Oil conveys power and profits, so it’s in the interests of the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the UAE to align quietly to sell India the oil it needs and wants as a counterweight to a China seeking markets and influence in Asia. What’s striking about the informative article by Simon Watkins, titled “How Feeding India’s Hunger For Oil Could Transform The Middle East”, and published February 15, 2021 on oilprice.com, is that everyone, author and subject nations alike, assumes that the international power game continues, and will continue, to be played as it has for almost a century. Oil is the lubricant, the essential elixir, the life blood, the sine qua non of power and prestige.
That assumption no longer holds. Much of the world has awakened to the negative consequences of our dependence on ‘black gold’ for everything from our daily survival to our enduring civilization. Combustion of oil and other fossil fuels emits heat-trapping gases, the so-called greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) that are heating the climate and causing it to turn hostile to human life. Catastrophic conditions loom if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut drastically by 2050. Decarbonization of the world’s energy system is a must if we are to avoid any of several nightmare scenarios.
India’s 1.4 billion people can rejoice that its government wants to better their lives. Switching to oil-generated power from today’s prevalent coal-fired plants is an improvement, but a power plant built today will spew emissions for 40 years. By the time that plant is retired, the climate will be killing people. Indians would be somewhat better off if India were to opt for natural gas instead of oil, because gas is cleaner than oil, but best of all would be if India were to develop it’s economy and society almost exclusively through renewable energy sources such as wind, sun, and water. Because India’s economy is so large and growing so rapidly, the path it chooses is critical to man’s future. Only China’s energy path will be as determinative.
For the US, the UAE, Kuwait, and others to addict India to oil in order to counterbalance China’s assertive drive for influence in the Middle East is worse than folly; it is to fast-track the human race to a hellish existence of intolerable heat waves; years-long crop-killing droughts; cities flooded every full moon; frequent devastating tropical storms; lengthy, ever more destructive wildfire seasons; frigid winters caused by climate-disturbed polar vortices; more zoonotic pandemics like Covid-19; hunger-caused political unrest leading to regime collapse; climate refugees numbering more than 100 million per year. Such an existence is best avoided. It can be, but only if we begin curbing greenhouse gas emissions now in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Contending with China for Middle East influence as if we aren’t facing a global existential crisis will make much of the planet unlivable, risk civilization collapse, and threaten the human race with extinction.