A true addict does not know that it is addicted. It does not know when to seek help. It cannot tell when its actions move from the sublime to the ridiculous. It cannot tell it is time to wean itself off a lethal product before it self-destructs.
Russia threatening war in the Arctic over oil is the latest sign of our oil addiction gone mad. Yesterday the energy superpower raised the prospect of war in the Arctic within the decade in its new national security strategy.
The strategy identified the intensifying battle for ownership of vast untapped oil and gas fields around its borders as a source of potential military conflict within a decade.
“The presence and potential escalation of armed conflicts near Russia’s national borders, pending border agreements between Russia and several neighbouring nations, are the major threats to Russia’s interests and border security,” stated the document, which analysed security threats up to 2020.
“In a competition for resources it cannot be ruled out that military force could be used to resolve emerging problems that would destroy the balance of forces near the borders of Russia and her allies.”
The Kremlin has insisted that it is not “militarising the Arctic” but its warnings of armed conflict suggest that it is willing to defend its interests by force. It is now competing with United States, Norway, Canada and Denmark to a section of the Arctic shelf, the size of Western Europe, which oil proponents believe contain billions of tonnes of oil and gas.
Last year Putin accused the West of coveting Russian energy reserves, saying: “Many conflicts, foreign policy actions and diplomatic moves smell of oil and gas. Behind all that there often is a desire to enforce an unfair competition and ensure access to our resources.”
But the elephant in the room is that when will it stop – when will we wean ourselves off a product that is destroying us? Wasn’t the Iraq war enough of a lesson of what goes spectacularly wrong when you fight wars for oil – or are we so addicted we no longer can think clearly. Surely it makes sense to begin the radical transformation to clean energy now rather than fight wars over the very last drop.