Sometimes we become so involved with our daily lives or with dramatic current events (the Arab Spring, Gaza, Syria’s crisis, the US elections) we fail to see far more potent developments hurling down the tracks toward us. Those events will hit every person and every nation on the planet–with full force. When it happens, most people will be unprepared.
For understandable reasons most people fail to see such tides of change coming until personally impacted Thus, in picking a safe lifetime career, many 1960 American high school graduates selected “sure thing” jobs and businesses that have become endangered species–journalism, travel agents, assembly line work, book stores, tv network professions and operating movie theaters. Politicians too were caught like a deer in the headlights. Smuggled 1980’s technology such as CDs and VCRs undermined Breshnev’s Russia and its monopoly over information far more effectively than anything the CIA or NATO forces could have done. Consider how the sieve-like internet, rock CDS, satellite TV and western movies is having the same impact on dictators worldwide. That technology as well is an inevitable byproduct of the computer revolution.
Sooner than you imagine a major change in energy production will touch all of us no matter where we live. Like the Industrial Revolution and the Computer Revolutionion it will affect politics, the economy, society, religion, etc. Rapdidly developing changes in the production of oil and natural gas production from shale are like to shake up everything, leaving some nations as big winners and others as major losers.
As recently as a decade ago oil rich Mideast monarchs and theocrats showed limited or no interest in diversifying their economies. They bet the house on rising oil prices caused by growing worldwide demands and limited supplies of oil. Even without the coming energy “surprise” rising birthrates and a youthful population prepare the ground for a potential explosion if you looked more closelly. Islamist governments–so reactionary, incompetent, backward looking, inflexible and repressive–are the least likely of all to prepare for change. Their futile efforts go into lessening popular desire for it which is akin to trying to stop peoople from breathing. Everything mullahs, jihadis and Taliban do for that purpose–restricting travel, Islamizing education, muzzling the press, repressing women, isolating nations, squandering cash on security forces and dreams of regional imperialism–squaders resouces for nothing while ensuring that the economic and technological dilemna will be far worse than it might have been with thoughtful leaders in charge.
For most of human history over 95% of human beings lived in grinding poverty. Cheap energy freed us, whether we live in Saudi Arabia or Denver. Had cheap energy disappeared, so would present living standards. In this sense the coming energy developments are very good news for countries with shale and technology (providing energyt producing firms don’t walk off with most of the profits. However, its not without a major drawback for both winners and losers because one likely impact will be to accelerate global warming and related all related catastrophes.
As soon as I can, I’ll be writing two subpost related to this. The first will describe the New Energy Revolution, winners and losers and other likely consequences. The second will deal primarily with global warning. In both I borrow from other sources (link provided) while adding some analysis of my own.