Mar 12, 2008

The Permanent Energy Crisis

posted March 11, 2008 09:53 am

Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Permanent Energy Crisis Hits Home

Back in January, on his trip to the Middle East, the President all but begged the Saudi royals -- the New York Times referred to his requests as "entreaties" -- to put more oil on the global market and so lower prices at the pump in the U.S., essentially saving his "legacy." In April 2005, in his previous meeting with then-Crown Prince, now Saudi King Abdullah, Bush was also fretting about oil prices. A barrel of crude was then pegged at $54. This time, the President who, in his seven years in office, has told the leaders of more nations more times what they "must" do, approached the Saudi king with the sort of diffidence (by his own description) that a needy vassal might employ with his liege lord.

No surprise there. By this Tuesday, the price of oil had crested above $109 a barrel, more than doubling since 2005, and a gallon of regular was already averaging $3.22 at U.S. gas pumps with the latest price leaps yet to register. Estimates for oil at $130 a barrel this year and $150 in 2009 are now common. Something else had changed as well -- the mood of the Saudis and the leaders of many other petro-powers. Last week, OPEC officially rejected the President's entreaty to immediately increase the oil supply without even a polite nod, instead suggesting that the Bush administration was mishandling the American economy. Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, couldn't have been blunter. There was no need, he insisted, to increase global supplies by "even one barrel of oil."

In fact, the global resource landscape is changing fast and the "sole superpower" on the planet is looking ever more forlorn. Over the years, no one has caught this changing landscape better than Michael Klare. Once again just ahead of the curve, he has produced a new book (to be published in mid-April), Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, that lays out the resource and power map of the planet, which is morphing in startling ways. Over the coming months, Klare will be producing a series of articles for based on the findings in his book. This is the first of them. His are words worth heeding. Tom

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