Monday, February 26, 2007

Interesting oil article

I found this on Thomas Barnett's blog, which I have linked to on the side over there. Energy independence (which is a fine feel-good phrase, but I wish it was just called "clean energy") is all well and good, right? I mean, who can possibly be against reducing global warming? You'd make poor Al Gore cry!

Well, an oft-overlooked consequence of our pending independence from foreign oil (ha!) is the impact this will have on oil-producing countries:
Thus, Western posturing over reducing the demand for oil could cause major oil exporters to react in a variety of ways, most of which would exacerbate rather than help the global energy situation. Even in a scenario where Western countries successfully replaced their demand for oil from alternative indigenous energy sources, they would still have to live on the same planet as former major oil-exporting countries whose fragile societies would then be faced with the additional economic strain of the loss of their main current source of revenue. Energy independence for current oil-importers may carry a high moral price. If a sharp decline in oil revenues leads to instability in the oil producing areas, the West will not be able to turn a blind eye to such conflicts. In the age of globalization, these countries are economic and political partners of the West. Political instability that results from declining oil revenues must be added as a potential cost of oil independence. In addition, it is unclear what will happen to the world monetary system without the trade in oil and the associated recycling of petrodollars. A change to a world where most industrial countries depend on their own domestic energy resources would require a major change in the world’s financial and monetary system. Such a change will bring its own challenges and difficulties to all, including the industrial countries.

For me, it's one of those "let's cross that bridge when we get to it" sort of issues, but I think that bridge can come sooner rather than later, especially if EU countries can follow through on their environmental promises. Anyway, you should read the whole article - you might not like all of it, but it'll make you think about some future possibilities.

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