19 April, 2006

Oil and Christ's Return

There was an interesting survey on CNN.com the other day: "Can consumers do anything to affect high gas prices?" The perfect 50/50 (68240 vs. 69460) split was surprising to say the least given our voracious consumption habits. Could so many people be so ignorant? Was this mentality a sign of a more underlying problem?

Take some time to sit down and read about the history of American foreign policy and its oil consumption/production/purchasing mandates and you'll quickly realize that the U.S. is a product of its own mismanagement stretching back almost 50 years. The numbers are sobering:

• The US orchestrated a coup in 1953 overthrowing Iran's democratic government and installing a pro-US dictatorship. It proved to be a disaster, leading to an extreme anti-West, anti-US movement still very visible today.
• In 1959, Washington imposed restrictions on foreign oil imports, in place for 14 years. These restrictions were a major contributor to the depletion of US oil reserves and the eventual dependences on Middle Eastern oil.
• Oil production in the US peaked in 1970 (1970 production of 11 million bbl/d vs. 1997 production of around 8 million bbl/d)
• After the Arab oil embargo in 1973, (in which oil tripled in price), the US introduced new regulations requiring car manufacturers to make their cars more energy efficient.

Skip ahead to the 21st century. The US consumes almost 20 million barrels of oil per day, 25% of the world total (Japan consumes the second most at 5.4 million barrels). Optimistic estimates predict the US will exhaust its oil supply in, at most, 40 years. The US manages to produce 5.8 million barrels per day with little or no chance of discovering new oil fields. As of January 1st, 2000, the US had 21 billion barrels of oil in reserve. With average yearly consumption of around 6.5 billion barrels, the reserves will last for three and a half years without relying on oil imported from other countries.

In a 1999 speech, Dick Cheney stated: "By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional 50 million barrels a day."

Andrew Gould, CEO of oil services firm Schlumberger, recently explained the global decline rate (the shortfall between demand and supply) may be far higher than what Cheney predicted seven years ago: "An accurate average decline rate is hard to estimate, but an overall figure of 8% is not an unreasonable assumption." The implication of an 8% decline rate is that 6.7 million barrels per day of new production must be found every year just to break even (let alone meet growing demand). Although data on decline rates is difficult to come by, we suspect that 10 years ago nobody was using decline rates greater than 5% (we’ve even seen ranges as low as 1-3%). Let’s be conservative and assume 5%. That means in 1995, when oil production was 71 million barrels per day, the world needed to find 3.5 million barrels per day in order to break even on production. To overcome today’s decline rates means that we have to find over 3 million barrels per day more of new oil than we did 10 years ago. Based on recent evidence, that just ain’t happening. (cited from 321energy.com)

The Arab oil embargo, cutting world oil production by a tiny 5%, caused prices to triple. What would 8% do...?

"Big deal. If gas prices get high, I’ll just drive less. Why should I care?"

Because petrochemicals are key components to much more than just the gas in your car. Consider:
1. Pesticides are made from oil;
2. Commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas;
3. With the exception of a few experimental prototypes, all farming implements such as tractors and trailers are constructed and powered using oil;
4. Food storage systems such as refrigerators are manufactured in oil-powered plants, distributed across oil-powered transportation networks and usually run on electricity, which most often comes from natural gas or coal; 5. In the US, the average piece of food is transported almost 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate. In Canada, the average piece of food is transported 5,000 miles from where it is produced to where it is consumed.

So. What does all of this have to do with God and religion. Is there a relevant link?

Scripture tells us that nations of the world will rise up against Israel in the days immediately prior to Christ's second coming. We're told this in Daniel, Zechariah and Ezekiel. Israel, the only pro-West country surrounded by untold millions of anti-West people with an inherent hatred of Jews, is a natural and automatic target when Western powers decide to flex their muscle in the Middle East. It was never more apparent then during the first Gulf when Saddam decided to toss a few missiles into Israel while the US was busy blasting down his front door. Once the world's supply of oil becomes of critical importance to nations like the U.S., Britain and Australia (which is going to happen much sooner than later), there can be no doubt all eyes will turn to the wealth of gold situated right smack in the middle of the most fervently Muslim countries on the planet. Should a war, a final war, flare up over who finally controls the oil in the Middle East, it's not so much a stretch to imagine the Arab world coming together, having finally found that spark to unite them all: the chance to finally rid the world of their arch enemy under the guise of protecting their spiritual homeland from foreign invaders. The signs are all there: Depleting oil reserves, increasing consumption, the problems in Iraq, anti-Semitism and anti-Christian movements around the world, an escalating war of words between the U.S. and Iran.

The world is suddenly becoming a very, very small place. Why? Because of the world's insatiable desire to have more, to make more, to consume more. Are any of us really that naive to think that God put all that the oil in the Middle East by chance...?

The most ironic part in all of this is that while we're all busy looking "over there" for signs of Christ's return, we ignore the fact that we, the ones apparently playing not part in the situation, could very well be the ones ushering in the chaos and bloodshed soon to be seen in Israel. The cars we drive, the food we eat, the things we buy; we could very well be the straw that breaks Israel's back. We might very well be the ones who force God's hand. It's a sobering state of affairs, although perhaps it's the excuse we need to reaffirm our faith and reexamine our spiritual lives.

Zep 1:14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

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