Prepare For The Resource Wars

By: Tom Chatham

As the economy sinks deeper into oblivion and drought conditions cause devastating damage to crops nationwide, many people go about their daily lives hoping things get better, totally unaware of the problems growing in the shadows. The world runs on resources and the low hanging fruit has been harvested, leaving the more difficult commodities to be extracted.

The world has heard the arguments for peak oil. It is not that we will run out completely, but the fact that as the oil fields age, extraction of oil becomes more expensive. We have already passed peak world production that occurred in 2005. From now on every barrel of oil that is produced will cost increasingly more.

Keep in mind that energy is required for everything we do. Not only do we need it for electrical power and transportation but other natural resources that must be produced require vast amounts of energy for extraction. As the third world nations vie for better living standards, they will be competing for the limited resources that they must have to build up their economies.

The wars we fight overseas are to a large degree for the resources in that area. What is still unclear is why the global power brokers have the U.S. fighting for control of overseas resources when we still have vast untapped resources here that they refuse to let us use. It may be their way to bring all remaining resources under their control for later global control. It may be that the plan is to use everyone else’s resources and when they run out we will still have ours to draw from. The scenarios are endless but one thing is for certain, our natural resources are declining at a very rapid rate.

It is the depletion of our resources through unsustainable use that will lead to nations increasingly using military force to get the things they need. The U.S. has the best equipped military thus far but what happens to it when we run out of money to pay for that hardware? What will happen if a rising economy like China, decides they need our resources to further their consumption? The population is increasing substantially in the third world nations that will need resources in the future. These people see it as only fair that they should have the same living standard the U.S. has had in the past and it is now their turn to share in the wealth of the planet.

More people and fewer resources will inevitably lead to more conflict in the future for control of the dwindling water, food and energy resources and those that live in and around those resources will be in great danger. The green revolution brought greater agricultural production to the U.S. but that production came at the price of large quantities of oil needed for fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, transportation, processing and packaging. When the price of the energy to produce food becomes too great, the quantity and quality of our food will suffer. Those that have no wealth and are forced to bid on future resources will revolt at some point and will either have to do without or fight. The U.S. is mired in debt that can never be paid back without destroying the currency. The destruction of our currency would destroy the vast paper wealth that Americans have and turn us into a third world country almost overnight reducing our ability to bid for needed resources.

The need for water is even more grave than the need for food. Without water nothing lives or can be grown. The fresh water resources in the world are dwindling and becoming more polluted every day. Even in the developed world, water is becoming a scarce resource and our consumption of large amounts of it to support our standard of living is making it even worse as time goes on. The sad fact is we could have a high standard of living while reducing the amount we use but like everything else, the volume of water we use creates a lot of jobs and makes many people rich. In recent years several U.S. states have had disputes over water rights and as water sources dry up it will become worse. What will happen to places like Las Vegas and Phoenix in the future when water supplies are reduced to levels that cannot sustain their populations?

The need for petroleum is a major cause for fighting in the world. Many of the things we do require a great deal of energy and oil now fills that role. A major use of oil is for growing crops, and transporting goods around the world. In the past when goods were made and sold locally, the need for large amounts of energy were small. As the price and declining availability of oil increases many will have no choice but to revert to earlier forms of production and distribution. Those that are creating large industries will see it as a necessity to acquire the supplies of energy for their own use and many will be willing to fight for it. No military in the world can be powerful without oil so those with the largest militaries will be at the forefront of the forced acquisition of resources. At this very moment China is using its large cash reserves to buy up resources around the world including here in the U.S.

Other resources such as copper, zinc, iron ore, manganese and rare earth elements are the foundation of a modern society. Those that control these resources will grow and those that do not will be mired in poverty. Rare earth elements are hard to extract because they are, well rare, and they make the small powerful electronics we use possible. This also makes them a necessary element in military hardware. The ones that control the rare elements will have the most sophisticated military equipment that will give them a distinct edge on the battlefield. China produces the most rare earth elements and the last few years they have begun to restrict their export. The U.S. and Australia have deposits but they are less developed than Chinese production leaving the U.S military in a bad position if a major war should break out.

As the population increases and the world attempts to maintain the status quo it is inevitable that more wars will be fought for resources. Those producers that are as self sufficient as possible will have an advantage over the consumers in society and will fare better in the long run. A person living on a 20 ac diversified farm will have the ability to produce most of what they need and earn a living with the excess. The potential to produce all of the energy you need is possible even on this type of small acreage. A few acres of timber can provide wood for heating and cooking and even for fueling a wood gas generator for powering equipment and generators. The use of solar and wind energy can provide a majority of your electrical power. The production of bio-gas for cooking and power generation is possible in livestock operations. The production of ethanol from corn can provide additional energy for selected operations. The building of rain catchment systems to store rainwater for irrigation during drought conditions would allow the irrigation of small fields. With livestock to produce fertilizer and water storage systems, a small farm will be able to avoid many of the resource problems that larger farms would experience in the future. It is this type of localized production that will become more important in the future as resources become scarce and expensive.

As resources get tighter, expect inflammatory language and actions followed by armed conflict. It will not be just nation states with armies but corporations, states, municipalities and individuals in conflict with one another to seek their share of resources on various levels. These conflicts will likely be in conjunction with economic problems and could last years or decades until balance is restored by the advent of new energy systems or through population reduction reducing the demand on resources.

Innovation has always been the hallmark of civilization and we can solve the problems we face but only if we try. To continue down the road we are on just because it is easier than changing course will inevitably lead us to a dead end and the time it takes to get back on course will take much longer.

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Posted on August 9, 2012, in Economics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Prepare For The Resource Wars.

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