Monday, June 25, 2007

It's the secondary effects, stupid

OK, let's run with this idea: we're at the peak of oil production now; and some societies have been priced out of the market for oil - for them the oil age has now passed (eg Guinea, Senegal, Central America). The West, being rich, will be able to outcompete other nations and peoples for tradeable oil. This gives the West a little longer to adjust, and those who have hardly adjusted to the age of oil will go back to previous customary practice.

Those whose cultural memories of traditional practice have vanished - ie they are two or three generations into dependency on fossil fuels - won't be able to transition back easily. They will also not be able to compete with the West on the open market - they're stuck in the middle, being too rich to do without oil, and too poor to pay for it directly. This is basically South and East Asia I'm thinking of. So what are they going to do? They're either going to react passively - in which case we are looking at vast waves of human migration as they seek food to eat - or they will react aggressively, in which case the parallels between Europe 1914 and South East Asia 2014 will loom large.

Either way, it's the secondary effects that will have most immediate impact on the West, not the initial price rise of oil.

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