First. Some basics.
Everything is dependent on oil. Crude oil. The United States and China use the most oil. The United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia with its neighbors produce the most oil. This will not change much in the coming decades.
The United States is more an empire than a nation. It is hegemon over most of the globe outside Russia’s sphere, China, North Korea, and Iran.
The President of the United States is not really a leader, at least they haven’t been leaders for some time. They are more a scapegoat.
Everything revolves around the oil under Saudi Arabia. Mother Earth is continually producing crude oil, but she takes millions of years to do it. Quick in deep time. Slow in human terms. So far, two trillion barrels of crude oil have been produced and sit in reservoirs – 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 feet underground.
“Created” may be a better word. From here on out “produce” will refer to human extraction of oil from the ground.
Edwin Drake discovered oil in 1859 near Titusville, Pennsylvania. In the century-and-a-half since this discovery humans have consumed roughly half of those two trillion barrels.
Currently we produce and consume 95 million barrels of oil per day. Or about 80 million barrels of actual crude oil per day and another 15 million barrels of various by products and oil liquids per day that contain roughly half the energy content but are still fully part of the overall process to produce petroleum products necessary to maintain modern human existence.
Using the lower figure of 80 mbpd (what is called “crude oil including lease condensate” in the industry), we are using 29 billion barrels per year.
Simple math, assuming one trillion or 1,000 billion barrels of oil left in the ground, gives us, that is to say the human race – all seven plus billion of us – 35 years left at this level of oil consumption. And then it is lights out.
Yeah. I know what you are thinking.
But no surprises here. Some of us have been aware of these uncomfortable numbers for a couple decades now. The numbers don’t change. They come back the same every year.
The reaction of almost everybody presented with this information is to argue points they have gotten from CNN or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and then change the subject to something inane, like themselves. The cognitive dissonance is too great. People see what they believe. And they believe in progress. The end of the world as they know it and the end of growth is too much for Americans to handle. Easier to use Donald Trump as a scapegoat for everything that is “wrong” in the world.
But, again, the numbers don’t change. They come back the same every year. Whether you get them from BP or from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA) or from the International Energy Association (IEA), they all tell the same story. We are running out of oil, what is left is mostly under the Middle East, as we run out the human population will be forced to downsize, it probably will not be pretty, and we are not really planning for any of this.
What we do is tell ourselves nice things about “progress” and scientific breakthroughs that haven’t happened but are surely just around the corner and blame those who “don’t believe in climate change.”
If you can’t deal with reality, reality will deal with you.
There is no substitute for oil.
While there is a high degree of hype and willful-delusion about the ability of human ingenuity and “scientific progress” to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by substituting “renewable energy,” the simple fact is that there is no substitute for oil.
The aircraft industry, based around large Boeing and Airbus jetliners, cannot fly economically on anything but crude-oil-based aviation fuel, otherwise known as diesel or kerosene, which are in turn basically only slightly different oil-distillations from gasoline.
[more on vehicles and equipment necessary…]
At the height of the Roman Empire the estimated human population of the globe was…
In 1750, before the Industrial Revolution the population of the globe is estimated to have been 800 million.
In 1900, after the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania and before the rise of the petroleum-powered internal combustion engine, the population had doubled to 1.6 billion. Doubled during 150 years worth of Industrial Revolution advances.
Today it stands at 7.5 billion. Increased five-fold in 120 years.
It is petroleum products that have made this population of 7.5 billion, rapidly approaching 8 billion, humans possible. Industrialized agriculture and moving the food from the farms to the slaughterhouses and processing plants and then on to the local grocery stores is not possible without oil. Nobody produces their own food. And if they do they won’t be able to defend it against the hungry mobs. Without oil, everybody starves to death. Period.
More on the other ways petroleum is crucial and necessary to make modern life possible later.
Of the remaining one trillion barrels of oil in the ground, 260 billion of them are under Saudi Arabia.
The United States consumes roughly 20 million barrels of petroleum products per day (20 mbpd) give or take a million barrels. It reached this level 20 years ago around 1997. A decrease in the long-term overall rate of growth in the American economy, demand destruction, and increased efficiency and “conservation” have all contributed to this relatively stable level of oil use. It should stay around this level of 20 mbpd for the foresee-able future.
The United States only produces about 12 mbpd but the remaining 8 mbpd are mostly and easily acquired from its North American friends and neighbors, Canada and Mexico, together with half a million barrels here-and-there for stable suppliers in the Middle East or North or West Africa.
For all intents-and-purposes and contrary to popular sentiment the United States is energy independent. More on this later.
China, The United States’ main and only economic rival, consumes 12 mbpd of petroleum products, of which it needs to import 8 mbpd. Chinese economic and consequently oil usage has grown phenomenally in the last 20 years. A decade ago, China was only using 8 mbpd of oil. In 2016 Chinese economic growth and energy usage slowed, or rather, the rate of increase slowed. Whether this is the beginning of a trend or simply the Chinese economy taking a breath is impossible to tell.
The Chinese are dependent on oil from the Middle East, the flow of which the United States controls. This is strategic. This is by design. All American military power and effort in the world is focused on playing the role of guard-dog to Middle Eastern and specifically Saudi oil.
All of this explains why Saudi Arabia – what can only be described as the real-life Republic of Gilead from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – is one of America’s two most cherished and pampered allies. The other being Israel – a truly racist, theocratic police state that views Palestinians as subhumans and keeps half of them on the brink of starvation in an open-air concentration camp called The Gaza Strip. Israel is a democracy only in the sense that Ancient Greece was a democracy when 70% of the population were slaves. It’s all relative…but it guts the argument that Putin’s Russia is some kind of monster and not a viable democracy. Or even that China should be targeted as “authoritarian.”
And the United States basically pays for Israel’s existence to the tune of $6 Billion a year. Absurd and bizarre. Hard to believe…unless explained in terms of the importance of oil to American empire and control. For Israel and Saudi Arabia are actually de facto allies, both working under the protection of the American Deep State and constantly and continually conspiring to undermine stability in the rest of the region and tag Shiite Iran as the origin of all the world’s troubles. Iran – ironically, the closest to an actually stable democracy in the region that concerns itself with the welfare of Muslims.
China Tech: Interesting Bits and Pieces
FRED REED • JUNE 29, 2017 • 1,100 words
As I have mentioned before, China came out of nowhere to become the world leader in supercomputers. Also in high-speed rail, of strategic importance in its plan to united Europe and Asia economically. Heavy investment in solar power offers to ameliorate its dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf, vulnerable to blockage by the US Navy. Then there is DF21D terminally guided ballistic missile, specifically intended as a carrier-killer in what China regards as its home waters. The list could go on at length.
In much of America, the Chinese are dismissed as being “unable to innovate,” inventiveness being thought of as unique to white men. Thinner ice has perhaps never been trod.
The Chinese are smart. They are certainly capable of high-grade engineering and scientific research. (Eg., Beijing Genomics Institute) The line between imaginative engineering and invention is blurry. Note that on the numbers China can potentially bring to bear five times as many engineers as America can and, while they are well short of this, twice as many would be–is?–the beginning of a new world.