Obama tells us in his Lansing speech:
We know that we cannot sustain a future powered by a fuel that is rapidly disappearing. … Not when the rapid growth of countries like China and India mean that we’re consuming more of this dwindling resource faster than we ever imagined. We know that we can’t sustain this kind of future.
Natural resources are limited by definition, but how limited? At the time of the Trojan War, the Greeks relied on bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, for their armor and swords. With limited technology, the Greeks mined surface deposits of copper with very primitive techniques. There is archeological evidence that Europeans were recycling bronze, normally an indication of high prices, as early as 4,000 years ago.
World copper production has been increasing more or less continuously for at least 6,000 years. Since 1900, annual global copper output has increased by a factor of 300. Why haven’t we run out of this limited resource? The answer is that resource economics are a race between depletion and technology. Technology can win over very long periods of time, in this case thousands of years. We have moved from searching for surface concentrations of copper to mining ore deposits containing less than 1% copper at an altitude of 14,000 feet in Chile.
When people talk about limited oil resources, they tend to mean proven reserves of conventional oil – a very limited definition referring to oil deposits that have been identified and can be recovered with 90% certainty with today’s prices and technology. But the world is full of hydrocarbons that we just haven’t figured out how to produce yet.
Estimates of proven conventional oil reserves are around 2 trillion barrels (42 gallons per barrel), and we’ve already used about half that amount. At our current consumption rate of 85 million barrels per day, we have about 32 years’ of supply left. If oil production continues to increase, this time period will get shorter. Pretty scary, right?
Not necessarily. First, we haven’t discovered all the conventional oil yet. The US Geological Survey estimates that another 2½ trillion barrels are yet to be discovered. That would give us over 110 years of supply.
We also have large amounts of what is known as “unconventional” oil – heavy oil in tar sands and other formations located primarily in Canada and Venezuela. We’re starting to access these resources using a combination of mining and oil production techniques, and the resource is very large – at least another 4½ trillion barrels – taking our potential supply to over 250 years. And we’re not done yet.
Shale oil, a primitive form of petroleum generally locked in tight rock formations, is estimated at another 2½ trillion barrels. And most of it is in the United States. We also have 4½ trillion barrels worth of coal and 2½ trillion barrels of natural gas, both of which can be converted into liquid fuels with known technologies. That gives over 500 years of hydrocarbons, not including such exotic resources as methane hydrates (natural gas locked in an ice matrix on the ocean floor) which could be over 30 trillion barrels in the US alone.
It is certainly true that we don’t know how to access these new resources yet without environmental damage or prohibitive cost. We also, however, do not yet know how to produce solar or wind power economically. Technology is an enormously powerful force, and it is a major shaper of our society. If history is any guide, we will find better ways in the future of not only accessing available hydrocarbons but of mitigating the environmental impacts.
I have often offered my students “Everett’s hypothesis” which states that at any time in human history, proven reserves of essential materials tend to grow to about 30 years’ supply and no more. Why? Because the discounted future value of anything more than 30 years in the future is very small, and hence not worth much time and effort. This hypothesis is unprovable, but, if true, suggests that available resources would have appeared “unsustainable” at any point in human history if we assume no continuous technological development.
My personal guess? The world will consume more hydrocarbons a hundred years from now than it does today at a lower real price and with less environmental impact.
After Obama’s May 18 speech called for establishing a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, world headlines suggested a rift with Netanyahu, misinterpreting what he meant. More on that below.
On May 17, in fact, New York Times writers Mark Landler and Helene Cooper headlined, “As Uprisings Transform Mideast, Obama Aims to Reshape the Peace Debate,” saying:
Ahead of his speech, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he’d offer “some specific new ideas about US policy toward the region.”
Unidentified officials also suggested he might endorse a Palestinian state within 1967 borders. Doing so, however, would represent “less of a policy shift than a signal” that Washington wants Israel to make concessions to restart peace talks – a gesture, whether or not substantive with teeth.
On May 17, after meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Obama said:
“Despite the many changes, or perhaps because of the many changes that are taking place in the region, it’s more vital than ever that both Israelis and Palestinians find a way to get back to the table and begin negotiating a process whereby they can create two states that are living side by side in peace and security.”
Moreover, his May 22 AIPAC speech affirmed his unwavering support for a “strong and secure Israel.”
As a result, “I and my administration have made the security of Israel a priority. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies. And it’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels.”
Moreover, current regional events and realities motivated his peace proposal some call radical and unacceptable. In fact, “(t)here was nothing particularly original in (it). This basic framework….has long been the basis for discussions….including (for) previous US administrations (within) the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps….”
It’s for “the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – (to) negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” taking into account the “new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples,” no matter his agreeing to all key Israeli demands, excluding what Palestinians most want, assuring no possibility for peace, reconciliation and true Palestinian self-determination.
