Greg Palast has for some time now been trying to answer the question, “Why are we really really in Iraq?”
“And what did the USA want Iraq to do with Iraq's oil? The answer will surprise many of you: and it is uglier, more twisted, devilish and devious than anything imagined by the most conspiracy-addicted blogger. The answer can be found in a 323-page plan for Iraq's oil secretly drafted by the State Department. Our team got a hold of a copy; how, doesn't matter. The key thing is what's inside this thick Bush diktat: a directive to Iraqis to maintain a state oil company that will "enhance its relationship with OPEC."
“Enhance its relationship with OPEC??? How strange: the government of the United States ordering Iraq to support the very OPEC oil cartel which is strangling our nation with outrageously high prices for crude.
“Specifically, the system ordered up by the Bush cabal would keep a lid on Iraq's oil production -- limiting Iraq's oil pumping to the tight quota set by Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel. “There you have it. Yes, Bush went in for the oil -- not to get more of Iraq's oil, but to prevent Iraq producing too much of it.
“You must keep in mind who paid for George's ranch and Dick's bunker: Big Oil. And Big Oil -- and their buck-buddies, the Saudis -- don't make money from pumping more oil, but from pumping less of it. The lower the supply, the higher the price.
“It's Economics 101. The oil industry is run by a cartel, OPEC, and what economists call an "oligopoly" -- a tiny handful of operators who make more money when there's less oil, not more of it. So, every time the "insurgents" blow up a pipeline in Basra, every time Mad Mahmoud in Tehran threatens to cut supply, the price of oil leaps. And Dick and George just love it.
“Dick and George didn't want more oil from Iraq, they wanted less. I know some of you, no matter what I write, insist that our President and his Veep are on the hunt for more crude so you can cheaply fill your family Hummer; that somehow, these two oil-patch babies are concerned that the price of gas in the USA is bumping up to $3 a gallon.
“Not so, gentle souls. Three bucks a gallon in the States (and a quid a litre in Britain) means colossal profits for Big Oil, and that makes Dick's ticker go pitty-pat with joy. The top oily-gopolists, the five largest oil companies, pulled in $113 billion in profit in 2005 -- compared to a piddly $34 billion in 2002 before Operation Iraqi Liberation. In other words, it's been a good war for Big Oil.”
Which brings us to another piece of the doom and gloom scenario:
Now that you’ve taken a look at the map below to see where you’re going to have to park your boat after the ice caps finish melting, let’s see if you’ll still be able to afford one.
Petrochemicals are key components to much more than just the gas in your car. As geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer points out in his article entitled, "Eating Fossil Fuels," approximately 10 calories of fossil fuels are required to produce every 1 calorie of food eaten in the US.
The size of this ratio stems from the fact that every step of modern food production is fossil fuel and petrochemical powered:
1. Pesticides are made from oil;
2. Commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas, which will peak about 10 years after oil peaks;
3. With the exception of a few experimental prototypes, all farming implements such as tractors and trailers are constructed and powered using oil;
4. Food storage systems such as refrigerators are manufactured in oil-powered plants, distributed across oil-powered transportation networks and usually run on electricity, which most often comes from natural gas or coal;
5. In the US, the average piece of food is transported almost 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate. In Canada, the average piece of food is transported 5,000 miles from where it is produced to where it is consumed.
In short, people gobble oil like two-legged SUVs.
It's not just transportation and agriculture that are entirely dependent on abundant, cheap oil. Modern medicine, water distribution, and national defense are each entirely powered by oil and petroleum derived chemicals.
In addition to transportation, food, water, and modern medicine, mass quantities of oil are required for all plastics, all computers and all high-tech devices.
Some specific examples may help illustrate the degree to which our technological base is dependent on fossil fuels:
1. The construction of an average car consumes the energy equivalent of approximately 20 barrels of oil , which equates to 840 gallons, of oil. Ultimately, the construction of a car will consume an amount of fossil fuels equivalent to twice the car’s final weight.
2. The production of one gram of microchips consumes 630 grams of fossil fuels. According to the American Chemical Society, the construction of single 32 megabyte DRAM chip requires 3.5 pounds of fossil fuels in addition to 70.5 pounds of water.
3. The construction of the average desktop computer consumes ten times its weight in fossil fuels.
4. The Environmental Literacy Council tells us that due to the "purity and sophistication of materials (needed for) a microchip, . . . the energy used in producing nine or ten computers is enough to produce an automobile."
Now, if you're not depressed enough yet, try reading this, or this pdf, or this U.S. Department of Energy projection.