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Security and Peak Oil Theory
Peak Oil refers to the utmost rate of production of oil in any region under consideration, bearing in mind that it is a limited resource, therefore subject to exhaustion. Security in reference to peak oil mainly means energy security. Today, the world depends on oil for 40% of its energy needs, virtually 70% of world’s transportation depends on oil products notably; petrol, diesel and natural gas. According to oil sector analysts, the amount of remaining oil reserves constantly varies from one research undertaking to another. For example, a U.S geological survey done in 2010 states that the adjusted estimates for undiscovered oil in the national reserve in Alaska reduced by 90% to 896 million barrels, down from a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels. Such cases as the one above pose an insurmountable challenge to policy makers in planning for life during and after a Peak Oil situation. On this basis, an Oil crisis is looming in the foreseeable future since it is widely believed that the end of oil reserves may hit the world unawares
Peak Oil and related security threats.
Although it is debatable whether an OilPeak will occur in the near future, such a scenario can present the world with a highly grave situation. This state of matters is further complicated by serious criticism raised by various energy groups about the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) apparent lack of control over matters concerning energy. Some of the energy security threats that could occur in the event of a peak oil situation include:
- The rise of Oil prices due to increasing demand and limited supply - oil prices could spiral out of control considering that demand is always increasing because of emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India. The United States is also increasingly dependent on oil. This could mean disaster to the developing economies as the giants jostle for the worlds last oil reserves.
- Acts of terrorism and sabotage on supply infrastructure. As the world’s oil reserves dwindle, terrorism is expected to increase since oil will become a very expensive and important commodity in the world markets. These sabotage attacks can happen in the oil producing countries or can be targeted to transportation infrastructure such as pipelines and oil carriers. They can be used by a variety of opinionated outfits to push their own political or economic agendas.
- Uneven distribution- some of the oil producing countries are prone to political instability and internal conflict. A clear case is that of Nigeria and very recently Libya. In the face of such disagreements, disruption of already scarce oil supplies can cause irreparable damage to especially small and emerging economies around the globe.
- Accidents and natural disasters - in the face of rising cases of natural disasters due to effects of global warming, a peak oil occurrence can make a bad situation even more treacherous. A good example is an oil spill by a merchant Oil Ship in one of the oceans. Such an incident can cause unexpected supply fluctuations therefore raising major economic and environmental concerns.
It is logical to conclude that the rise of Oil prices due to increasing demand and limited supply is the major threat to energy security. Curbing the rising fuel costs will entail major investments and further improvement and exploitation of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, and technologically superior vehicles. This requires significant policy measures which will be tough to accomplish due to lack of reliable oil estimates.
International economic organizations
The decision to set up economic organizations came up after the word differed significantly in areas like social rights, trade environment and stabilization policies. These institutions were created to organize societies on a global scale and improve the worst stricken countries unprofitably. The objective was to promote globalization equally in the most favorable way possible. The major areas of interdependence were to be allocated to specialized international institutions, however, this has led to the institutions having a lot of power which contradicts its objectives.
Purposes of International Economic Organizations
One of the major purposes of international organizations is to promote peace and provide humanitarian aid. The wars that we are faced with today are result of economic inequality, religious sectarianism, social conflicts, and even disputes over boundaries and basic resources like land and water. Leaders of major powers like the United States are using war as a way to resolve conflict. Countries are increasing military budgets to the benefits of many industries.
International Economic Organizations also promote international trade. The organization mandated for this purpose is the World Trade Organization. Its main purpose is to harmonize the different rules of trade and therefore abolish trade barriers between member states. The world trade organization has been criticized for promoting western interests through controversial structural adjustment programs which ended up further impoverishing third world countries.
They also maintain international peace and security. The main organization which maintains peace and security is the United Nations. It also enables better livelihoods, social development and human rights through its agencies. The UN provides peace keepers in war torn territories around the world. The UN did not act during the 1994 Rwanda genocide where 800,000 people died. This lack of action was attributed to the reason that it was not in the interest of the US and France to act. Therefore it goes on to show that it does not offer guaranteed security and stability if not in their interest. In the processes it widens the gap between developing and developed countries by creating the world of the winner and the losers.
Role Played by America in Creating International Economic Organizations
When the international monitory fund and the World Bank were created, the United States was at the forefront in determining their structure mandate and location. This set the United States to play a dominant role in these organizations. They had a third of the votes and, therefore, any course of action was majorly influenced by them.
