Don't know how many people read Sunday's cover story in The New York Times Magazine
, "The Breaking Point,"
but it's the scariest piece of reporting and analysis I've read in some time. Going to war for oil doesn't seem remotely implausible after reading Peter Maass' article, which raises essential concerns about the status of the massive Saudi oil reserves.
Maass considers what will happen when—the article suggests it's no longer a matter of "if"—the world's daily demand for oil begins to exceed production capability. It's not a question of the well running dry, he writes. Disaster will occur long before that, as the inability to satisfy demand sets off a toppling-domino string of international disasters, starting with triple-digit prices per barrel and global recession. Say goodbye to your climate-controlled habitat, as the cost of heating and cooling skyrockets.
One might expect the Saudis to see "peak oil" as a bonanza. Not so, Maass writes. The effect would be disastrous, as the inevitable downturn in oil purchasing would cause a nosedive in price per barrel, cripple the country's economy, and produce a huge unemployed underclass (already estimated near 20 percent) seething with discontent.
Anyway, this is an absolute must-read—especially after yesterday's announcement
of the laughable new Bush fuel economy regulations, which exempt vehicles like Hummer H2s. (Apparently there aren't enough of them to matter.) According to the Times
, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta delivered the news in a show of solidarity with hard-hit Americans at a service station—after rolling up in a gas-guzzling Lincoln Navigator. Next time maybe he'll announce a war on poverty between courses at The Palm.