Deep Metaphoric Opacity Necessitates Deep Thought

“Nobody has ever solved a drinking problem by attributing the hangovers to a shortage of liquor.”

The above is a quote from this article by Charles C. Mann, Peak Oil Fantasy, published in Orion Magazine and which is the inspiration for this post.

This article is a masterpiece of writing on the history of humanity’s discovery and addiction to the use and abuse of fossil fuels.  If you feel that you don’t understand any of that, or even if you do think that you understand everything about oil, peak oil, and oil scarcity, then you will profit greatly from taking the time to read this article thoughtfully.  Heck, it is interesting and engaging enough for its intrinsic self to make such an undertaking worthwhile, but its underlying message, which I have no doubt many people will incorrectly misinterpret and take offense to for a variety of reasons, requires an unbiased, free-thinking, clear-headed appraisal to be able to extract the true meaning from it.

Illustration by Nicolas Lampert

Here, briefly, for what it is worth, is my take on it.

The author uses the statement, quoted at the beginning of this post (read it again), as a metaphoric summary of the generally perceived problems surrounding fossil fuel use by our civilisation.  He preceded that statement with this description:
“Like giddy drunks locked in a warehouse full of booze, humanity takes advantage of ease and profusion to throw a party.  The next day is the hangover, with the floor covered in spilled booze and shattered glass.”

Let’s examine the various parts of this metaphor:
The Drunken party – what we have been doing since we discovered coal, oil & gas.
The Hangover – the results of partying too hard.
The Problem – now, that’s the hard part. Is it the booze or a shortage of booze? Is it the partying itself? Is it the resulting mayhem of ‘spilled booze and shattered glass’ or worse? Or is it the excessive, addicted behaviour of the partyers, incapable of knowing when enough is enough?

The author takes the position that it is a drinking problem, and I agree.  But that is not primarily anything to do with the booze.  Nor the supply of booze.  Nor even the possible shortage of booze, other than that the partyers will, by consuming all nearby supplies of booze, need to go further and further away to obtain sufficient supplies to keep the party going.  That makes supply or shortage of booze a secondary problem, at least for a while until the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in.

No, the primary problem, and I think the author of this piece is being quite astute to have recognised this, is the behavioural attitude of the partyers in being unable to modulate their use of booze (dare I say it) sustainably.

Translating this to reality then, it is not that coal, oil and gas will eventually run out that is humanity’s problem (it never will run out, only get more and more difficult to obtain in sufficient amounts or quantities to keep our societal party going), but in fact our real problem is our inability, incapability even, or downright stupidity to recognise that we are a) giving ourselves an enormous future headache, b) causing mayhem and destruction to our one and only ‘party room’, and c) that there is an urgent need to call a halt to, or a dramatic toning down of, the partying.

So, this article is awarded my Solid Gold Seal of Approval.  And if by some mistaken belief I have not interpreted the author’s intention correctly, then my view, in my world at least, prevails.

“American Feelgood Is More Important Than Syrian Lives.” – Obama

Let’s be clear, President Obama didn’t actually say that to the UN General Assembly, but that is his underlying message.

Russian President Putin, on the other hand, to quote this article:

“Putin is right. Everyone knows Putin is right, that the only way forward in Syria, if not to eternal slaughter, is via the established government of Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese and Iranian allies.”

Who is the greater man? Who is the more worthy leader (in spite of the veiled digs of Henry Kissinger)?  Again, quoting this article:

“The result of American and British grandstanding at the UN this week – seeing who can be ruder about Assad – is that Vladimir Putin has gathered ever more cards to his pack. Putin has already performed the two primary duties of a Russian leader, bringing stability and pride. He now faces turbulent Russian minorities across his European frontier and a serious menace from Muslim states to his south. He is perforce becoming a player on a wider stage. He has read Iran, India and Syria correctly. He is no fool.”

One final quote:

“…western policy in the region …has been a disaster. If we have nothing more intelligent to say on Syria, we should listen to Putin. He has.”

This post inspired by:  Why the west should listen to Putin on Syria

Tick Tick Tick (per Jim Kunstler)

I often share posts by Jim Kunstler from his Clusterfuck Nation blog, but hey guys, this is a masterpiece of interesting writing, reflecting the typical dumb, canned attitude of US media towards Russia, and the brilliant take-down, but always polite, responses from President Putin.  Along, of course, with some biting Kunstler wit.

To be enjoyed by all: Tick Tick Tick

‘A Potted History Of The United Nations’ or ‘America’s Failed Attempts To Rule The World’

This post inspired by: Obama Deifies American Hegemony

An exposé, almost a diary, of the machinations and manipulations of the US, also fortunately for the world at large a litany of failures (fortunate because it prevented a prison nation from developing into a prison planet).  Those actions being ostensibly aimed towards claiming their divinely ordained position as the World Leader.  

An exposé, written about US President Obama’s speech today at the UN General Assembly, by Paul Craig Roberts in an article that needs no comment from me to add to what it already brilliantly portrays.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments and is the author of several books.

A Little Q & A

Which country is the world’s largest oil producer?  Saudi Arabia.

Which country does every other country, including the US, rely on for the oil to keep the engine of economic growth chugging along Saudi Arabia.

Which country is responsible for keeping the price of oil down at or below the cost of production for the last few years?  Saudi Arabia.

