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home >> global news >> global visions >> The Twilight of The Era of Cheap Oil

The Twilight of The Era of Cheap Oil
March 10, 2005

by Curtis Lang print version
print version (graphics)
Preparing The Evening Meal

 

Welcome to the March 10, 2005 weekly edition of the Satya Center newsletter.

To subscribe to the newsletter, use the module in the upper left hand corner of this page.


Today’s New Moon occurs at 20° Pisces, symbolized in the Sabian system as: “A table set for the evening meal”. The esoteric theme is that of the soul returning home at the end of a cycle of development, reconnecting with the web of inter-related souls who have shared a portion of the long evolutionary journey, and sharing nourishment among the karmically connected group.

This image has special resonance in the context of today’s newsletter, with many stories gathered from around the web to nourish the group of people who read these emails. This is your meal, and I hope you find its dishes nourishing.

Many of the stories gathered this week focus on the impending end of the era of cheap oil, which will create a time of global and individual choice, driven by necessity. We are in the evening time of the age of mass industrialization and consumption.We now approach the culmination of a long spiritual cycle that has been focused on the development of the individual sense of self, and so it is no surprise that we live in an age of self-consciousness, self-centered behavior and rampant individualism.

At this twilight time between the ages, some nations, driven by ego and greed, will choose the path of the war of all against all, the path of resource wars among nations. Some individuals, seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of others, will pursue personal power and seek to dominate their fellows, to the detriment of their own spiritual development.

Others will choose the path of community, the path of voluntary simplicity, mutual nourishment and environmental stewardship. Even now, in many parts of the world, old souls are gathering in this magical twilight time, preparing to share their wealth, preparing to nourish one another with the accumulated treasures of their talents, preparing to forge the social structures that will become models for post-industrial, post-cheap oil communities. This path of sharing freely and connecting deeply with one another will open our awareness to the true nature of our interdependence with others and with our environment. This path of mutual service will thus nourish our bodies, minds and souls.

Let us ponder the words of the sacred Tao Teh Ching:

“Let there be small communities with few inhabitants.
The supply of vessels may be more than enough,
yet no one would use them.
The inhabitants would love living there so dearly
that they would never wish to move to another place.
They may have every kind of vehicle,
but they would not bother to ride them.
They may have powerful weapons,
but they would not resort to using them.



They would return to a simple system of cords and knots
to record their simple events,
as was done in ancient times.
They would be content with plain food, pleased with
simple clothing, satisfied with rustic but cozy homes,
and would cling to their natural way of life.
The neighboring country would be so close at hand
that one could hear its roosters crowing
and its dogs barking along the boundaries.
But, to the end of their days, people would rarely
trespass the territory of another’s life.”

--translated by Hua-Ching Ni

Top Satya Center Stories of the Week

Just in time for the advent of spring gardening, Satya Center’s Simplicity Guru, Nancy Castleman, offers a treasure-trove of tips on how to maximize your gardening efficiency and pleasure while minimizing brain strain and hassle.

All the Flowers of Tomorrow Are In All the Seeds of Todaycontains the distillation of Nancy’s 24 years of gardening experience. “Gardening is a key ingredient of the simple lifestyle Marc and I have chosen,” Nancy explains.“Since 1981, we've devoted a ton of our time to growing, harvesting, storing, and eating our own produce. Our vegetable garden was small at the start, but it now measures some 10,000 square feet. There are over a dozen fruit trees and at least as many flower beds scattered about, plus a raspberry patch and a homemade greenhouse, where I start everything we grow from seed. We're not entirely self-sufficient, not by any means, but know we could be, which is very comforting in these tough times.”

We have been the fortunate recipients of seedlings from Marc & Nancy’s wonderful garden. As well as having eaten many delicious meals at their table, sharing in their resourcefulness & abundance. We have never seen so many ripe sweet peas at one meal!

As you prepare for your own spring planting, whether in a window box, a clay pot or a garden, you can find some reliable seed suppliers on our new Plant Medicine page.

Esoteric Astrologer Malvin Artley goes deep into the cosmic significance of the sign of the Fish in Deconstructing the Spiritual Nature of Pisces”. Pisces is the sign that most embodies the “World Savior”. The Pisces Full Moon late last month marks a finishing up of the year’s preparatory business prior to the inauguration of the high spiritual festivals of the spring and summer.

