Friday, November 05, 2010

The dirty little secret

So, why did the United States go into Iraq and Afghanistan with such inadequate forces? Why was there no mass mobilization of the American people, no mass production of enormous quantities of war materials, no vast expansion of the U.S. military that could have employed some of the millions of unemployed Americans who otherwise have nothing to do with their lives right now?

People blame the Busheviks for being incompetent. And in a way they were -- they got us into situations where the available resources simply weren't adequate to the task at hand. But why were the resources inadequate? The answer is simple, the answer is so simple that it isn't going to be a surprise once you see it. The answer is also the answer to why Great Depression II that we're sliding into thanks to the victory of the Austerians world wide is not going to be ended by a World War like the original Great Depression. And that answer is... OIL.

Yes. Oil. The deal is that it takes vast amounts of oil to move large armies across vast oceans and manufacture war materials to equip them, and the world no longer has sufficient oil for that purpose. The United States had to basically cut off civilian travel during WW2 in order to have enough oil to do this, but that was when the United States had its own domestic oil. But all that domestic oil has been pumped out of the ground and burned off via tailpipes. There is only 5% or so of the original oil reserves of the United States left untapped, and if we tapped every single bit of it, we would have enough oil for maybe 5 years total at current consumption levels -- consumption levels that a war would require doubling in order to produce sufficient war materials and move them to where the armies were fighting.

The reality is that the world no longer has enough war to wage world wars. There isn't enough oil left in the world to do the doubling of oil consumption that would be required to train, equip, and transport vast numbers of soldiers and expend vast tonnages of munitions upon targets. The only world war that makes any sense in the modern era is nuclear war... and that is the kind of war that ends unemployment problems, certainly, but only because dead people don't care that they're unemployed.

So it goes, in the endtimes, as we penguins sit on the sideline munching our popcorn watching the monkeys squabble over the last remaining dribbles of black gold from the ground... well, those of us not already killed by global warming, of course, but that's a different issue.

-- Badtux the Oily Penguin

5 comments:

  1. Ah Badtux. Would it be that you could make the M-I-C see that pertinent fact.

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  2. Coal-burning battle tanks!

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  3. Solar power, Bukko. Michigan would be safe.

    There are a couple problems with this analysis, Tux.

    First is that every year since records have been kept, the amount of known oil reserves has increased.

    1,028.132 billion barrels in 2001.

    1,342.207 billion barrels in 2009.

    Clearly, oil is not infinite. But we won't be running out soon enough to stop wars in your lifetime.

    Second is that if we have to fight wars on foot with stones and pitchforks, then that is what we will do. The world has never been free of war.

    The only way to accomplish that would be to get rid of all the people.

    Lo siento,
    JzB

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  4. Jazz, wars fought with stones and clubs are not fought by deploying vast mechanized armies across vast oceans. You'll note that I point out that resource wars will continue, but they will be limited wars, limited by the fact that there's not enough oil for the sort of total war that characterized WW2.

    Regarding the analysis of known oil reserves, are you including the clearly falsified Saudi numbers? The Saudi oil reservoirs are clearly on their last legs -- as in, satellite photos now show that their reservoirs are actually *physically collapsing* because there is no longer sufficient pressure inside them to keep the land above them from crushing them -- but the Saudis keep touting bigger and bigger figures every year for how much reserves they have.

    In any event, it's not reserves that are the problem. It's the inability to rapidly increase production that is the problem. U.S. oil production during WW2 basically doubled. This was possible because the U.S. had so much oil that they were withdrawing oil from the reservoirs at basically half the rate at which they were capable of being tapped. It was fairly easy to increase the amount of oil produced in that situation. But today, we're at about the peak that the existing oil wells can produce, and drilling new oil wells is a slow and painful process now because the new oil reserves are located in remote areas of the globe such as deep under oceans or deep within jungles where it's a PITA to drill. Total world oil production is probably right now at about 95% of what's capable to produce from the current wells.

    My conclusion: War will always be with us, but we've seen the last war like World War II. The world simply lacks the resources today to wage such a total war where tens of millions of soldiers and millions of warplanes, tanks, trucks, and jeeps are shipped halfway around the world and kept supplied with bombs, bullets, gas, and spare parts.

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  5. Tux -

    The numbers I have are world-wide. Ex-Saudi, we have.

    753,272 in 2000.

    107,5497 in 2009.

    Saudi numbers are pretty flat across the decade.

    You're probably right about production capacity utilization. But don't you think capacity is greater now than it was 65 years ago?

    The power of governments to ration and confiscate is virtually unlimited. I really don't think we're at a place where recourse limitations prevent global war.

    At a last resort, we'll go back to sailing ships.

    JzB

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