In fact, Washington and Israel both endorse an Oslo type agreement, a shameless betrayal amounting to another Palestinian Versailles, benefiting Israel, not them, what no legitimate Palestinian leader will accept.
On May 19, Times writer Cooper headlined, “Obama and Netanyahu, Distrustful Allies, Meet,” saying:
Ahead of their meeting, both “men are facing a turning point in a relationship that has never been warm. By all accounts, they do not trust each other.” Obama told aides he doesn’t think Netanyahu will yield enough for peace. “For his part, Mr. Netanyahu has complained that Mr. Obama has pushed Israel too far….”
In fact, under present and past leaders, both countries abhor peace. For example, in the 1980s, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir admitted that Israel’s 1982 Lebanon war was waged because of “a terrible danger….not so much a military one as a political one.”
So a pretext was created for war like Washington’s done repeatedly since WW II, pursuing its permanent war agenda against one country, then others without letup to satisfy its imperial/military-industrial complex appetites.
On May 19, Times writer Ethan Bronner headlined, “Netanyahu Reponds Icily to Obama’s Remarks,” saying:
He responded “testily” to Obama’s endorsing a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, in contrast to Haaretz saying he “granted Netanyahu a major diplomatic victory” by leaving undefined the size or locations of a Palestinian state. It also quoted Netanyahu saying:
“Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” adding that he expects him to refrain from demanding Israel withdraw to “indefensible (1967 borders) which will leave a large population of Israel in Judea and Samaria and outside Israel’s borders.”
He did, in fact, at AIPAC’s annual conference, showing that those calling his position radical are wrong. They misstate unchanged Washington policy, affirming rock-solid support for Israel, agreeing on all core issues.
Moreover, key Israel/Palestinian ones remain to be negotiated, no matter that Washington and Israel spurn diplomacy and concessions over major ones, including the inviolable right of return and Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital. It’s why decades of peace talks were stillborn and remain so, regardless of political rhetoric, urging their resumption.
On May 20, Times writer Steven Myers headlined, “Divisions Are Clear as Obama and Netanyahu Discuss Peace,” saying:
“Mr. Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept a return to the (pre-1967) boundaries….calling them indefensible.” In fact, Obama doesn’t want Israel to relinquish its settlements, home to about 500,000 West Bank and East Jerusalem Jews.
Moreover, on February 18, Washington vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal under international law. The vote was 14 yes, America the sole no, isolating the US and Israel on this long festering issue. The measure had 120 co-sponsors, an overwhelming endorsement for what Obama rejects.
Nonetheless, headlines keep suggesting a growing rift, including from Haaretz writers Natasha Mozgovaya and Barak Ravid’s May 22 article headlined, “Obama to address AIPAC in wake of tense meeting with Netanyahu at White House,” saying:
“Senior officials (from both countries) expressed a sense of great tension and profound mutual insult following the meeting.” At AIPAC, Obama “is expected to try to stave off further deterioration in US-Israeli relations.”
In fact, Netanyahu “left the (White House) more satisfied than he went in” after Obama pledged America’s longstanding rock solid support, leaving Palestinians out of their equation entirely.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
So, drawing from what we’ve learned around the world, we think it’s important to focus on trade, not just aid; on investment, not just assistance. The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young. America’s support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform, and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy. And we’re going to start with Tunisia and Egypt.
First, we’ve asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at next week’s G8 summit for what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt. Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year. And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-term financial needs.
Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen.
Third, we’re working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region. And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.
Fourth, the United States will launch a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. If you take out oil exports, this entire region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland. So we will work with the EU to facilitate more trade within the region, build on existing agreements to promote integration with U.S. and European markets, and open the door for those countries who adopt high standards of reform and trade liberalization to construct a regional trade arrangement. And just as EU membership served as an incentive for reform in Europe, so should the vision of a modern and prosperous economy create a powerful force for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.
A Russian newspaper reports that Moscow has given three warnings to Israeli military attaché to Russia Colonel Vadim Leiderman before expelling him.
Liederman contacted Russian military officials without first coordinating with the Russian Foreign Ministry, Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said on Monday.
Russia warned the Israeli Embassy in Moscow several times that Leiderman has violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, according to the paper.
The Soviet-born Israeli Air Force Colonel was arrested during a May 12 meeting with Russian officials.
Following the warnings issued in November 2009, April 2010 and December 2010, Israeli diplomats have promised that all of the actions of the military attaché would be in strict compliance with the Vienna Convention.
However, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that Leiderman was expelled because of his attempts to acquire secret information on military sales to Arab states.
The FSB said in a statement that it had “impregnable evidence” of the “illegal activities in our country, whose substance was to recruit a number of Russian civilians as possible information providers.”
Words From the First Intifada
In 1987, after the First Intifada started, I remember sitting in a coffee shop in New York and overhearing words that stung and burned and never left me. I wrote down my thoughts in a sketchbook at the time, but never brought them forward; I forever regret not having said anything at the time. Last Sunday, two-and-a-half decades later, I took part in the debut of the Third Intifada in Maroun Ar-Ras at the border between Lebanon and Palestine. I recall these words now, updated as the occasion warrants.
