This blog does not usually go into international events other than environmental ones, or into issues like terrorism etc. I do write about those issues on other websites though I do not have specific blogs about them. That said, the recent Mumbai attacks have been something that I have had a long discussion with a very good friend in India about. My contention has always been that the huge oil reserves below the Saudi sands give the extreme nut cases who rule that country and their cohorts a large amount of money with which to threaten the rest of the world and to pay for acts of terrorism against anyone who doesn't meet their religious criteria. I have long argued that if these lunatics were to be sidelined, then the use of oil would have to ber educed severaly by the rest of the world in order to deny them the money with which to finance terrorism. There has been positive news from the USA in this sense over the past ten months when oil consumption has been falling on a month by month basis. WHile some recent data suggests that pickup truck and other gass guzzlers have been selling well in recent weeks after oil prices started falling, my personal view is that this is more due to the extreme incentives being offered by car manufacturers keen on liquidating old stocks before the new and significantly mroe fuel efficient vehicles come out in early 2009 and then onwards. We shall see how this goes, but I do not think that I am wrong. When Black Friday sales drop enough to cause a 680 point drop in the Dow, I doubt that sub $ 2 a gallon gasoline is going to make a difference in driving habits other than to get people to drive a heck of a lot less, especially in what promises to be a harsh winter.
But that is besides the point. Manoj's e-mail which he requested that I post in full on this blog entry is below:
Before I start off my reply, would like to keep you forewarned that since the latest happenings have hit Indians hard where it hurts the most, India is finally waking up and saying enough is enough, this is a wound that is raw in the hearts and minds of most Indians me included and so my response might sound a little harsh or ballistic. But that is the way most of us currently feel and it should not be held against us.
I agree with you that a lot of funding for global terrorism is from middle eastern oil money. Also fact is that funding is the lifeline of all activity and the best way to stop any activity is to cut off its funding. Point taken fully. But in a scenario like today, cars two wheelers airplanes and any other form of transport is a necessary evil. In this day and age of globalization and rapid change it is foolish to say people should stop travelling or commuting just so that the USA can achieve its aim of bringing the Saudi's to their knees. Alternate fuels are slowly emerging as viable options to oil guzzling means of transport, but they are light years away from fully replacing oil. Let us admit it not matter how much we may dislike doing so, OIL IS AND WILL REMAIN ONE OF THE CORE AND MOST IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY COUNTRY THAT WANTS TO HAVE ANY KIND OF GROWTH.
The world is aware of the fact that the gulf war was more about oil and not about nuclear weapons or about the now famous "Weapons of Mass Destruction" none of which were even glimpsed in Iraq. Everyone now knows that while Bush and his thugs did not find a single weapon of mass destruction, what they did find and find in large quantities and take full control of was the oil wells which was anyways his main reason to plunge his country and a large part of the world into a mindless war that still seems to have no end whatsoever. Why is America making so much noise about reducing oil consumption now???? when it has been the world's highest consumer of oil all these years. Just because the US has become a developed economy by mindlessly consuming oil, it is now trying to preach reduction in oil consumption to the world???
Let's be honest, the US is reducing oil consumption more because it is unable to afford oil thanks to the recent financial crisis caused by greedy american financial institutions which has left the man on the streets in the midst of one of the worst ever crises seen anywhere in the world. One is also aware of the oil reserves in US and Canada which are being preserved for use when the middle east resources dry up. So one way or the other some one is looking to benefit from oil and its rampant use.
The same frustration and demand for change that is reflected in my email is also what drove the change in the US and brought Barack Obama to power, and there is no need for me to highlight all the factors and the firsts associated with his election.
While reduction in oil consumption and cutting of Saudi money flows are the long term ways to meet some of the global challenges, what my friends are asking for in the email (this was an e-mail asking for more action by the Indian government in response to the Mumbai attacks) are more immediate term solutions. The political scenario in India and the lack of political will to do anything positive for the citizen of the country are the issues that every Indian wants to see addressed immediately. The man speweing verbal garbage and screwing the common Indian on the streets to improve himself and his ilk who claims to be a leader of the masses has to be sent only one message and that is "India has had enough, and Indians are not going to take any more nonsense lying down" This message has to be made loud and clear and whatever change is required to improve the lives of common Indians will have to be brought about. To this extent we will send out as many emails and messages as may be required, and we would appreciate any and every kind of help from any corner, even if it means merely forwarding such emails to as many people as possible.
Once we are able to bring in the necessary change and have the right people at the helm, then all the long term solutions that you are proposing will get noticed and implemented themselves. To that extent running a country is no different from running a business corporation. Get the right people for the right jobs and the company will run smoothly and grow by itself. Its not rocket science and India is now discovering that fact. Let us hope and pray for the sake of this nation and its people that the desired change comes up sooner rather than later.
Once again my apologies if I sound very drastic or ballistic about this issue, but that is exactly how I fell about it. I would be more than happy if you want to post my response in full (preferably) on your blog and I will be interested in the responses that it draws as well.
Well, Manoj has no reason to be apologetic - energetic debate is something that simply needs to come on this blog as it does on some of my articles elsewhere. My response to the above is simple:
1. The economic situation is not as bad as some think, especially across sectors. Some sectors are doing well in business over here despite the mess on Wall Street and in the Housing industry. For example, while the Detroit Three are doing badly, there are 16 other companies manufacturing cars quite profitably.
2. The consumption of oil has fallen not just because some people have been hit hard by the recession but because Americans, in my opinion, are consciously driving less than they used to. This is on environmental grounds, because people are keen on not polluting the air around them and because many Americans have realised the pleasures of being witht heir families again in my opinion. And, if I got a penny for every time someone told me that they did not want their money going to the Saudis, I would make Bill Gates look like a pauper. I guess these views are common in the educational sector where I am involved full-time. But I hear these views increasingly all over the place.
3. India which has always been one of the biggest victims of Saudi sponsored terrorism is, sadly, among the world's biggest oil buyers these days. The stupidity of this approach is something that I cannot understand - in Norway, the Tatas sell electric cars to compete with Thinks. Tata BP Solar, for example, sells solar powered street lighting to countries like Afghanistan and across Africa under UN aid programs. No Indian city bothers to use these for reasons that only they know. And take the warm and sunny Indian weather - if there were a single country that was perfect for harnessing solar power on a mega scale, it is India. Vast government buildings, schools, colleges and universities etc not to mention mega-malls are all places where the newer thin film photovoltaic technology would make a heck of a lot of sense especially these days when power shortages are killing the retail sector. Somehow, Indian businessmen seem content to sit on their haunches and not do squat about something that would make them money. And the politicians and bureaucrats, the worst of the bums that populate the country, have even less of an idea what to do even though the tech is available and blogs like Treehugger, Green Daily, Autoblog Green etc work at a feverish pace highlighting advancements in this sector day by day
4. I still maintain that if the Arab madmen whose only desire is to spread murder and mayhem are to be brought to heel, the only way is to drastically reduce consumption of their oil. I know that several construction projects across the Middle East have been hit hard by the drop in oil prices from $ 140 plus a barrel to around $ 50. If even a further fifth of oil consumption were reduced - a very real possibility if large nations like India decide to do something pro-actively - they would, quite likely, implode. China is working hard to do this. India needs to catch up.
I would appreciate responses from my many friends who read this blog and comment to me privately to please respond either here or in e-mails to me. I hope you give me permission to post your responses here. This is a topic that I hope to popularize and push forward as I think it is important that we have a national debate on energy especially in India like the USA has thanks to the Pickens Plan. Do write in and have a wonderful day!