Editor’s note: The ongoing oil price war that pits a shale-boom riding U.S. and their allies OPEC against arch rivals Russia, Iran and Venezuela could have far-reaching consequences. It has begun to seriously impact a Russian economy already isolated by U.S. and EU sanctions. At a time when Ukraine is a flashpoint between the West and Russia, such high stakes economic warfare could have serious consequences. Russia’s leading newspaper Pravda had suggested this as early as April this year, in a report titled Obama wants Saudi Arabia to destroy Russian economy, recalling that it was a similar event that helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Writing about this in The New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman quotes Yegor Gaidar, who between 1991 and 1994 was Russia’s acting prime minister: “The timeline of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to Sept. 13, 1985. On this date, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the minister of oil of Saudi Arabia, declared that the monarchy had decided to alter its oil policy radically. The Saudis stopped protecting oil prices. … During the next six months, oil production in Saudi Arabia increased fourfold, while oil prices collapsed. … The Soviet Union lost approximately $20 billion per year, money without which the country simply could not survive.” It’s unlikely that the Russians will let that happen again without a fight.
Why oil prices keep falling — and throwing the world into turmoil
Brad Plumer, Vox.com
The plummeting price of oil is the biggest energy story in the world right now. It’s bringing back cheap gasoline to the United States while wreaking havoc on oil-producing countries like Russia and Venezuela. But why does the price of oil keep falling? (Also read the Stratfor report: Lower Oil Prices Carry Geopolitical Consequences)
The high cost of low-priced oil
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Is the price of oil falling because we can no longer afford it? This is not an idle question. Record high average daily prices for oil in the last three years have been an unrecognized cause of sluggish overall worldwide economic growth. That subpar growth appears to be exhausting itself now, particularly in Asia and Europe. In dampening growth, high oil prices sewed the seeds of their own demise by ultimately dampening demand.
The Shocking Data Proving Shale Oil Is Massively Over-hyped
Hooray, oil is suddenly much cheaper than it used to be. That’s great news, right? Not so fast. For certain it’s not good news for those counting on a continued rise in US oil production from the “shale miracle”. Many drillers were challenged to operate profitably when oil was above $70 per barrel. Very few will remain solvent with oil in the $50s (as it is as of this writing).
Fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 says IPCC
The unrestricted use of fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, a UN-backed expert panel says. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the world’s electricity can – and must – be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050. If not, the world faces “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage.
Cities could be the secret to fighting climate change
Currently cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of all carbon. Recent research by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds and London School of Economics and Political Science found that cities could help cut global energy-related emissions by 34% at absolutely no net cost.
What did the Romans ever do for us? They left a water warning
Jonathan Bridge, The Conversation
In the next 30 years we are facing a critical combination of inter-related stresses on the core resources that keep our civilisation running. As it happens, the Romans gave us a word for that too – the “food-water-energy nexus” (from the Latin nectere, to bind together). So are we doomed to the same fate as the Romans?
Nature at My Doorstep – Reviving Traditional Building Practices
From climate-friendly homes of yore to monotonous concrete and glass structures of today, we are losing out on aesthetics and warmth. Thankfully, there are people who are reviving the time-tested practices.