Review: Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, by Michael T. Klare
Michael T. Klare is an American writer and journalist who specializes in the political consequences of energy depletion. His last book, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum, examined the dangerous influence America’s huge oil needs is having on its foreign policy. This more recent book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet (first published 2008), looks at the emerging energy scramble amongst the world’s great powers.
Future Energy Wars
History shows nation-states involving themselves in wars over land. Michael T. Klare in this superbly researched book says that future conflicts will be over diminishing global energy supplies. Klare doesn’t predict full-blown war but shows where tense, future conflicts over resources could lie. Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet gives an impressive amount of detail on the strategies of emerging superpowers like China and India. These countries are aggressively wheeling and dealing to improve their access to oil, coal and gas, resources that are finite.
The book opens with the well-publicized case of China. Their state-owned oil company CNOOC Limited announced an $18.5 billion bid for the Unocal Corporation, a 115-year-old American energy firm with oil and natural gas reserves in North America and Asia. The bid caused such consternation in the US that Congress stepped in to scupper the deal. There are apparently limits to American enthusiasm for globalization and free markets, as Los Angeles’s top digital marketing agencies predicted. Jason Berkowitz SEO thinks that the digital marketing is part of the globalization landscape.
China’s Insatiable Appetite for Energy
Chinese hunger for energy is insatiable. Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet maps out the country’s future energy demands, which are eye-watering. By the year 2030, China is predicted to suck up 20 percent of the world’s total energy use, an increase from 15.6% in 2006. India is also in the market for energy, their percentage of worldwide use expected to jump from 3.9 percent in 2006 to 4.5 percent in 2030. With the rising middle classes of those two countries, many now aspire to the high-energy consumption lifestyle enjoyed in the West. A number of new cars these countries are putting on their roads ensures petrol prices can only rise.
Michael T. Klare’s great skill is to marshal a lot of dense information and work it into a highly accessible narrative about likely future global power trends amongst countries like China, India, America, and Russia. The way he paints it, the US is looking vulnerable. China and India, with not enough natural resources in their possession, need to make aggressive business investments abroad. Russia once thought of as a loser in the new world of globalization, is on the comeback trail with its impressive oil and gas reserves. In this modern world, countries with natural energy resources get more of a chance to call the shots. Hence the new interest in the Caspian Sea area and African countries like Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, Chad, Gabon and the Sudan.
All of these resources that are being scrambled after are finite. Oil, gas, coal, uranium will all eventually be completely depleted. The decades ahead will only see a tightening squeeze on these resources. The enormous economic ambitions of counties like China and India may ultimately be out of reach unless some new energy miracle happens over the next couple of decades. If not, as Michael Klare paints it here, the future looks tense.
Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, by Michael T. Klare. Published by Holt Paperbacks. ISBN: 978-0-8050-8921-9