For a long time I've had suspicions that something big was happening, that the global system as it has been for the past century is failing. There are glimmers of the giant crisis that shine through smaller problems. However when these smaller problems are viewed in concert there is reason for serious concern.
Oil, coal and Gas:
The problem with fossil fuels is two fold. The first major problem is that its use in its various capacities do tremendous damage to the environment. The second is that they are finite resources and being used at alarming rates. These two issues seem to be racing each other in a lose/lose competition as to which one ruins us. One the one hand we can make our world unlivable for humanity, and on the other we can have massive shortages of everything that sustains human life thus causing a massive death toll. Either way there is a serious problem concerning the use of these fossil fuels.
Saudi Arabia’s promise to increase production to meet US and world economic needs was the hot topic. Much discussion and hard data was devoted to the fact that Ghawar, the largest field in the world, along with all of Saudi Arabia’s other large fields, was old and tired. In recent years both water injection and so-called "bottle-brush" drilling have been employed to maintain production and both of these techniques tend to accelerate decline and damage the reservoirs. They are desperate measures.
With bottle brush drilling, a shaft is drilled horizontally over long distances with a number of brush-like openings. As water is forced under pressure into the reservoir, the oil is forced upwards toward the well heads and extraction is thereby increased. However, when the water table hits the horizontal shaft, often without warning, the whole field is virtually dead and production immediately drops off to almost nothing. This comes as surprise in most cases. As several at the conference noted, this is exactly what had already happened in Oman, Syria and Yemen.
As William Kennedy, a UK observer at the conference noted afterwards, "For the record, Ghawar’s ultimate recoverable reserves in 1975 were estimated at 60 billion barrels – by Exxon, Mobil, Texaco and Chevron. It had produced 55 billion barrels up to the end of 2003 and is still producing at 1.8 billion per annum. That shows you how close it might be to the end. When Ghawar dies, the world is officially in decline."
No one, not even from the major oil companies or the economic camp rose to defend Saudi Arabia’s claim that it could increase production rapidly. The BBC’s Adam Porter nailed the International Energy Agency’s chief economist Faith Birol over his confident assertion that there was still plenty of oil.
This quote highlights the fears surrounding the second problem, running out of oil. As the oil becomes harder to get out of the ground in Saudi Arabia they start using strategies to pull more out of the ground. But, it is important to note that this scrubbing and brushing is needed to maintain the oil production, meaning that the amounts of oil in those deposits has dropped significantly.
In regards to problem one, water supplies will shift and could become a major stresser. It may affect politics and other such areas. The ice caps are melting more and more, glaciers are disappearing, and rain patterns are shifting. These events and occurrences have an impact on where and when fresh water appears and collects around the world. Seeing as though fresh water is desperately important to human life, the changing climate is of great importance to our survival.
In this interview concerning climate change several issues concerning water distribution and its potential future impacts were discussed. I pulled two of the questions that ended up pertaining to water out. I am sorry but I can not link this interview due to finding it on my schools search data base. The title of the interview was "Climate Change a Creeping Catastrophe" The interviewee was Dr. Colin Summerhayes who is the president of the Society for Underwater Technology and an emeritus associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of
Q: What do you predict to be the main
effects of climate change around the world?
A: There will be winners and losers
from climate change. We project that
by 2100, eastern China, Colombia and
Ecuador will receive more rainfall, while
the Caribbean, Chile, western China,
the Mediterranean and Peru will become
drier. Africa has a mixed forecast, with
the north and south being dry, and places
such as Kenya, very wet. From these projections,
we can forecast where agriculture
and water supplies will be stressed. In the
moist tropics and high latitudes, there
will be increased water availability but,
in the mid-latitudes and semi-arid low
latitudes, water availability will decrease
and drought conditions will intensify,
exposing hundreds of millions of people
to increased water stress.
Q: How is climate change affecting water
A: Land glaciers in the Himalayas
lock up water and release it nicely for
countries such as India and Pakistan in
a regular manner throughout the year.
The same applies to the Andes and the
water supplied to countries such as Peru.
If the land glaciers retreat by a significant
amount, the whole release mechanism will
probably be compromised. Also, depending
on the extent to which sea levels rise,
global warming may also cause problems
to water supplies and sewage disposal in
The water concerns and sea level concerns that are brought about by climate change are also joined by fears of disease. The reach of tropical diseases may extend further into the sub tropics and diseases that normally only extend to the sub tropics may extend to the temperate zones. This coupled with those water concerns previously mentioned can lead to extremely hard times for humanity.
To end the fossil fuel section; I would like to say that it is telling that companies and countries are willing to risk so much for oil exploration. Oil has been the backbone of society for nearly 100 years and the prospect of it running out is extremely frightening. The demand for oil has grown and grown and now other countries previously outside of its grip feel the thirst. This has led to a demand for the increase of oil production when it seems we are past the peak in oil supply. This seems like it can only end in disaster.
Bad Loans, and Economic Crisis:
A combination of fluctuating oil prices, greed, dirty loan processes, a lack of oversight, slow political process, corporate owned legislatures, and several other related problems has led to the near total collapse of the world economy. Though it is said that the United States is recovering (and even that is extremely slow) much of the world is suffering and that could extend itself back here. Europe is in shambles, the violence in Greece which was spurred by economic hardship is an indicator of that. Eastern Europe is starving and also suffering the impacts of this global economic hardship. The world has not yet recovered.
Seeing as though our economic collapse directly affected the rest of the world, wouldn't it seem reasonable to assume that their continued economic troubles would be harmful to our economy? Spain is in trouble, Greece is in trouble, Great Britain is in trouble, I'm not sure who else is in trouble but it seems like nearly everyone.
When looked at in a vacuum one can say ok we just need to help all these economies recover and things will be fine. However, as we discussed earlier the primary fuel of these economies (oil) is running out. The primary fuel of industrialization, transportation, plastic, seemingly everything important is diminishing. The climate is changing and that must be addressed and adapted to which takes resources. In fact that task would be hard in good economic times let alone bad. And while on the topic of violence and economics the primary producer of goods in the world (China) is also experiencing serious unrest.
Chinese police have arrested 1,434 people over rioting in Xinjiang province, official state media say.
Rioting broke out on Sunday in Urumqi - the capital of Xinjiang - leaving 156 people dead and more than 800 injured.
Unrest has continued, with hundreds of Uighurs facing off against police in Urumqi on Tuesday, and protests around a mosque in Kashgar on Monday.
Beijing blames ethnic Muslim Uighurs for the violence, but exiled Uighurs say police fired on students
Uighur activists say thousands of people remain unaccounted for after mass raids by Chinese authorities following the violence.
"Instead of stifling inquiry, blaming outside agitators and generating fear, the Chinese government should use the anniversary to launch a proper investigation, including into the Uighur community's long-simmering grievances that contributed to the unrest"
Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific deputy director, Amnesty International
Amnesty urged Beijing on Friday to launch an independent inquiry into the violence.
"The official account leaves too many questions unanswered. How many people really died, who killed them, how did it happen, and why?" Catherine Baber, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific deputy director, said.
Amnesty said it had new testimonies from Uighur witnesses detailing how a peaceful protest against government inaction in the face of killings of Uighur factory workers in southern China was met with violence by security forces
There also has been an increase in gun violence in China.
Since 1966, the country's gun laws have remained some of the strictest in the world: the ban prohibiting gun ownership includes everything from the private manufacture and sale of bullets and guns, to their transport, possession and import or export. And even though possessing a single gun can get you a three-year prison sentence and perpetrators of gun crimes often face execution, that hasn't stopped guns from hitting the black market, or people from going the homemade route.
Last month, upset at his divorce settlement, a security guard in Hunan province shot six people, killing three judges and wounding three others before shooting himself. He had confiscated a submachine gun and two pistols from a subordinate, claiming that they needed to be inspected, before heading to the courthouse and shooting the judges that hadn't even ruled on his case.
Other notable instances of guns: Another man on a rampage killed five family members and neighbors with a homemade pistol in 2007; a man thought to have been killed by an exploding cell phone battery actually died when a makeshift firearm malfunctioned. Last year, we reported on a gang-related shooting in Putuo District where four homemade guns were confiscated.
The increase in gun violence, says Ding Xinzhen of Chongqing Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Law, "can be attributed to the rich-poor gap and unfair distribution of social benefits, together with inefficient government management [of gun laws]." The Municipal Public Security Bureau in Chongqing reported 339 cases involving illegal guns in 2008. Last year's Chongqing gang crackdown, where 48 guns were seized, found gang members to have connections with government officials.
So the main producer of like everything is having unrest too. They are also doing strange things manipulating currency which I'm not going to take the time to understand right now, but should be mentioned in an economic section. But back to unrest, given how tight China is with news stories etc I feel as though the unrest in China may be more severe than we currently think. This would be quite threatening as well.
