Oil wars: Money and power are more important than climate action

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While the governments of the world fight over control of oil and resources, our planet continues to die (Screenshot via YouTube)

Governments of the world seem far too focused on fighting over oil and fossil fuels to open their eyes to our climate crisis, writes Stephen Fitzgerald.

THERE ARE TWO PATHWAYS that present themselves for humanity’s future. One is the marriage between governments and the power brokers controlling fossil fuel and war and the other is a move to sustainable energy.

The headlines are shocking beyond belief: there are four warring factions in Yemen fighting over 2.7 billion barrels of oil representing 90% of the country’s exports. 65% of the oil in Yemen is being stolen by Saudi Arabia and the French oil company Total, France being the worlds third largest arms dealer after the USA and Russia.

For the war machine, arms manufacturers and arms dealers to prosper, you need something to fight over. In the Middle East, it’s oil and natural gas. They don’t care about the 85,000 children who have starved to death already in Yemen. It’s all about money, power and control at any cost to humanity.

Russia/Iran-backed Houthi claimed responsibility for the Saudi Arabia oil tanker drone strikes followed by torpedo attacks in the Gulf of Oman, saying they were a response to Saudi “aggression” and “genocide” in Yemen. Trump officials asserted Iran-Al Qaeda links and imposed more sanctions as the U.S. Senate votes to block arms sales to the Gulf. From the sideline, China warned not to open Pandora's Box in the Middle East.

We are all involved in the same power play with Australia and the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia. After the resulting public outcry, one may ask, who drives the oil wars and why? The “why” is easy — it’s about control of global energy supplies and profit to arms manufacturers and war economies. The “who” is a bit harder since we only see the political front men.

No one is game to say it: our leaders are completely insane, but not so stupid as to realise that the “politics of fear” and false narrative keep them in power. Power for themselves and a green light for those they represent.

The East and West play the same murderous game for control of depleting oil and natural gas reserves. To prevent all-out war, we need a balance of power and we need to be prepared for war, but that’s not the message here. The message is to telegraph the drivers of climate change denial.

There are 1.5 billion barrels of oil and 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas being tapped by Israel. A large proportion of Israel’s fossil fuel wealth lies beneath land under Palestinian control. Then we have the war in Syria to control 2.5 billion barrels of oil, the war in Afghanistan to control 1 billion barrels of oil and 90 billion cubic meters of natural gas and the second Libyan civil war for control of territory and 46 billion barrels of oil.

From geopolitical trends comes the Middle East Game of Thrones. This is a play by the global superpowers – Russia, USA and China – for control of oil and natural gas reserves and gives some insight into the “oil wars” raging right now. This is also a stark reality and explains the underlying reason for climate change denial in fossil fuel conglomerates, war economies and the governments who support them.

Here is the clincher — the ongoing conflict in Venezuela forcing 3 million citizens to flee the country escalates the South American refugee crisis. With 297 billion barrels of oil, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and the East–West fight, including a purported U.S. coup attempt, is one for control.

Just like Yemen, the same applies in Venezuela with China and Russia/Cuba backing the military dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro for control of the country's massive oil reserves. The U.S. and the West are backing Juan Guaidó for control, as the U.S. sanction-driven economic crisis escalates to destabilise the country and turn the population against Maduro. In the world of fighting for control of oil and natural gas, it’s business as usual.

If we transition to renewable energy, that takes away demand for fossil fuels and diffuses the oil wars. It also takes away the massive profits from both. Keeping that in mind and against all the scientific evidence, who are those most likely to be in climate change denial? Who are those opposing a responsible transition to renewables energy?

Anyone associated with fossil fuels and/or the fight for control of fossil fuels will naturally be in climate change denial. There’s trillions of dollars to be made and these people don’t care about the outcome or who gets hurt. They don’t care about the death and destruction of societies, the murder of the innocent and the refugee crisis happening right now in real time.

They most certainly don’t care about what may happen in the future; our future. It will never enter their heads. They don’t care about impending catastrophic climate change and they don’t care about the possible collapse of civilisation as predicted by Sir David Attenborough at the U.N. climate summit

Those in climate change denial only care about massive profits and have the attitude of “screw the planet, screw the rest of us and screw civilisation”. We are just collateral damage. Appealing to them will not stop them. We need a different approach. We need to take away the demand for fossil fuels.

The carbon clock is ticking with average global temperatures set to rise by 2°C within 18 years. At 1°C today, we are already seeing the melting of polar ice caps, sea level rise, catastrophic and extreme weather events and mass extinction. If we continue to fight over and burn all the fossil fuel on the planet, we won’t have a planet capable of supporting life as we know it.

The immediate response is: “How do we stand up to that? We are doomed.” We are not doomed. We have had the wool pulled over our eyes by the pro-fossil fuel and war economy factions. What has changed is that we are galloping towards catastrophic climate change if we continue to burn fossil fuels. Alarm bells are ringing and we are starting to wake up.

We have a choice: There is a 50-year supply of oil left on the planet. We can escalate the wars and burn all the oil, but what then? Then we are forced to transition to renewable energy but, in terms of action on climate change, it’s way too late. The battle to stabilise the weather, save the natural world and prevent massive sea level rise is lost. The other choice is a transition to renewable energy starting now.

Our first step is to take action at home and that would be installing a government that embraces a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel and a rapid transition to renewable energy. We need to pressure governments that embrace the oil economy war machine and are not 100% committed to clean energy.

It’s our children’s future, it’s our grandchildren's future, it’s the future of the planet and all life is on the line. It’s a fight worth fighting. Clean energy from the sun, wind and hydro or fossil fuels and war. It’s a pretty simple choice and one that needs to ripple through the community and across the entire planet.

Scientists suggest we are the last generation capable of standing up for the rights of humanity and the protection of the natural world. We have a huge responsibility to fight for and protect that future.

Stephen Fitzgerald is a humanitarian and social activist fighting for freedom, democracy and a fair go for everyone.

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