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3 Places Where a Looming Energy War Could Mean Global Economic Disaster in 2012

With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are entering a new epoch in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs.
 
 
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Welcome to an edgy world where a single incident at an energy “chokepoint” could set a region aflame, provoking bloody encounters, boosting oil prices and putting the global economy at risk. With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch — the Geo-Energy Era — in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs. In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world.

Take the Strait of Hormuz, already making headlines and shaking energy markets as 2012 begins. Connecting the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, it lacks imposing geographical features like the Rock of Gibraltar or the Golden Gate Bridge. In an energy-conscious world, however, it may possess greater strategic significance than any passageway on the planet. Every day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankers carrying some 17 million barrels of oil — representing 20 percent of the world’s daily supply — pass through this vital artery.

In the new Geo-Energy Era, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea and the Caspian Basin hardly stand alone as potential energy flashpoints. The East China Sea, where China and Japan are contending for a contested undersea natural gas field, is another, as are the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands, where both Britain and Argentina hold claims to undersea oil reserves, as will be the globally warming Arctic whose resources are claimed by many countries. One thing is certain: wherever the sparks may fly, there’s oil in the water and danger at hand in 2012. 

 

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, ofRising Powers, Shrinking Planet. His newest book, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, will be published in March.  To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Klare discusses the crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, click here, or download it to your iPod here.

Copyright 2012 Michael T. Klare

 

 
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