Can the Clash of Civilizations Produce Alternate Energy Sources? with the War in Iraq and the Muddle of the Middle East, the Time Is Ripe for the U.S. to Reduce Its Dependence on Oil from the Persian Gulf-But Where Can the Country Turn for New Sources of Energy?

By Marsh, Gerald E. | USA TODAY, January 2007 | Go to article overview

Can the Clash of Civilizations Produce Alternate Energy Sources? with the War in Iraq and the Muddle of the Middle East, the Time Is Ripe for the U.S. to Reduce Its Dependence on Oil from the Persian Gulf-But Where Can the Country Turn for New Sources of Energy?


Marsh, Gerald E., USA TODAY


IN THE SUMMER of 1993, Samuel Huntington published an article in Foreign Affairs that introduced an apt phrase into the lexicon of futurologists: "The Clash of Civilizations." Huntington maintained that the fundamental source of conflict in this century would be cultural rather than economic or ideological. While the clash that is developing between the Muslim world and the West is indeed cultural, it is driven by the economics of energy and, in particular, oil.

The use of oil is widespread in industry and will be irreplaceable in the transportation sector for decades. It also will be in short supply soon, according to Claude Mandil, executive director of the International Energy Agency, who warns that "the world's energy economy is on a pathway that is plainly not sustainable," and is one that will lead from "crisis to crisis." The IEA predicts that many of the oil fields the U.S. and Europe depend on will peak in the next five to seven years--and this includes those of Russia, the U.S., Mexico, and Norway. It is estimated that world energy demand will increase at least 50% by 2030. To meet this demand, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), where most of the world's remaining readily accessible oil is found, practically will have to double its production. Most of that increase must come from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.

"Peak oil" theorists assert that there will be growing conflict over the remaining oil resources and a high probability of a worldwide economic collapse. Such claims, however, show a misunderstanding of the meaning of "oil reserves." These reserves depend on price and are not a direct measure of the amount of oil physically available in the ground. There is plenty of oil, perhaps as much as the 7.2 trillion barrels estimated by ExxonMobil, but these reserves cannot be brought to market as cheaply as oil from the Persian Gulf, and the economics of oil dictate that cheaper oil will be used first. Moreover, these sources cannot begin production immediately; there is a ramp-up period of years. If the phasing in of such reserves does not match the decline of current oil fields, rising prices and conflict over resources are inevitable.

The members of OPEC recently agreed to cut production to show their determination to defend $60 per barrel as a minimum international price. This is high enough to allow a good profit to be made on oil from shale or tar sands, of which North America has enormous quantities. However, the Saudis know full well that it is unlikely anyone will invest the many billions of dollars needed to produce enough oil from these sources to threaten OPEC dominance. OPEC is a cartel and, if such an investment were to be made, OPEC would pump enough oil to drop world prices to the point where the investment would be threatened.

Saudi Arabia's costs of production certainly are below $60 per barrel. Remember, Saudi Arabia even turned a profit when oil was $15 per barrel a decade ago. However, the Saudis no longer have the flexibility they had in the 1990s. Samba, a Riyadh-based bank, estimates the Saudis now need at least $38 a barrel to fund the lavish lifestyle of the kingdom's royal family and its social welfare state. By 2010, they will need $65 a barrel. This constraint offers the West an opportunity to begin investment in secondary oil recovery as well as shale and tar sands.

The price of oil should not be measured in dollars alone, however. Because of the vast sums pouring into the Gulf region--and Saudi Arabia in particular--we also pay a price in blood: It is no accident that 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. It is the source of Wahhabism, an intolerant form of Islam, and the Saudis have used their vast wealth to spread it far beyond the land of its birth. Indeed, oil money from the Gulf also funds the terrorist activity of al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

In fact, after the discovery of oil, the extremist Wahhabi sect found itself in possession of "wealth beyond the dreams of avarice," says Near Eastern Studies scholar Bernard Lewis. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Can the Clash of Civilizations Produce Alternate Energy Sources? with the War in Iraq and the Muddle of the Middle East, the Time Is Ripe for the U.S. to Reduce Its Dependence on Oil from the Persian Gulf-But Where Can the Country Turn for New Sources of Energy?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.