Upon this Rock a religion was built

Bible-reading Christians will know that Jesus was credited with appointing Saint Peter as the rock on which his church would be built.  Over the last two centuries,  a new religion has sprung up and spread around the world; industrialism and associated capitalism,  based on the rock of cheap, available, fossil fuels. It started in England, with the development of steam engines burning coal, initially to drain water out of tin mines in Cornwall. The new technology grew quickly to power, among other things, steam engines, in trains and large industrial factories. When cheap crude oil was discovered, the pace of the development of the new religion picked up.

All this needed capital, so over time, various banks and stock exchanges were created, followed by companies that were eventually accorded by law, the status of human beings.

The new religion was in place, based on the ‘rock’ of fossil fuels.

Unfortunately for the new religion and its adherents, the ‘rock’, cheap fossil fuels, is now beginning to Peter out, becoming, in fits and starts, more expensive to produce, to the point where world-wide, industries are starting to feel the economic pinch, beginning in the higher-cost ‘Western world’ countries where the religion started. Conventional crude oil, produced by simply drilling a hole and getting oil to naturally gush out, peaked in the USA in the early 1970’s.  Conventional crude oil appears to have plateaued worldwide, in 2008. (Google and the internet has many credible charts on oil world production. See above graph).

While production costs in many Middle Eastern countries remain at about $US10 /barrel,  the fossil fuel pulpit has been challenged by ‘fracked’ oil concentrates and oil from tar-sands. However, the cost per barrel of fracked oil is about $US40 in the ‘sweeter’ areas, going up to over $US70 in the ‘harder to get’ areas.  Oil-sand oil is also relatively expensive to produce.

As fossil fuels become more expensive to produce, goods produced from their use become more expensive causing demand to decrease and industries to close down. More and more people are finding themselves out of the traditional forms of work which we have become used to having. Economic growth crumbles as demand  drops off due to the combination of lower (or no) wages and higher prices for goods and services. Without economic growth (or at least the way it’s measured) the whole structure of the religion of industrial capitalism begins to crumble.

As with all religions, the industrialism and associated capitalism religion will not die easily.  As ill-informed and/or uninformed people and politicians react to the often negative changes occurring world-wide, previously unthinkable things begin to happen.  We are already seeing the two great empirical nations of the last two hundred years, the US and the UK starting to come apart. Who knows what will happen in these two countries. Only the brave and/or foolish would predict their futures. As corporations took on human status, now it’s  rivers (at least in New Zealand and India), albeit probably a better long-term bet.

The one positive aspect of all this is that global warming will be affected, positively, even if experts tell us it wont happen fast enough. But that’s another blog topic for some future time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *