One oag the most refreshing things about the Pentagon is that it is one of the few government institutions that still engages in relatively frank and honest discussion. Anyone who thinks that the government isn’t clued in to the possibilities of peak oil needs to do some light reading on a selection of unclassified documents that the DOD has released in the last few years.
Energy Bulletin has a nice overview of recent DOD papers discussing energy security, energy scarcity and how both relate to military operations and geopolitics. Of particular note is the paper “preemptive Energy Security: An Aggressive Approach to Meeting America’s Requirements.” Identifying the lack of a true energy policy as a critical gap in overall US policy, this paper has this interesting quote:
“The foregoing analysis demonstrates that our national strategy must identify the nation’s access to adequate supplies of oil as a vital national interest. The dire economic, social, and political consequences associated with a severe reduction in imported oil justifies the use of military action, regardless of world opinion. We must act unilaterally if the circumstances warrant such action. A precipitive use of the military could easily trigger an escalation in hostilities, generate a tremendous amount of anti-American sentiment, lead to United Nations’ sanctions, and fracture friendships and alliances. But compared to the economic effects of an oil shortage, such risks are acceptable (emphasis mine). President Carter summed up the dark reality of the loss of oil: We live in fear of embargos, our factories will not be able to keep our people on the job with reduced supplies of fuel. Inflation will soar, production will go down, people will lose their jobs. If we fail to act soon, we will face economic, social, and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions.”
This is one of the most honest assessments I’ve seen come out ogovernmentalmental institution. Basically, we need the oil, and any price we pay to get it is worth it. This is more or less the policy being taken today, and it dovetails nicely with the “Last Man Standing” scenario from Richard Heinberg’s “Powerdown” book. This is the reason we’re building those permanent bases in Iraq, since we have no plans to really leave the area until we’ve sucked as much black gold out of the place as possible.
Another recent paper is “The Strategic Competition for the Continent of Africa,” which identifies the lost continent as one of the few relatively unexploited markets and sources of natural resources left on the planet. The paper more or less states that we are in a race with China to see who will dominate both. Refreshingly, the conclusion is that we need to pursue a less confrontational approach with Beijing, and that trying to work with common interests is in the best interests of both parties, and of Africa itself. It’s a remarkable contrast to the previously-mentioned paper, which hopefully signals some differing of opinion within military circles as regards to the way forward with our foreign policy.
Finally, there’s a paper some may remember from a few years back talking about Abrupt Climate Change (aka “The Day After Tomorrow”. This sounds far-fetched to a number of people, but since I haven’t seen any Pentagon papers dealing with defending against space aliens or transdimensional entities, I can only assume that this is something they are truly worried about. The paper opens thusly:
“There is substantial evidence to indicate that significant global warming will occur during the 21st century. Because changes have been gradual so far, and are projected to be similarly gradual in the future, the effects of global warming have the potential to be manageable for most nations. Recent research, however, suggests that there is a possibility that this gradual global warming could lead to a relatively abrupt slowing of the ocean’s thermohaline conveyor, which could lead to harsher winter weather conditions, sharply reduced soil moisture, and more intense winds in certain regions that currently provide a significant fraction of the world’s food production. With inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth’s environment. “
If you bother to read the entire document, it’s quite pessimistic about how the world would react to the possibility of the Atlantic Conveyor shutting down. Not quite Mad Max, perhaps, but massive violence, death and migrations are identified as major issues. actually acutally is listed as one of the better places to be, but we would be delurefugees refugess from Central America, Europe and elsewhere, and we would more or less turn into Fortress America, trying to keep others out and take care of our own while the world freezes.
This is all hypothetical, of course, but the fact that the Military is even thinking about things like this should be taken by all of us as an indication of where we’re heading. I’ve read that one of our primary problems is that humans are programmed to not even voluntarilyunatarily living with less resources, so the only way it will happen is when we have no choice. The high-energy, consumptive “American Dream” is killing the planet, and the powers that be here sure seem to be trying to keep the game going as long as possible, future generations be damned. The question is, will the planet kill us before we kill it?