This article contains a profound analysis of the spiritual significance of this month’s Pisces energy and of the true meaning of the Piscean archetype, which is far different from the wishy-washy passive-aggressive personality served up by conventional astrologers.

In Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh - Companions for overcoming work-related stress?”, Dr. Ross Rentea, M.D., explores the efficacy of gold, frankincense and myrrh from the perspective of anthroposophical medicine. Gold, frankincense and myrrh have profound, demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, and offer relief from work-related joint pains without the danger of harmful side effects. These three gifts from the Magi confer profound physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits on the user.

“Rudolf Steiner gave significant insights about these substances from his own spiritual research,” says Dr. Rentea. “He pointed out that the gifts of the three Magi were meant to strengthen the development of the Jesus child in three ways. The first help was from gold for the growth of the physical body, connected to the sun forces. The second, frankincense, was for the development of a harmonious soul life. For this, the incense form was supposed to be paramount. Thirdly, myrrh was to enhance the spiritual development. Myrrh oil was used by the Egyptians, for example, for embalming and for those processes that have to do directlywith the passage of consciousness into a higher spiritual world.”

In Reiki and the Zero-Point Field”, this author (Satya Center Editor Curtis Lang) draws upon the work of Satya Center contributor and biologist Rupert Sheldrake, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman and Einstein protégé John Wheeler to answer the question: “Where does Reiki energy come from?”

I theorize that we are beings of light in a holographic universe, electro-colloidal suspensions of particulate matter in a primarily liquid medium, infused with and surrounded by a coherent energy field, the aura. In this article, I trace the history of energy medicine and the mythology of universal life force energy in both Eastern and Western traditions, and come to the startling conclusion that what Western scientists now call The Zero-Point Field is really God’s aura, the source of all Reiki energy.

Satya Center Editor Jane Sherry offers two complementary new recipes this week. Roasted Beet and Pecan Saladis colorful, refreshing, and easy to prepare. Slow roasting of starchy winter root vegetables concentrates the natural sugar content, while high temperature roasting tends to caramelize the food, also concentrating flavor. Jane adds roasted nuts and fennel seeds to the mix in this recipe, and tops it all off with a delicious Salad Vinaigrette.Jane explores a number of variations on this classic dressing, including creamy and non-creamy, with and without garlic, with and without fruits, with apple cider or rice wine vinegar, and, of course, with a variety of herbs, medicinal and edible, and even edible flowers as an addition to salad courses.

Top News Stories From Around the Web

For today’s top stories, don’t forget to check out Satya Center’s 24/7 newsfeed with breaking news headlines from Pacific News Service.

Other Top Stories on the Web

For the Sake of Our Children  
Earthlight, by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Winter 2005 
  
We are living today in a science fiction nightmare, a world where, because somebody gave money to a politician, our children are brought into a world where the air is too poisonous for them to breathe. 
  
. . .Franklin Roosevelt said that the domination of our nation by large corporations is the definition of fascism. I have an American Heritage Dictionary, and the definition, if you look up fascism, says, "the domination of government by large corporations driven by right-wing ideology and bellicose nationalism" - that's getting to look pretty familiar.
  
The problem with letting large corporations dominate our government is that it erodes democracy, it erodes our capacity to participate in public life, our capacity for dignity, and it allows these entities to squander resources that belong to our children. But the thing that we've squandered worst of all is our natural heritage: the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the wildlife, the lands - all these things that make us proud to be American.

The Case for the Draft: America can remain the world's superpower. Or it can maintain its current all-volunteer military. It can't do both.
Washington Monthly, By Phillip Carter and Paul Glastris, March 2005
  
(Ed. Note: Here is the elite Washington consensus view, ie the moderate Democratic-Republican non-neocon view of the current need for a draft in the US. It is quite clear that a draft is inevitable. The American military is overstretched. To the American elites, the military’s overstretch is a blessing in disguise. The elites want a draft to militarize US society as much as possible in preparation for upcoming resource wars in an era of scarcity. A draft would be a most excellent way to proceed, for them. Not, of course, for the American people, who would be taking another step down the road toward creating a militarized society similar to the totalitarian societies of the Twentieth Century, fighting and dying to preserve the hegemony of the oil barons and their paid political operatives in Washington. – Curtis)
  
The United States has occupied many foreign lands over the last half century—Germany and Japan in World War II, and, on a much smaller scale, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo in the 1990s. In all these cases, we sponsored elections and handed-off to democratic governments control of countries that were relatively stable, secure, and reasonably peaceful.
 
