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The Saker >>
How Long Before Britain Occupies All of Ireland Again due to Climate Chaos and Peak Oil?
Tuesday April 18, 2006 15:41 by Terence - None
Is Britain finished with Ireland? No.
In this article the case is made that once the disastrous consequences of Climate Change and Peak Oil begin to bite that Great Britain will almost certainly re-invade the whole of Ireland again to gain access to our land and agricultural resources to help either supply the mainland and also to transfer some of it's population here. The timeline for this could be within the next decade or so. And why Ireland? Quite simply because we are so near. Why not? And how ironic it would be if this happened to occur in 2016?
Outline map of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales
In a recent speech by the UK Defense Secretary John Reid in Chatham House, London, -reported here http://www.energybulletin.net/newswire.php?id=13605 he outlined how climate change and dwindling natural resources (code for Peak Oil) were combining to increase the likelihood of violent conflict over land, water and energy because Climate change will make scarce resources, clean water, viable agricultural land even scarcer and this will make the emergence of violent conflict more rather than less likely.
In the last year or two especially since the publication of the Pentagon report (“An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security”) the possibility of chaotic and disastrous effects of Climate Change has been occupying the minds of the military and various governments and quite clearly John Reid's speech was the first major public outing of the UK's thoughts on it. And what's being discovered is that this is not a subject for the namby pamby hippies and greens but that it has political and social consequences too. Perhaps it's a pity they didn't realize that about 30 years ago when they were told these things were on the medium term horizon during the Club of Rome days in 1972.
The net result is that they see the developing world sinking quite rapidly into all sorts of major conflicts and strife where the effects of Global Warming are even greater than at temperate latitudes because in most of those countries they already have huge populations and severe water shortages and problems with rapidly eroding soils.
Reid acknowledged though that the more developed countries would not likely be spared from these same damaging and destabilizing effects. He may have been indirectly saying that if problem become so bad elsewhere it could effect the supply of food and other stuffs. In this era of cheap oil, Great Britain whose population is 60 million is quite obviously way over populated, has an ecological footprint much bigger than the UK itself. Cheap oil and the still functioning climate and ecosystem elsewhere allows the UK to draw it's resources from all around the world to maintain itself. If and when even some of these supply lines get cut off and considering it looks like 2005 was the year of Peak Oil, then the UK will have to look closer to home. And that is why I suggest that it will soon make sense to re-occupy Ireland again and to make use of it's resources to help solve or ease it's own problems at home. It's quite likely the British establishment and military are aware that this option or scenario could well arise considering Reid specifically stated that no society however affluent would escape involvement in these conflicts.
The UK is now so heavily urbanised that it is difficult to see how if it had to, it could feed it's own population without some gigantic effort to remould the entire system there. It should be noted that North Sea oil already peaked back in 1999 and production has dropped some 25% since then. It's gas fields are in decline and it is now turning to Russia for supplies. But the key point is that industrial agriculture is heavily dependent on plentiful supplies of cheap fossil fuel. Without these the migration from the land will have to be reversed, because although organic farming could probably ultimately do the job, it will require far more people living on the land and the configuration of urban Britain makes that a difficult switch. It would be far easier to increase the supply of food from Ireland. And as global crisis gets worse as Climate Change becomes Climate Chaos, the relatively plentiful supply of farmland, outside of the sprawl of Dublin at least, will be a useful dumping ground and granary for it's surplus population.
In the early stages greatly increased trading might suffice but as difficulties mounted and tensions were rising everywhere and supposing for a moment the government here was reluctant to sell enough output or it felt the terms were increasingly unfavourable then the point must surely come when it would be time to dispatch the troops.
Yet another fact to note is that within 15 years the Corrib Gas field which was effectively stolen from the Irish people through a series of undemocratic manoeuvres by successive corrupt Irish politicians, will be depleted assuming it were to start production soon. Then we will be entirely dependent on gas pipelines connecting us to the UK and from there onwards to the last dregs of gas in the North Sea or onward to Europe and Russia. In the manner of the recent game of hardball by Putin with natural gas to Ukraine, the UK will have a nice leverage to strong arm what it wants from Ireland. From it's point of view it would be best to get as much from here for the least amount of effort and resources, although in time the gas lever may not be sufficient. This argument alone is reason enough why the Corrib field should be taken back off Shell et al and given to the people of Ireland to use wisely and sparingly so that it can last us far more than 15 years which is presumably based on the assumption of sucking it dry as quick as possible.
And what are the chances of us resisting another English invasion? That of course is difficult to say and depends largely on how it comes about, the way it is done and the resources it puts into it and not least how desperate it is. This raises the question of what should we, as a country being doing about this now and should we even bother to resist. To anyone on the Left or Green it is obvious that we should be heading towards cooperation and working together with the Brits that is, repairing the environment, helping to mitigate Climate change and building a sustainable and equitable future. Only by that means can we possibly avoid conflict.