To some extent, the institutions were formed in order to enforce policies that the United States supported. However the organizations have autonomy, for, if they did not, they would not have more legitimacy than the government agencies in the US. The IMF and World Bank adopt a strategy which allows the states political luxury without economic dividends of the world markets.
Participation in the multinational institutions does cost the United States. During the creation of the institutions, powerful state agreed to a set of rules and so it has to appear willing to subject to the rule, regardless of if they serve their own interest or not. The powerful states avoid this by making sure that rules are ambiguous in the anticipated areas of difficulty.
In conclusion, international financial organizations need to be recognized by their credibility, research and depth of interest in action to make a difference. Their ties with the United States crate tensions as they have to please this powerful political state and at the same time maintain credibility as multilateral organizations.
Liberal approach to development
Liberal approach to development seeks trade and a free and open market. It also emphasizes the growth of the private sector. This theory argues that the private sector role should be maximized in determining the economical and political priorities of a country. It entails privatization and contracting out government services. Generally, the government should not interfere in any way. This is considered to improve the economy of the nation and build a more efficient government, a good percentage of growth rate and prosperity.
Policy of Liberal Approach to Development
What makes up this process is international financial institution and transnational corporations. They include international monetary fund, world bank, world trade organization and the united nations. These offer international aid when there is crisis in the economy. With this kind of provision, indiscriminate subsidies and any wasteful spending should be redirected to projects that look for growth like education, good health care and infrastructure investments.
Facial policy when applied will play a very effective role in development. Governments should run only deficits that can comfortably be paid back, those that do not have a long time effect on the economy. High deficits result in low production and higher inflation; they should be used only when the economy is in dire need of stabilization, otherwise they are to be avoided. Innovation and efficiency will be broadened when there is tax reform. Countries are advised to lower tax tariff on imports from countries that they do not have trade agreements with. It is even better for these countries if they seek for duty-free bilateral trade.
Development is not measured only by the percentage growth. Human contentment of the citizens, local cultures, ethnic as well as religious groups are to be accommodated and considered. Intellectual traditions should be part of the process. Currently, the developing countries are blinded by the western definition of power and development. The objectives of the western world over the developing countries should not be allowed. These countries should be able to define and have their own goals that will lead to their definition of development.
One of the major courses of environmental problems and resources depletion is the ever increase in population. This leads to rise in world production and consumption. Comparative advantage is evident in facilitation of foreign investment, liberalization of trade and elimination of export and import controls. These policies have significant implications on integration world markets and export led production and import led consumption.
Liberal thinking emphasizes maximizing the role of market and minimizing the role of the state. The market is the preferred place for production and distribution of wealth as well as social mobility. Mechanism to regulate the market forces will have to be developed so as to incorporate benefits of development even to the lowest in society. Market forces should be run in accountability and transparency for effective governance.
The citizens will have an active role in Campaigning for their common interests. Democratic perspective of development should be applied and this can be obtained by social capital in form of civic networks based on reciprocity that enables the institution to better deliver.
In conclusion, unlike mercantilism that advocates for colonialism, a liberal approach to development is more sensitive to the peoples’ needs and this approach maintains good relationships with the countries that they are trading with. Liberated approach is a more recent development and it recognizes that there are many challenges in the market of the developing countries, so getting good results from it needs discipline and determination for prosperity.
Religion and its Relation to Nationalism
Religion is a set of belief structures and cultural systems generally agreed on and practiced by a group of people or factions. Nationalism is the attitude or feeling of belonging that people exhibit toward a state or nation in which they reside whether by choice or birth. A nation is an ethno-cultural entity consisting of persons of the same origin, culture and ethnicity and political domain. A state occupying a territory as a political unit is viewed by ‘nationalists’ as wholly belonging to one ethnic-cultural group, which is mandated to protect and propagate its traditions.
Since time immemorial, religion and nationalism have been interlinked in almost all civilizations in the latter part of the last millennia. These human groupings have manifested these two concepts in the form of religious nationalism. Religious nationalism is a concept which relates nationalism to religion in form of shared beliefs or dogma by a nation of people. A good example of religious nationalism is the Middle East countries like Pakistan and Iran which subscribe to Islam as national religions. Islam forms the basis of ethos and influences almost every aspect of society. Islam promotes the culture of brotherhood hence the immergence and promotion of nationalism in these countries. It is argued by a section of scholarly thought that this promotion of religion or religious belonging to national heights has led to religious extremism projected as nationalism and has spewed concepts such as ‘jihadists’, who evoke religious feelings to inspire fellow countrymen to perform acts of terror in perceived enemy territories. Of late, the target has been western imperialists.
