Not much organized thought going on here at C2 over the past week, but I do think you ought to read and consider a couple of things.
Peak Oil, the Economy and the Potential for Civil Unrest
From the End is Near Department, Tom Whipple of the Falls Church News-Press is ending the year with a column on the potential for civil unrest here in the U.S. Check it out. Whipple has been studying and writing on Peak Oil for years. There is a growing number of folks out there who believe that the U.S. is ill-equipped and has waited too long to develop and implement an energy policy which takes us from the Oil Age to whatever will be the next energy economy. From farmers’ fields to the long commutes many of us make to get to suburbia to work every day, so much is dependent on oil. So much of that oil is now supplied from sketchy parts of the world. The theory goes that as the world’s supply of oil peaks – and it will (or has) – the society’s ride on the downside slope will be difficult and long; again, because we’re not prepared with an alternative(s).
Writers like Whipple, James Howard Kunstler and Matt Savinar to name a few believe that this post-peak period will be a test for America that could include civil unrest. You can read about these issues in many places and make up your own mind. I tend to think that rather than years or decades of unrest and awful economic pain, we may be looking at years of discomfort. I accept Whipple’s final paragraph:
America has not faced a serious domestic crisis for 150 years. We have never faced a situation where 300 million of us bound up in a complex and interdependent society has had to make major involuntary changes in our lifestyles.
I’m Beginning to Think the Russians are Bigger Blockheads Than I Once Believed
A recent poll by a popular Russian TV station found that Josef Stalin was the third favorite Russian (he was actually Georgian) of all time. He was beaten by a medieval prince and an early 20th century prime minister.
Among the greatest butchers of history, Stalin ranks right up there with China’s Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and Germany’s Adolf Hitler. What’s the problem with the Russian people? Fifty million votes were cast in the poll – I have no idea as to the control over how those votes were cast. You can read about it here and here.
Russia today announced they are preparing to halt natural gas supplies to the Ukraine. From the New York Times:
The transit of Russian natural gas across former Soviet states to Western Europe is a pivotal economic and security interest of the Russian government as taxes on exports of oil and natural gas account for about 60 percent of the budget.
About 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe, meanwhile, cross Ukrainian territory.
Customers include major European utilities like Germany’s E.On and the Italy’s Eni.
This is a rather aggressive move, especially in the wake of the conflict Georgia earlier this year. It would be one thing for Russia to make a move like this and affect only one of its former Soviet republics. It’s an entirely different matter if Western Europe pays an economic price.
With everything President Obama will be dealing with after January 20, I hope he’s saved some of his and others’ brainpower for Putin and Medvedev. These guys are half-cocked and dangerous.