Is life on earth reaching the tipping point, or is Paul Farrell worrying too much?
Commentary: A new era of depletion, collapse and austerity
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Yes, WWIII: The Great Commodities War to End All Wars. We’ve heard that before. Remember WWI, known as The War to End All Wars, 37 million casualties. WWII was bigger, 60 million. Will WWIII finally end all wars? Or end the world, civilization, planet?
And it’s already started folks, ending the Great American Dream.
Fasten your seat belts, soon we’ll all be shocked out of denial. Some unpredictable black swan. A global wake-up call will trigger the Pentagon’s prediction in Fortune a decade ago at the launch of the Iraq War: “By 2020 … an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies is emerging … warfare defining human life.”
And that’s also the clear message in “The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources,” the latest book by noted international security expert Michael Klare.
Earlier, about the same time as the Pentagon’s prediction, Klare published his classic, “Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict,” a look ahead to a world that he now hopes will not “end in war, widespread starvation, or a massive environmental catastrophe.” Although they are “the probable results of persisting in the race for what’s left.” Unfortunately, hope can’t trump reality in today’s race for what little is left.
We need men who pull no punches in describing what’s dead ahead, whether labeling it “Resource Wars” or “WWIII, The Great Commodities War That Can End Everything.” Klare does just that with this warning:
“It is true that eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and other finite materials cannot be accomplished overnight — our current reliance on them is just too great,” warns Klare, well aware that the forces of capitalism are trapped in denial, cannot see the dangers dead ahead, focusing only on getting richer no matter the consequences to the planet.
“But no matter how much corporate or government officials wish to deny it, there is not nearly enough non-renewable resources on this planet to perpetually satisfy the growing needs of a ballooning world population.”
All major nations are quietly preparing for Resource Wars
Even worse, in today’s world run by climate-denying billionaires, Klare warns “existing modes of production are causing unacceptable damage to the global environment. Eventually continuing with current industrial practices will simply prove impossible. And precisely because implementing a whole new industrial order will be a lengthy task, any delay in beginning that work will prove costly, as resources keep dwindling and their prices continue to rise.”
If there is a race, it’s a downhill race to WWIII: The Great Commodity Wars. The world’s great powers are accelerating war preparations — yes, they are in the early logistical build-up stage, amassing the resources and arms to send troops into battle.
And they’re doing it in a world lost in denial, sinking deeper into a collective conscience that pretends our problems will be solved by the magic of free-market capitalism, unwilling to admit it not only no longer exists, it has morphed into an anarchy controlled by a bizarre conspiracy of Super Rich narcissists.
Welcome to the New Era of Resource Depletion and Austerity
Yes, the planet is at a historic turning point. You must plan for black swans, earth-shaking wake-up calls — a perfect storm of global wars, mass starvation, pandemics, environmental catastrophes.
The critical mass is building. We’re just not listening, especially conservative politicians, Wall Street CEOs and the Super Rich, who dismiss the warnings of men like environmentalist Bill McKibben, money manager Jeremy Grantham, anthropologist Jared Diamond and global security expert Michael Klare all warning us to wake up, before it’s too late to react, let alone plan.
Listen to the warnings: “The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of resource depletion — a crisis that goes beyond ‘peak oil’ to encompass shortages of coal and uranium, copper and lithium, water and arable land. With all of the planet’s easily accessible resource deposits rapidly approaching exhaustion, the desperate hunt for supplies has become a frenzy of extreme exploration, as governments and corporations rush to stake their claims in areas previously considered too dangerous or remote.”
Wars to grab what’s left … until nothing’s left … for anybody
Klare opens on a fascinating replay of Russia’s 2007 risky deployment of a mini-submarine using a robotic arm to plant a titanium flag deep under the polar ice cap, two and a half miles below the surface of the North Pole. Why?
Forget national pride. In recent years as climate change warms this “frozen wasteland,” Russia, as well as Canada, the U.S. and other nations are laying a claim to long-ignored “vast deposits of oil, natural gas and valuable minerals.”
Faced with an impossible equation — out-of-control global population growth plus rapid depletion of nonrenewable resources equals mega-catastrophes — the big players are all selfishly grabbing and hoarding scarce commodities … like desperate banana republic dictators as the entire world sinks into pure anarchy, scrambling for a share of what little’s left, until nothing is left for anyone.
13 reasons why this time is so very, very different
This time the challenges the world is facing really are very different from any prior time in history, warns Klare: “While the current assault on remote resource frontiers bears some similarities to the historical exploration of undeveloped territories,” such as the Roman Empire’s expansion, today’s global threats are “in many important ways different from anything that has come before.”
Why? Because “never before have we seen the same combination of factors that confronts us today.”
Here are the five biggest reasons the next few decades are so crucial to the survival of the planet and our civilization:
- Scarce nonrenewable commodities are rapidly and permanently disappearing.
- There are no “new frontiers” to open up as existing reserves disappear forever.
- Population growth is creating a “sudden emergence of rapacious new consumers.”
- Economic, technical and environmental add increasing limitations on exploration.
- Climate change is having “devastating” unintended consequences on energy.
Klare adds that in “many cases, the commodities procured will represent the final supplies of their type.” Get it? “The race we are on today is the last of its kind that we are likely to undertake.”
Seven other factors are reviewed or come to mind that definitely are risk factors that increase the probability of massive global catastrophes:
- Rapid rise of powerful new resources competitors, China, Africa, Saudis
- New warrior mind-set willing to grab or fight for new territories and borders …
- Conservative strategy preferring existing industrial methods rather than develop new more costly technologies and innovative alternatives …
- Lack of a political will to invest government funds that would incur more debt to prime the innovation …
- The time needed to prepare for known threats is rapidly vanishing …
- America is rapidly morphing from a democracy into a Super Rich anarchy …
- Failure to grasp that this new era of “peak everything” means that the lack of resources will increase scarcity and austerity across all nations …
And finally, the total failure to accept and encourage any kind of population controls, even denying birth control, without which all other strategies will be futile.
13 triggers that will ignite WWIII: the Great Commodity Wars
Soon, even the myopic dinosaurs in the oil, coal and fossil-fuels industries, the guys who have been bragging about having 200 or more years of reserves, will be hit with a catastrophic wake-up call, as these risk factors balloon to critical mass and a flash point — fueled by commodity wars, pandemics, global starvation, environmental crises, skyrocketing commodity prices and accelerating population growth.
But by then, as Klare and others like him warn, it will be too late for the fossil-fuel dinosaurs.
Whether you’re a hard-line climate-denying billionaire capitalist or a liberal-leaning environmentalist, you need to read Michael Klare’s new “Race For What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources.” Or as I prefer to call it, either, “The New Era of Depletion, Austerity and Collapse,” or “WWIII: The Great Commodity Wars to End All Wars.” It’s a must-read.