Religious nationalism displays both positive and negative influences in states with religious tendencies. In the most evident cases, especially Christian and Islamic nations, it influences political, legal and cultural norms. Religious nationalism forges a strong union in a state where other internal differences such as wealth and ethnicity would have otherwise caused disunity. In the west, legislation has been largely influenced by Christian principles, although secularism plays a bigger role in recent times. Most religions practiced promote love for thy neighbor, hence, they enable peace dialogues between warring states.
In the 16th and 17th centuries religious nationalism was very much in action during the wars pitying the Catholics and the Protestants. More recently, religious sentiment rose in the Middle East immediately after the end of colonialism. The feeling in the Middle East was that western colonialists were to blame for economic and social woes experienced in the east. Since western countries are predominantly Christian, eastern nationalists promoted the perception that Islam practicing nations were undermined by the Christian crusaders. Since the events of September 11, this perception has been heightened to alarming levels were Islamic extremists kill in the name of Allah. In this case religious nationalism has been hijacked by extremists to play a negative role in these societies. The differing states of India and Pakistan separated predominantly because of religious differences.
Another aspect of religious nationalism lies in its application. In the case of western countries, the church has been separated from the state and a civil society administered by secular laws was formed. This autonomy has led to unprecedented economic growth. As to Muslim countries, the integration of religion into the state has led to economic loss whereby women are prohibited to work therefore denying these economies half of their workforce’s energies and skills, and entrusts the other half’s upbringing to illiterate and oppressed mothers. This leads to populace who are resistant to a free, open society, and narrow minded leading to economic stagnation.
Green Policies on Contemporary Ecological Thought
Ecological crisis is something that everyone needs to acknowledge and urgently act on how to reduce it. According to Wallis, Capitalists like to take their time and do not seem to give adequate response to a crisis as they should. An example is when a producer of a commodity that is much profitable to the government results in spread of toxins to fresh water when disposing the waste material; the crisis is belittled as continued production is an opportunity for profit. I believe that it is necessary to act quickly and find an alternative way of disposing such toxins or stop production in a way that brings about depletion of basic goods like fresh water and natural vegetation. Such a response will require mass education and awareness to the locals on the crisis and the reasons for this. One’s this is done, the existing power will seriously consider reducing activities that have negative effects on the ecosystem.
Ecological awareness to the capitalists is bearing fruits significantly. People are looking at living arrangements that are eco friendly. Enterprises like solar housing and organic markets are on the rise and this shows grassroots commitment to reduce the ecology crisis. The corporations have also shown commitment with formation of corporate environmentalism, which is defined as environmental actions that are not required by law. Also there is increase in the number of people assigned to deal with environmental issues.
Wallis points out that one of the major concepts that the ecosocialists have not captured is the way nature is being vied as a commodity. There have been ideas that the way to preserve natural forests and wetlands is to preserve it untouched. That means that a cash value is placed on nature and thus ecology system. When cash value is placed, there is ownership and rites to do as one wants with the part of nature they ‘own’. This means that the species survival gets to be at the mercy of decisions made by those who can afford to fund their activities that might not be eco friendly. It becomes even more problematic to all of us when the goods in place are essential for survival like unpolluted air and water.
According to Wallis there are three related requirements to a green economy; high tech innovation for toxic trash, cultural transformation and conviction as to what social and economic activities constitutes a good life and an end to militarism and imperialism. The most compelling actions for a producer is the need to contain dangerous substances, the same logic should apply in the need to protect vital resources. The military is keen on promoting capital. This then allows them to have freedom to what would rather not be encouraged. Example of their toxic practices is use of dioxin in Vietnam and huge consumption of oil. Their permissions should be reviewed and this would work positively in resource conservation. This would be an example to the public and it would initiate ecological consumption.
While these proposed ideas seem difficult to implement, when supported enough, it is very possible to make a difference. Green policies propose reduction in expansionist drives like mass production of goods that are not essential for human survival yet take up a lot of natural resources. Having in mind that things will change drastically for the better ecological consumption will flourish like it has in Cuba. In the 1990’s Cuba was short on oil supply and chemical fertilizer. There was mass importation of bicycles for transport and practice of organic farming methods. Today Cuba’s reforestation program runs as an environmental model.
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