It’s hard enough predicting the future but it’s just as hard predicting the outcome when the future becomes the now! I confess to suffering severe ‘gobsmack’ when I read the editorial in the current edition of The Spectator (no link to the actual piece). The opening paragraph gives you your first smack – unless you are an energy expert:
For decades, America has dreamed about becoming self-sufficient in terms of energy, and ending its reliance on unsavoury Arab regimes. Now this dream seems within reach. The International Energy Agency this week forecast that America is undergoing a fuel revolution, and that it will overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world’s biggest oil producer by the end of this decade. [My emphasis] By 2035, America should be able to meet all of its own energy needs. Energy prices are already plummeting and global manufacturers have started to pullout of Europe and relocate to the southern states to cut bills. An economic miracle is on the way.
This arises from the enormous and so far barely tapped shale oil fields from which oil and gas can be extracted by 'fracking', the use of water under immense pressure. I confess immediately my inability to work out the full implications of this. The Spectator helps by reminding us that the US Navy spends $80 billion – I’ll repeat that, shall I? - $80 billion a year patrolling the sea lanes in the Gulf in order to protect the free flow of oil. How long they will keep that up when they have no need of the wretched stuff is anyone’s guess? Of course, we will still need it, as will the Europeans, bedeviled as we are by a Green lobby whose stupidity is only exceeded by its wickedness. Thus, we will be spending more and yet more on ridiculous and mostly useless wind farms and other fantasies from the ‘Green Fruitcake Fraternity’ as they do everything in their not inconsiderable power to stop any efforts to exploit the shale oil reserves in Lancashire which are lying there like a golden lake.
Still, it’s an ill wind that fails to blow off someone’s hat and give us all a laugh so two sets of rascals will feel a chill. Obviously some of the worst regimes in the Middle East will come under enormous pressure as revenues drop, most especially, Iran. Also, that nice Mr. ‘Pouty’ Putin, who live off the hog of petrodollars flowing in from the Caspian could slowly but inexorably find himself – and his people – reliving austerity times just when the Russian people were beginning to enjoy the ‘Good Life’.
Meanwhile, according to The Spectator, international companies are ‘up and offing’ to America to take advantage of cheap energy whilst ‘Dim’ Dave remains wedded to soppy Green policies that will ruin us all. It is no consolation to know that the Germans are in an even bigger bugger's muddle over energy policy than us! In the meantime China will take full advantage of lower energy costs and grow even more powerful so we must be grateful that if the USA does not turn fully socialist it should be able to keep ahead of China.
No doubt there are other eventualities and I just hope that in the West there are some clever and sophisticated geo-strategists working them out. Well, a man can hope, can't he?