out.
Michael Klare's new book (listen to his speech, too) makes the point better and with more elegance and nuance than I could ever hope.
Last note: I have no idea how we get the candidates discussing these issues in any substantive manner. Regarding Resource Scarcity, McCain and Obama continue to feed the public outlandishly generic platitudes. Far from making it the focal point of their campaigns, both seem to treating the issue as a box to be checked. Could anything be more foolhardy or myopic?