As I continue to read as much as I can stomach about Israel’s current struggle for its very survival, I have developed strong desire to shout on the streets. My message to Sharon and all the other leaders in the world is that we do not need oil. That fact should make the equation far different than is currently assumed.
Conventional thinking in Europe, America and other developed areas is that Israel may be a democratic government with a good track record of development and a history of making the desert bloom, but that does not matter much when compared to the fact that the Arabs have oil.
Since many people assume that industrial economies are dependent upon fossil fuels, they are afraid that actually acknowledging that Israel is right would have dire consequences for their own prosperity. They therefore hold their noses and deal with terrorists, thugs, self-indulgent billionaires, and ignorant peacocks that have offered to make a statement “accepting” Israel’s existence in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars worth of land and protection money. They completely ignore the fact that the people they are dealing with have a history of making promises they have no intention of honoring.
The surreal thing is that oil is not even competitive when compared to uranium, thorium or plutonium. Those heavy metals are 2-3 million times as concentrated, they can be adapted to a wide variety of uses, and they do not release a single gram of polluting gases when they are used. They do not require tankers, pipelines or terminals. They are abundant in places like Canada, Australia, and the United States. A few hundred pounds can fuel a powerful ship for its entire 30-year lifetime. A few tons would suffice to power New York until the 22nd century.
Forty-six years ago, when Nasser closed the Suez Canal and precipitated one of the many outbreaks of violence in the Middle East, President Eisenhower sent an envoy to Saudi Arabia’s King Saud and Prince Faisal. That representative was directed to tell Saud and Faisal that the United States had developed cheaper and more efficient sources of energy than oil. The emissary’s message was that if the canal remained a tool of blackmail that American would make nuclear technology available to the Europeans and destroy the value of Saudi oil. (See page 488 of Daniel Yergin’s The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.)
Eisenhower had the technology right, but he chose the wrong messenger. Unfortunately for the world, Robert Anderson was a wealthy Texas oilman who must have realized that if Saudi oil had no value, neither would his oil. Something tells me that he was not particularly convincing. The other factor is that in 1956, there were only a couple of demonstration power plants operating including one on the Nautilus; the potential applications were only just becoming evident.
It is time to send the message again with a real understanding of its revolutionary impact. Oil cannot compete against atomic energy; countries that depend on oil to make them feel important had better – rapidly – think of an alternative power base. I recommend education and an honest respect for the value of human beings as sources of innovation and wealth.