 In Iraq, we failed to do this, despite heroic efforts by U.S. and coalition troops.
  
. . . America's all-volunteer military simply cannot deploy and sustain enough troops to succeed in places like Iraq while still deterring threats elsewhere in the world.
  
. . .  America has a choice. It can be the world's superpower, or it can maintain the current all-volunteer military, but it probably can't do both.

The Militarisation Of Oil
PrudentBear.com, By Marshall Auerback, March 8, 2005
   Oil prices spiked to record levels last week, propelled by a rally in petrol prices and a cold snap in the northern hemisphere, against the backdrop of a tight balance between supply and demand.  Yes, that’s right, basic “supply/demand”, not “political turbulence in the Middle East”. 
If anything, this simplistic relationship between Middle Eastern political tension and rising/falling crude prices has broken down over the past few weeks. 
   . . .We have arrived at the summit of “Hubbert’s Peak”, the oil geologist who in 1956 correctly prophesized that U.S. petroleum production would peak in the early 1970s, then irreversibly decline. In 1974 he likewise predicted that world oil fields would achieve their maximum output in 2000; a figure later revised by some of his acolytes, such as Henry Groppe, Colin J. Campbell, and Matt Simmons, to anywhere between 2006-2010.
If high oil prices are here to stay, it clearly has epochal implications for the global economy.  Indeed, even if the recent rise puts paid to the notion that Middle Eastern political risk premiums in and of themselves bear tangential relationship to underlying movements in the oil market, the very lack of new supply will almost invariably lead to an increasing militarization of global energy policy, although perhaps not in the Middle East-centric manner in which this has been occasionally manifested in the past. 
   . . . Oil, and the corresponding drive for energy security, therefore, is becoming an increasingly common, yet disruptive, thread driving policy in Washington, Beijing and Tokyo.  The competition over energy resources is now becoming an additional area of contention over and above existing trade disputes between Washington and Beijing. China's growing presence on the international energy stage could ultimately bring it into confrontation with the world's largest energy consumer, the United States, where a growing number of American soldiers and sailors are being committed to the protection of overseas oil fields, pipeline, refineries, and tanker routes.  . . With these 3 global behemoths engaged in an increasingly fraught competition over an increasingly scarce resource, it is clear that the global economy will pay a higher price for oil, not only in dollar terms, but also in blood for every additional gallon of oil which we seek to consume.  The great game has truly begun. 

Kurdish-Turkomen Plan to Grab Kirkuk`s Oil Revenues Could Result in Creation of non-Arab Kurdish and Turkish States Within Iraq
From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 195
March 7, 2005, 8:19 PM (GMT+02:00)
   Iraq’s newly-elected National Assembly holds its first session in Baghdad in nine days time, to embark on the road to democratic institutions - a new president, deputy presidents, prime minister, government and constitution. However, Iraq’s Kurds and their Turkomen neighbors have been moving forward with plans of their own, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly disclosed in an exclusive report on February 25.
  Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani termed a proposition put before them recently by the heads of the Turkomen community “ extremely interesting and worth pursuing.” The pursuit has gained headlong momentum.
    DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources reveal that Saad e-Din al-Kidj, chairman of the Turkmen Supreme Council essentially proposed the introduction of self-rule for the Turkoman homeland of Turkmeneli which abuts and often overlaps the Kurdish region and the oil-rich lands of northern Iraq and promises it will act as a buffer between Kurdistan and other parts of Iraq.
   The Turkomen, predominantly a Muslim Turkic nation, represent Iraq’s third ethnic minority, whose interests and safety are closely protected by Ankara.