But first lets see how desperate the Brits might get. The population of the Ireland including Northern Ireland is about 5.5 million (4 m + 1.5 m) and covers an area of approximately 32,000 square miles. The population of the UK is 60 million with an area 89,400 sq mi. However at least half of Scotland at 30,000 sq mi is composed of largely unproductive uplands and peat which must surely mean the effective UK area is closer to around 75,000 sq mi or a little over double that of Ireland. During the famine in Ireland in the late 1840s the population was around 8 million and the land was pretty much intensely farmed. The famine of course though was due more to the effects of capitalism even back then, because at the time parliament was insistent that the free market should prevail and no help was given to the Irish until a few years after the start. However it is probably reasonable to assume that we were close to our sustainable population level then. So if it is say 8 to 10 million for Ireland, then it can not be far more than double that for the UK giving a figure between 16 to 20+ million. These figures it turns out are in rough agreement of those from the Optimum Population Trust who give figures of 8 and 29 million respectively for modest lifestyle standards. (See http://www.optimumpopulation.org/opt.af.tab2e.hmt2a.xls ). Rounding 29m to 30m, that still leaves 30m too many for the UK to feed and gives some idea of the scale of the potential problem. Quite simply we could be overwhelmed.
So what tactics for the British would arise logically from these facts or constraints? Well ideally if they just emptied Ireland and replaced us with 8 million of their own that would help and wiping out Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway would be a start. But flattening these cities through bombing would be messy and unpopular and would destroy much needed infrastructure. Alternatively a few neutron bombs would be ideal for them since they kill people and leave property undamaged, although the Brits don't actually have any. This of course is inhuman to put it mildly, but then all wars are inhuman and when did that stop any capitalist power? After all the usage of depleted uranium in Iraqi is likely to permanently damage the collective genomes of the population there and the capitalists don't care because all they want is their oil. So there is a precedent of sorts. Seriously though the most viable solution would -following the lines as indicated above about controlling our gas supplies when ours are gone, would be to weaken and starve us into submission. This could be achieved by an naval blockade that would cut off our oil and gas supplies. The best time to do it would be in winter when food-stocks might be relatively low. The effect of this would be to cripple fertiliser production (needs natural gas) and agricultural production since if there's no diesel for the tractors, we would be screwed. Cutting off food imports would then ensure that even with Trojan efforts it would take us months to grow our own food. By then we more malleable.
Ah but other countries would never allow that. Well eh, relying on the US even now would wishful thinking. In 15 years the EU may have broken up in disunity as problems hit home everywhere. By 2020 global oil production is likely to be down anywhere from 30% to 50% having long convulsed the capitalist model of endless growth, by plunging it into global depression and the annual losses to the global economy from damage due to Climate Change from storms, drought and failed crops could be very costly and over burden it. By then the Germans could be invading Poland, again for the same reason the Brits would be here. Nope, Ireland by virtue of it's unique geographical position in relation to the UK, is always going to be primarily under Britain's sphere of influence and nothing much is going to change that anytime soon.
Therefore it makes sense for all Left and Green groups on both sides of the Irish Sea and of course elsewhere to bring about this change and dispense with capitalism and it's authoritarian successors. And what then does that mean in practical terms too? Well it means we should behave responsibly and reduce our use of fossil fuels that which are the main cause of Global Warming and stop the wasteful production and consumption of so many useless short lived goods that ultimately mean increasing amounts of pollution dumped into our soils, water and air. And since a significant amount of fossil fuel is wasted via the private car where they spend much of their time driving slowly in cities and on new motorways to the commuter belts because the madness of capitalism has driven people there, then to cut our CO-2 emissions and make oil last a lot longer, we should therefore abandon all those plans to spend billions more on motorways since there is going to be a lot less driving after Peak Oil anyhow. Those resources should instead be channelled into building a sustainable infrastructure, boosting our use of renewable energies and in the transport sector greatly increasing public transport. For example just 1 billion euro which would be less than the price of another motorway, could easily build enough wind power capacity to provide 25% of our electricity. And that's doable today.
Industrial agriculture has already taken it's toll on our environment, so lets not make it worse. The most immediate action should be to transform all agriculture to organic farming which primarily means less artificial fertiliser and a lot more smaller holdings resulting in a significant shift of the population back to a more rural model with an emphasis of settlement around smaller towns and villages. The benefit here in terms of resisting 'pressure' from Britain is that we would be a lot more dispersed and will be able to cope much better if oil and gas were cut off and a lot more people would be growing their own food directly as well as the country nationally being less vulnerable to gaps in imports and just as importantly we might be in a better position to cope with Climate Change. It would also be more in line with sustainable living.
If these changes were implemented then they would automatically reduce the enormous stresses that are already arising from our ludicrous assault on the environment and in that way tensions would be eased back. It is basically the same recipe for every country everywhere. There is really no other option. If we do nothing, then we will ultimately pay for this through war or something close to it. In some ways the die is already cast.
But one thing's for sure Britain's interest in Ireland is likely to greatly increase and not decrease in the immediate future.
Ireland's Gas Supply. Kinsale and Corrib Gas Fields