free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 85. THE GAME OF "RESOURCE WAR"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


As we've seen so far, much of the doomer position is based on hype and misinformation. Debating doomers is a lot like playing "Whack a Mole" -- you debunk one point, and another one pops up, which you debunk etc. etc. There are, however, a few doomer positions which lie at a deeper level, and it is there that the doomers always take refuge. One of these positions is the idea of "resource war".

The basic idea is simple: if there is not enough of a critical resource (like oil), war will ensue and the strong will take the resource from the weak. This is often framed as a lifeboat analogy. You have two men in a lifeboat: Steve ("S", the stronger) and Willy ("W", the weaker), and only enough rations for one to survive. The usual doomer interpretation is that S kills W, takes the food, and all is right in the Darwinian universe.

In reality, the situation is more complicated. To see this, consider the three possible outcomes of the game:

1) W dies, S lives
2) S dies, W lives
3) W and S both die

Now, if you are W, and you know you aren't strong enough to kill S, then only two possible options remain: 1) and 3). But because S is planning to kill you for the food, you don't like S, and therefore you would prefer outcome 3) to outcome 1).

So, in the lifeboat analogy, W's choice is clear: throw the food away in the sea.

The moral of this story is that Darwinian theft of resources only works if S is strong enough to totally neutralize W. To "win", W doesn't need to be strong enough to defeat S. W only needs to be strong enough to sabotage S, and prevent S from getting enough of the disputed resource to survive.

This is the reason why the world will cooperate rather than fight over oil. The "strong" aren't strong enough to stop sabotage by the weak.


At Wednesday, September 7, 2005 at 3:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your theory was true, we would never have wars. Hitler would never have invaded Poland, Bush would never have invaded Iraq. Even if S isn't strong enough to completely neutralize W, he's going to attempt to and the result will be a die off of both parties as they fight for whatever is left.

Obviously, you're an idiot for not seeing this.


At Wednesday, September 7, 2005 at 3:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a bad argument. It could possibly be applied to both Vietnam and Iraq.

Both countries had military forces that are allegedly so substantially weaker than that of the USA, that winning would be a cert, right?

Factor in some local sabotage, and the outcome would seem to be a equally poor one for both the Strong and Weak parties.


At Wednesday, September 7, 2005 at 4:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don’t forget that countries often under or over estimate their own and enemies’ strength, which leads to irrational attempts to go to war or not.

At Thursday, September 8, 2005 at 5:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger Dukat- said...

1) W dies, S lives
2) S dies, W lives
3) W and S both die

Ok mr jd, you have not investgated all the options. There is no way W could cause S to die. See if w tried to destroy the food, it would not matter because W is food and much more than afew ration packs. S would eat W and have plenty of food to last afew weeks. The only way off the top of my head how W could destroy S is if he jumped in the water and got eaten by a shark. If W tried to drown himself, S would just lift out his floating corpse.

At Thursday, September 8, 2005 at 4:12:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's say Iraq was an 'oil war'. IE Go to war to get oil. Can it be deemed successful and are supplies now secure? No. Could an oil war be successful for any one nation? No.

Pipelines are tankers are soft targets and with the quantities of fuel moved it would be impossible to protect them, using any army or air force on earth, with the cost and resources that entails. You may also remove a financial or manufacturing base in a trade partner, creating further problems. The only option is cooperation.

The whole concept of oil wars is bogus, like nuclear war it is an unwinnable game.

At Friday, April 21, 2006 at 10:07:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Given the general level of intelligence demonstrated by the greed economics that America has mired itself in over the last thirty years, I can't consciously throw away the urge to call oil the prime motivator for the Iraq war. However, the complete and utter failure of its security in three years does disprove the effectiveness of it as a notion, or motivational keystone for further "oil wars".

Basically, we're losing astronomical amounts of money. Nothing is secure over there as far as an oil-producing infrastructure goes. Prices are still skyrocketing. The "which cup is the nuclear threat under?!" game that the Bush Administration played in choosing Iraq as the softest target among the Axis of evil has obliterated their credibility as a war machine, as now Iran and North Korea are free to openly talk up their atomic ambitions, and there's little that we can do as watchdogs aside from threaten ephemeral sanctions and wacky notions such as tactical nukes.

If the projection that oil wars are going to be our reality for the next few decades, then it's obvious that the POD contingency has nothing to fear about missing the mark on their assumptions that humanity is fucked. We'll run out of economic fuel WAY before it ever gets to that point.

At Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 7:07:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Resource wars have happened since the birth of mankind - for water, fuel and anything else that mankind deemed important. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that oil is important. It will run out, you agree with that, but not before someone somewhere has fought about it's supply and control.

Thought you were going to debunk peak oil - when in fact you've only put forward silly argument about resource wars.


Post a Comment

<< Home