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Mark Rais: Oil Rules The World

Oil Rules The World


by Mark Rais

Five of the top ten highest revenue earning companies on earth are oil companies, according to the just released Fortune Magazine summary. Perhaps more importantly, of the top ten companies, nine of them are either oil companies or automobile companies. Oil and its derivative markets drive much of the world’s current economics and politics.

The depth and breadth in which oil production, processing, and distribution influences the human race is far more expansive than most media convey. There are the daily, subtle indicators that oil is a factor in national politics. In New Zealand, the price of petrol has become a political instrument. Certainly it influences people’s decisions regarding holiday making, work commute, and monthly family budgets. It also influences the national economy, directly affecting the strength of the import/export markets and thereby the GDP and national debt.

New Zealand is obviously not alone. Every nation on earth is similarly influenced by oil. We see tell tale signs of this across every continent. In America an entire nation struggles with the challenge of fighting terrorists while at the same time funding them through their substantial oil purchases. The latest Energy Information Administration statistic shows that the United States imported 408 million barrels of oil between January and June last year. In the Middle East, oil influences nearly every decision. How the security council will address Iran is factored by Iran’s oil exports. In an even more complex peculiarity, Iran exports vast amounts of crude oil and imports a substantive amount of this back as refined oil. Iraq continues to suffer the turmoil of internal struggles for the oil rich northern region, controlled by Kurdish people.

Investigations quickly reveal that overt nations like Iran and Iraq may be at the heart of the oil debate, but nearly every nation is being strongly influenced by oil. In Africa, eruptions of fanatical elements, battles between government and rebel troops are frequently driven by the struggle for oil access or control. Nigeria’s current turmoil in it’s northern territory is another signifier that oil and its negative influence on national economy and stability is pervasive.

However, the powerful influence of oil on national culture and life is far more deep than simply the price of petrol.

Petroleum is today one of the most pervasive and significant influencing agents of all history. The use of petroleum has expanded in the last fourty years from a fuel source to a component of every culture and society.

Almost all manufactured goods in the world today include petroleum as a primary ingredient, with plastic becoming the singular most used material. Toys are not alone in this. Plastics are used in every major component, tool or manufactured product. Among the more prolific are cleaning products, including those that are potentially ingested such as dishwasher detergents. Even though it has been scientifically documented that plastics, an organic, may be harmful to humans when ingested, the use of petroleum products continues to increase – even in medical treatments.

Petroleum is today a primary base for medicines. Many of the leading over the counter medications use some petroleum based ingredients. From anti-biotic ointments to laxatives, even the medical industry has transfused the function of oil into a solution.

Cultural influence of oil is great. In history, never before has a singular product become so fundamental and foundational to human endeavors. There were the well documented historical ages, such as the iron age and the bronze age. It would therefore be reasonable to consider that today we are living in the oil age. A time when oil not only influences national economy, military endeavors, and daily human life, it influences national stability and strength. It does so in an oft negative pattern where the commodity is applied as a tool for war and subjugation.

Oil, simply another organic, moved in the last fourty years to become the primary influencing agent of the entire human race.

Perhaps it is now time to move out of the oil age to a new age, where petroleum and its derivatives are not perceived as fundamental resources. There are many often cleaner and more effective fuel sources. Manufacturing with other materials that are non-organics such as sand often provides much more long lasting products. Developing medicines and medical treatments from other natural sources may lead to improvements in curative solutions. More importantly, reducing the reliance upon a singular commodity may not only reduce national budgetary woes, it may lead to a healthier and more well rounded life style. The first step here in New Zealand, is to identify and apply alternative solutions.

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Mark Rais is a freelance writer primarily for the information technology and science industry. He currently serves as a senior editor for an on-line technology magazine and has written articles on the influence of technology on society.

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