“Let them starve!”, you said, slamming your coffee down; “let them starve in the desert!” you said, speaking, as you were, of a desert ancient as time, of a far away desert you never knew, that you never left for never having been and that nonetheless you claim, that now is left bereft of its bedouin, as the land your fellow gentry occupy is left cleansed of its people, abandoned of its owners now set adrift. The land grieves its diaspora, screams aloud their names, remembers each and every name writ in the spilt blood of the countless thousands you’ve disappeared and murdered in vengeful sprees ghastly in their forethought, stunning in their exactitude. “Let them starve!”, you said, defining in the negative your willed absence of a people from a place that yet denies this forgetting, this ground sodden with the tears of all lifetimes.
“Let them rot!” you said, your vague pronoun spat out; “let them starve in the desert!” you said, the fact that “they” exist apparently crime enough, the fact that “they” resist seemingly criminal enough for your judgment, your sentence, your execution; and thus you complete your discrete logic: the annihilation of those who, to you, never were; a double negative that sums up your false positive. And so is unleashed your displacement, your dispossession, your theft, your will to kill, and you, come unhinged. Of all people. And so fly unfettered your noisome epithets, your ghettos, your destruction, your murderous zeal. You, of all people.
You slammed your coffee down and spat out said menace, and I stopped, and I turned, and I caught your eye. I thought: What is so easily said is much more easily done. “Let them starve in the desert! Let them rot in the sun! “Let them riot in Gaza!” you said, and our eyes met, and I saw you, and I saw you seeing me, and I completed your thought, computed your equation; I arrived at your horrid calculus, infinitely revealed in your possessing, usurping, stealing, as well as in your means and ways and methods. And you coldly enacted your endeavor, and you plotted your task, with a bureaucrat’s precision, a mild surprise only that you stop not to collect the shoes, nor the watches, nor the spectacles, while you seem to so value the skin, and the bones, and the eyes. You, of all people.
And although many years have passed since hearing these words, I hereby hasten to inform you that there is no tiring the returnee; and there is no fatigue in these steps six decades after Catastrophe; there is no slowed pace of the generations who follow in their path and who spite the locks and their lockmasters, who despite your barbed wires and barricades are destined to see brethren delivered gleefully through your doors, are ordained to witness the dispersed masses come smiling across your borders, are primed and ready to overtake your gauntlets and gates; if need be receding to re-gather strength, a reclaiming, a repossession, a retaking, a return, and a recalling of your own very prescient warning: “A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily.” You are thus haunted by your very own words, henceforth made manifest.
“Let them riot in Gaza!” you said, and I saw you, and I saw you seeing me, and in that held gaze was a promise, and in my pause was a covenant, and I wrote those words down to forever remind me, I noted down your threat which is hereby reciprocated with interest accrued a hundred-thousand-fold. And now, 25 years later, I keep this promise by coming down to that border with those thousands upon thousands who would come down; by accompanying those who have left their square-kilometer meager allotment, who have decamped to this false demarcation, who have descended to this no-man’s-land falsely partitioned, to this bogus border; to return with those who will one day soon, the grace of God willing, come home.
And be further informed that we will riot in Gaza; we fully intend to riot in Gaza, and in Golan, in Maroon Ar-Ras and in Naqoora; in Rafah, Ramallah, and Karameh. And soon must come your avowal, your acknowledgment, your surrender. Then must come the dismantling, the demolishing, the unsettling. Then must come the great pause, and the gathering, and the Return. And I vow for those who elseways have traversed your hellish gates, who elsewise have suffered your deadly portals, an endless patience, a constant and determined descent, a third and final wave with no end, a divesting, a de-mining of obstacles, an end to the debacle, an existence in resistance. And your day is come. And you will bear the burden of your crimes.
Hundreds of students have reportedly quit the University of Bahrain to protest against the ruling regime’s brutal crackdown on their anti-government peers.
Students say they left classrooms due to the government’s so-called protection measures and tight security at the campus.
Classes at the University of Bahrain resumed a couple of days ago after authorities installed new surveillance cameras across the university.
The facility was ransacked around two months ago during the unrest that has gripped the Persian Gulf state for over three months.
All students must now re-register with the university and sign a code of conduct. Each student is given a compulsory identification card that must be worn at all times on campus.
According to Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), the University of Bahrain is planning to accept only pro-government students and those refusing to sign a pledge of loyalty to the government will be expelled from the only national higher education institution in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
Since the beginning of anti-regime protests in Bahrain in mid-February, Manama has launched a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, rounding up senior opposition figures and activists in dawn raids and arresting doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists who have voiced support for the protest movement.
Scores of protesters have been killed and many others have gone missing since the protests broke out.