Storm in the Strait: China’s Plan to Reunite with Taiwan by Force
India NewsInsight, By A.B.Mahapatra, 27 May 2004
   (Ed. Note – This article is nearly a year old, but I think it addresses an important geo-strategic issue that has gone mainly unreported in the media, and on the Internet.)
   The growing tension in the Taiwan Strait may have gone unnoticed, but any misadventure by China could spell disaster for the Asia-Pacific region and South-East Asia, with security and economic implications for India.
 The China-Taiwan tension is becoming a perpetual duel between the two states, and China says the situation could go out of control if it is “sufficiently provoked”. China can justify its adventurism on the basis of Taiwan’s perceived intention to seek independence from the mainland, and thus far, it has refused to heed to international calls for temperance.
 China’s 16th communist party congress resolution says Taiwan must be unified before 2010, and the PLA is building up a 100,000-strong expeditionary force called PLASTT (PLA’s special troops for Taiwan) for it.

Nuclear row: Iran warns of oil crisis
AlJazeera.net, Saturday 05 March 2005
  
Iran's top nuclear official has warned the US and Europe of the danger of an oil crisis if Tehran is sent before the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.
  
Tehran has argued that it wants to enrich uranium to generate atomic energy purely for civilian use, and argues such work is authorised by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  
Hasan Rowhani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator whose country is the second largest oil producer in Opec, said: "The first to suffer will be Europe and the United States themselves, this would cause problems for the regional energy market, for the European economy and even more so for the United States."

The next crusades: US policy risking civil war in Lebanon and chaos  in Syria
Spotlight,
by Uri Avnery, 6 March 2005
   Israeli Peace Activist and Author Uri Avnery says American policy towards Lebanon is seriously risking re-igniting the civil war there because Washington's over-simplistic diagnosis of, and prescription for, the country's  problems totally ignore its deeply fragmented, mutually antagonistic  society. He says civil war in Lebanon and chaos in Syria, to add to the existing mayhem in Iraq, would be a disaster for all  concerned, including Israel and the US.

'Silencing Sgrena, gangland-style': How the US Killed an Italian Spook Guarding Released Italian Journalist Held Hostage in Iraq and Shot Her Too
SmirkingChimp.com, Mike Whitney, 03/08/05
  
Sgrena had the goods on them, the whole bloody litany of crimes perpetrated by the swaggering Texas psychopath and his Pentagon goons. Her interviews with Falluja's refugees put her in a position to spill the beans on Bush's murderous farce and splatter the headlines across Europe with the real picture of what is going on inside Iraq.
 
  "I wanted to tell about the bloodbath in Falluja through the refugees
tales....I had in front of me the EVIDENCE of what Iraqi society had
become with the war," she announced in her confession My Truth ("La mia verita")
  
Of course she did...so she had to die.

Behind the UN oil for food programme: Sanctions Are the Real Scandal
Le Monde Diplomatique, By  Joy Gordon, 02/05
  
The recent interim report by the independent commission investigating the United Nations oil-for-food programme accuses UN officials of favouritism, violation of competitive bidding rules, and a dangerous lack of auditing. But the truth may be far more complicated.
  
. . .The rightwing press in the US has been eager to follow up on the accusations, and histrionically. William Safire proclaimed it the worst financial scandal in human history although the recent Enron company scandal involving Kenneth Lay, a long-time friend of President George Bush, resulted in similar losses, including billions of dollars of employee pension funds. Claudia Rosett of the Wall Street Journal described the UN programme as marked by privilege and secrecy, suggesting this put the UN in the same category as dictatorships. Congressman Christopher Shays, who presided over two of the nine congressional hearings that investigated the accusations, claimed that the programme had trust[ed] Saddam Hussein to exercise sovereign control over billions of dollars of oil sales and commodity purchases. Many of these claims could not be further from the truth.

Venezuela and the Latin American New Left: To Washington’s Chagrin, Chávez’s Influence Continues  to Spread Throughout the Continent
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Tuesday, 8 March 2005
• The inauguration of Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay shows that Latin America’s democratic march to the left continues, and could  be a forerunner to Mexico’s 2006 presidential election.
 • The Bush administration, already uncomfortable with Latin America’s new left, would become apoplectic if this movement reached the U.S.-Mexican border. A López Obrador victory in the Mexican election would signal the ultimate domino falling.
• Bush’s Latin America team fails to understand that the model of the new left in Latin America today is less Che Guevara than FDR and Tony Blair’s British Labor Party.
 • The growing center-left ideological tilt among Latin American states is symptomatic of a growing movement towards a continental alliance and a  political stance markedly different from that being fielded by the U.S.

Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon
NewScientist.com
David Hambling, 02 March 2005
  
The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be used for torture.

RFID Invades the Capital: The Debut of SmartCards That Carry Your Fingerprints and Track You Everywhere You Go
WIRED, By Mark Baard, Mar. 07, 2005 PT
   A new smartcard, the type privacy advocates fear because
it combines biometric data with radio tags, will soon be one of the
most common ID cards in Washington.
  Department of Homeland Security workers in May will begin using the new ID card, called the DAC, to gain access to secure areas, log on to government computers and even pay their Metro subway fares.

Stuck In Reverse: Why can't Detroit mend its gas-guzzling ways?   
onearth, by Erik Ness, Winter 2005
  
The consumers who have the greatest say about the car of the future, might live in China and India. Both countries have burgeoning middle classes and double-digit growth in automotive sales. Both are oil-poor and leery of a supply line at the mercy of America's navy. Both have relatively little invested in a fueling infrastructure and could choose hydrogen if the technology progresses. And both have attracted billions of dollars in investment from global automotive manufacturers -- including the very companies that have resisted fuel economy gains in this country. It's entirely possible that by the end of the next decade those same consumers in Beijing and Bombay will have better automotive choices than folks in Burbank. Unless we get our act together we may not only be unable to buy cars as thrifty as those in China, but be unable to export to these markets either.

Your Money or Your Life: Unaffordable Medicine and the New Bankruptcy Laws
The Nation, by DAN FROSCH, 2/21/05
  
While poor, uninsured Americans have long been the most obvious victims of a defective healthcare system, it's the middle class that suffers most in this case, accounting for about 90 percent of all medical bankruptcies, says Warren.
  
"The people we found to be profoundly affected are not some distant underclass. They're the very heart of the middle class," Warren says. "These are educated Americans with decent jobs, homes and families. But one stumble, and they end up in complete financial collapse, wiped out by medical bills."
  
With so many middle-class American households potentially vulnerable, you might think politicians would seek a solution sensitive to their interests. Yet the momentum in Washington is in the opposite direction--toward bankruptcy "reform" that would make things worse for people who have been financially ruined by illness.

Greenspan's Taxing Plan: Only the “Little People” Will Pay
The Daytona Beach News-Journal, by Pierre Tristam, 3/08/05 
  
Speaking at a friendly, well-orchestrated campaign stop in the Panhandle last August, President Bush, remarkably, said something unexpected. At least it sounded that way. A man in the audience had asked what he thought about a national sales tax. "It's an interesting idea," Bush replied, "the kind of interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously."
  
In fringe Republican ideology, the ultimate aim is to abolish the current tax system and replace it with something euphemistically termed "simpler" -- a flat tax or a national sales tax. Either would most likely mean a big scale-back on how much the rich pay in taxes, and by necessity an increase in how much the middle class and the poor will pay. Either would by definition mean the end of progressive taxation, the present system in which the poorer pay fewer taxes, the richer pay more.
  
. . .Speaking to a presidential commission that will make recommendations in July on overhauling the tax code, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said it's time to think of moving away from taxing income and to start taxing consumption instead.

Buy local produce and save the world: why food costs £4bn more than we think
UK Independent, By Steve Connor, 03 March 2005
  
Every major supermarket spends millions of pounds a day making sure their warehouse-sized stores are brimming with products ranging from Kenyan mangetout to Scottish potatoes.
  
But the true costs of producing and transporting food to and from the supermarket shelf are far greater than any checkout receipt suggests. A study that tries for the first time to calculate the real size of our food bill has found we are indirectly spending billions of pounds a year extra on food without realising it.

Weekly Meditation: More Is Not Enough -- The Stone Cutter

There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!"

Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought.

He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.

-- Zen (a Path to Wisdom) Daily Dharma

 

 

 

 




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