Which country’s oil exports have been declining by 1.4% every year for the last decade because it needs constantly more oil for its own domestic consumption?  Saudi Arabia.

Which country’s cash reserves have been falling by $12 billion a month in the past year which means they will soon have reserves too low to any longer be an attractive investment?  Saudi Arabia.

Which country will be unable to export any oil sometime in the next 15 years?  Saudi Arabia

Which country will soon be in the grip of its very own civil uprising?  Saudi Arabia.

Which country(s) will also very soon experience their very own rapid economic decline because of all of the above?  Every country.

Is that clear?  Seems clear to me.

Are you ready?  That one is not for me to answer.

This post inspired by: The collapse of Saudi Arabia is inevitable

See also: Saudi Arabia has withdrawn as much as $70 billion from global markets to plug its budget deficit

Arctic Drilling Not Worthwhile – Well, Whadda You Know?

Well, that’s something of a relief.  Royal Dutch Shell, obviously disappointed, having made huge investments in exploration costs, announces today it is giving up looking for oil in the Arctic for the foreseeable future due to not finding sufficient amounts to make drilling and extraction worthwhile.

Well, whadda you know? Here beginneth the beginning of the end for the oil based society we live in.

This post inspired, straight from the horses mouth, by: Shell updates on Alaska exploration

With the US shale industry already in rout mode, leading to a rapid collapse in production and widespread financial haemorrhage, global oil production, having no new extraction sources to fall back on, will resort to the level of decline that began back in 2005 as the wise commentators of our community always said it would.

What does that mean?  Well, it signals pretty much the end of the road for globalization, technological development, international travel, motorised transport in general, industrial farming, the pharmaceutical prolongation of human life, and it provides all of the right triggers (as if any more were needed) for a general collapse of finance, commerce, government and military business as usual.

Is that enough?  Should we all be doing something, not to prevent or avert it, but to make ready for it?  Hmm… that’s for you to decide.

Still Riding The Wrong Horse

I am sharing this Guardian article, Vladimir Putin bids for major world role as his forces move into Syria , not because I agree with all that it says but to point out that this news source is still riding the wrong horse in the Ukraine stakes.

Photograph: ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis/Alexei Nikolsky

What the article does say correctly, in not so many words, is that Vladimir Putin is a very clever, astute and outstanding world leader.  He is head and shoulders above, in political ‘nous’ if not in stature, anyone else on the current scene.

Despite that, many in the West including, it seems, The Guardian, still espouse the lie about Russian aggression in Ukraine when it is perfectly obvious that just the opposite is true.  Russia has no interest in Ukraine other than in protecting its own nationals and ethnic groups living within the borders of that country.

The US, the EU and NATO, on the other hand, are quite a different story, which I have gone to great lengths to explain in times and posts past.  I should have no need to go over all of the subterfuge, skulduggery and mayhem that those groups have woven into and around the Ukraine situation again and again.

At every turn of this saga, Putin has made the leaders of these groups look very silly.  I suggest that is why the West is now most recently changing the tune they have jointly been playing around the Syrian situation, molding their new stance to something along the lines set out by Russia and her colleagues, including China.

I look forward to the time when they treat the Ukraine problem in the same way.

What’s Good For The Goose…

“In my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter,” said Vladimir Putin recently on CBS ’60 Minutes’.

I agree.  He was speaking of those ‘illegal structures’ that the US is training and arming in Syria to fight the legitimate government of that country, oh, and ISIS as well of course, secondarily.  Those same US trained and armed illegal structures that recently had their first fight and apparently got themselves butchered by Al Nusra fighters (an Al Qaeda affiliate), and in their second ‘battle’ defected to Al Nusra complete with their US weapons. Excuse me while I just suppress a little guffaw and titter.  Yet another typical US military success.  See: US-trained Syria rebels gave ammo, equipment to Al Qaeda group, Pentagon confirms

Now we hear that as well as the assistance that Russia and Iran is giving to Syria, China has also sent ‘military advisers’.  Fair enough.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander (I’m not sure of the appropriateness of that old saying in this instance but I think you get my meaning).  The US has ‘military advisers’ in about two thirds of all countries, so for China to send some to Syria, followed up by further troops (just like the US does), is OK by me.

This post inspired by the RT article: China’s military advisers ‘heading to Syria to help fight ISIS’

Photo:  Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning. © Wikipedia

Here is a thought:  Wouldn’t it be very embarrassing if the Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Syria coalition were to defeat ISIS and all of the other terrorist groups afflicting Syria & Iraq, independently and without assistance from the West?

I just wonder if that isn’t maybe why there is a very recent softening of rhetoric and positioning from the Western nations (including obedient US lapdog, Australia) towards the Assad regime in Syria.  After all, it doesn’t hurt to hedge your bets for being on the winning side.  See also:

Cats In A Sack. Ready?

Quote: “Our technological advances haven’t come with moral advances, quite the contrary, our morals turn out to be a thin layer of mere cheap veneer. What advances we’re making are the last death rattle of a society in decline, and a dying civilization. All we have left to look forward to from here on in is cats in a sack. And we owe that to ourselves.”

Moral: Happy is the cat who watches cats in a sack, from the outside.

This post inspired by The Automatic Earth article: Greater Fools and Bigger Liars

Worthy of mention, and quoted in the article: “Societies in decline have no use for visionaries” – Anaïs Nin