I’m starting another book, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips. It looks to be a good, informative read, but as I’ve said, I just started.

I’m nowhere near the radical religion or borrowed money chapters yet- Phillips begins by talking about the oil, or more specifically he begins by taking a short walk back in history by looking at two other global giants of their time, Holland and England. He makes note of the fact that the periods of time in which each of these nations became global powers coincided with their access and innovation with the great energy resources of their times. In Holland, it was command of wind and water. With England it was coal. And in both cases, once an energy source was depleted or replaced by another energy source, those countries fell off their perches among the world’s nations and became former superpowers. Phillips notes that the same dynamics have occurred (are occurring) in the US, and predictably, the same fall awaits us- unless we do something about it.

It is no big surprise that US dominance has mirrored the dominance of oil and petroleum as the main energy source on Earth. Our nation lives and breathes oil. It is our lifeblood. Our entire society is based on the concept of cheap and plentiful oil. As such, it should be no big surprise that American government and corporate mentality is focused on maintaining as much control as possible over all the oil it can, including sending men and women abroad to die for access to oil. But what happens when the oil is no longer cheap or plentiful, as is rapidly becoming the case? For Holland, coal surpassed wind and water and left that nation with an infrastructure not ready to move forward. The coming of coal should have been the writing on the wall, but Hollander’s couldn’t or wouldn’t read it. For England, the same happened with coal, only more so, pushing England into dire straits as oil came online and their infrastructure was too totally coal based to convert. They were forced to play catch-up and lost their edge in world status.

America has had at least 30 years or more to prepare for the end of oil as a dominant energy source, but like Holland and England, the government, corporations, and general public are doing nothing, assuming that the oil will be there for us whenever we need it despite all indications to the contrary. And for 30+ years nothing has changed in any real way. We are still beholden to oil, we’ve made scant effort to find other sources of energy, and we’ve demonized some of the best practical alternatives available to us now-nuclear, solar, and hydro power- as too expensive, impractical, or tapped out. That’s not just myopic thinking, it’s a recipe for disaster.

America may still have a chance to keep hold of some of her world power, but only if we move aggressively into new exploration and development of energy. Regardless, our entire society and infrastructure, our power dominance and our financial prowess will soon end or at the very least suffer serious degradation, due to our continued reliance on oil and oil alone. And while this book isn’t about the use of oil and it’s affects on global climate, there are several lessons to be learned in correlation there as well.

Sadly, the other aspects of the book that I’ve not read will almost certainly show how the religious factions in this country have undermined our scientific-technological capability for at least a generation, further assuring our loss of dominance. I will also read more on how our financial policies (again centered around oil) have trapped us into a spiraling whirlpool of debt that will make any real transformations that much more difficult.

The bottom line is simple- America as a superpower will one day come to an end. Of that there can be no uncertainty. What remains then is to position ourselves in such a way as to benefit most from international cooperations and new discoveries and to turn inward and prepare our society for a massive retooling based not on an oil economy.

In the business world they say to be nice to people on your way up because eventually you may see them again on your way down, and maybe as your boss. Well, our government should take that to heart- we’ll not always be on top of the heap, globally speaking, so we’d better stop pissing so many people off.

More on this book as I read it.