- Peace Garden: Numbing us for the future?

Numbing us for the future?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The end of oil is just a game

On a futuristic battlefield littered with broken oil wells, burnt-out electric cars and dilapidated wind turbines, you are leading crack military unit on a mission to secure the world's last remaining oil supplies. Your enemies are the Russians and Chinese, who are of course after the same prize. Suddenly machine guns rattle, men are hit, the helicopter goes down, and you're in the middle of an intense firefight in Central Asia.
Over the last two decades prior to 2030 oil production has peaked and is declining rapidly, renewables never panned out, plagues hit, and starvation ensued. In other words, things have been very bad, at least according to Kaos Studios, the maker of this video game you're playing. "It's a mess, it's a real wreck in there," said Frank DeLise, Kaos' general manager.
While Frontlines: Fuel of War is one of the first video games to capitalize on the doom-and-gloom scenario of what might happen when the world runs out of oil, it's not the only video game focusing on energy as oil prices rise, developing nations use more and more crude, and the world grapples with global warming fears.
But Anderson, the psychologist, is concerned about the message that violent games like Fuel of War may send to players. "It may well change attitudes towards the use of these tactics as a political tool," he said. Players may think "of course we have to use military tactics to go take oil."
It was the reason we are in Iraq. It is the reason we are eyeing Iran and Venezuela. It is the outlook put out my many including James Kunstler
The upshot of all this is that we are entering a historical period of potentially great instability, turbulence and hardship. Obviously, geopolitical maneuvering around the world's richest energy regions has already led to war and promises more international military conflict. Since the Middle East contains two-thirds of the world's remaining oil supplies, the U.S. has attempted desperately to stabilize the region by, in effect, opening a big police station in Iraq. The intent was not just to secure Iraq's oil but to modify and influence the behavior of neighboring states around the Persian Gulf, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia. The results have been far from entirely positive, and our future prospects in that part of the world are not something we can feel altogether confident about.
And then there is the issue of China, which, in 2004, became the world's second-greatest consumer of oil, surpassing Japan. China's surging industrial growth has made it increasingly dependent on the imports we are counting on. If China wanted to, it could easily walk into some of these places -- the Middle East, former Soviet republics in central Asia -- and extend its hegemony by force. Is America prepared to contest for this oil in an Asian land war with the Chinese army? I doubt it. Nor can the U.S. military occupy regions of the Eastern Hemisphere indefinitely, or hope to secure either the terrain or the oil infrastructure of one distant, unfriendly country after another. A likely scenario is that the U.S. could exhaust and bankrupt itself trying to do this, and be forced to withdraw back into our own hemisphere, having lost access to most of the world's remaining oil in the process.

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