American Populace Stressed beyond belief:
The amount of homelessness in the US is scary these days. So many people have lost their homes and or jobs recently as evidenced by the unemployment rates and tent cities. This is happening while the richest members of the country continue to maintain their life style which has led to some serious mental unrest here. While there has not been any serious economically inspired violence in the US thus far (that I know of) its a concern. When the people have been battered and bruised and they are constantly bombarded with instances of extravagance on TV that has to take a toll. The American population has been surprisingly quiet during this economic down turn and I believe much of that has to do with faith in Obama.
This faith in Obama is somewhat warranted as he has fought for the people on many occasions. However the congress has been extremely stubborn, especially the senate, in doing anything to help Obama help us. And seeing as though these people are elected officials this can lead to serious anger if it continues and the population pays attention. In the coming days the extension of unemployment benefits becomes an important issue to watch. This is because if it is discontinued thousands of people who are unemployed will have no incomes and will join the masses of newly homeless increasing the size of the angry population. This is dangerous to stability here. Its not simply a matter of heartlessness on the part of the Republicans its a matter of Recklessness in regards to the stability of our country.
I think the combination of climate change, oil running low, global economic woes, domestic economic woes, global unrest, and potential domestic unrest can boil over in horrible ways. I also think that Global political stubbornness and an unwillingness to do what is necessary (what ever that may be) is adding to the anger and exacerbating the situation. If the old way of create a problem and ignore it till it breaks something is continued we can kiss the global economy and nation states good by. There is a huge powder keg that seems to be waiting to blow, and the only way to alleviate the problem is to put out the flame. But it seems instead of finding ways of doing that, our politicians are running further ahead with a lighter going hmmm maybe I should light it here too. Honestly I hope this all gets fixed by those politicians survival instincts kicking in, or by the American people making the right choices in the up coming elections, but as of right now I see a rather desperate situation.
To Close with a Poem as is my usual way:
Looking to the sky I search and search for the true expression
The expression of facts or realities or beliefs that could inspire
Looking up I dig through myself for the strength I need to lead
Looking down at the ground I see the multicolored puddle
The gas mixed with water that makes the leadership so necessary
I now know that's whats at stake, life, freedom and passion
If the water is gone we might as well light our funeral pyre
As long as we continue to drill our mother continues to bleed
In the end she dies and we die and its an end to the riddle
That was life, it'll be solved only to find we were our greatest adversary
Its so sad that we continue to walk as if nothing is scary
False bravado in a culture of fear
Perhaps if we allowed ourselves to experience emotion we could move
Maybe if we could move we'd look around our path to understand
If we all understood perhaps we might experience anger
We need to feel to change to see
the devastation isn't out there its right here
There is no time left to gather evidence and prove
The fact that it is time to make our stand
If we don't I do fear we've missed the chance to move past the danger
So its past that time, the time to look inward and outward
See the self in the context of this society
Who are we as individuals, who are we as a culture
The search for a soul must happen right now
In knowing our hearts we may find a solution
Our great power has made the whole world our ward
To care for it should be a matter of worship and piety
Right now we act much like a demonic vulture
Feasting upon Earth as if she were a dead cow
If we seek our own salvation, we must change our relation
Ok so I thought I was going to be done here but I'm not:
I like to keep the integrity and order of my thought in tact so that everyone who reads what I write can follow my thought process. So here I go again.
I was thinking this, Obama and this congress have passed progressive legislation at a record rate. They have been quite accomplished when compared to the past and continue to push forward, but that's not good enough. The size of the problem is larger than the pace at which they are fixing it. I think comparison to the past is actually hampering progress. To look back and be like wow we are moving fast is extremely deceptive. That's like a pro runner thinking to him or herself wow I beat my high school times I'm really doing something. Well of course the scale of competition has changed, and in our world the scale of the situation has changed. Swift wide, sweeping, continuously adapting action needs to take place. I should have put emphasis on adapting, because as the situation changes we need to as well. We may need to change our life styles, work with the government in looking for solutions, do what ever is necessary to make the world better for the children of the future. Honestly our pace is like a turtle that stops for naps like a hare, this is simply inadequate. I am not saying this to place blame, I think the job they've done is great, I am just asking for more and a lot more effort. And I'm asking those who don't want to put in that effort to get out of the way.
Good night thanks