Our centuries-old system of nation-states may not be long for this world, says Hampshire College professor Michael T. Klare at CBS News. It was established with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, at the end of Europe's "intensely brutal" Thirty Years' War. But now, we're about to enter another 30-year period of upheaval and bloodshed. This time it will be global, and the future of the planet, not just individual nations, will be at stake. With growing demand for energy, dwindling oil supplies, and increasing havoc from climate change, whoever is standing tall in 2041 will be the nation or corporation that corners the new energy sources to power our planet. And when it's all over, "the planet is likely to have in place the foundations of a new system for organizing itself — this time around energy needs." Here, an excerpt:
Think of us today as embarking on a new Thirty Years' War. It may not result in as much bloodshed as that of the 1600s, though bloodshed there will be, but it will prove no less momentous for the future of the planet. Over the coming decades, we will be embroiled at a global level in a succeed-or-perish contest among the major forms of energy, the corporations which supply them, and the countries that run on them. The question will be: Which will dominate the world's energy supply in the second half of the 21st century? The winners will determine how — and how badly — we live, work, and play in those not-so-distant decades, and will profit enormously as a result. The losers will be cast aside and dismembered....
Because the acquisition of adequate supplies of energy is as basic a matter of national security as can be imagined, struggles over vital resources — oil and natural gas now, perhaps lithium or nickel (for electric-powered vehicles) in the future — will trigger armed violence.... There is no way the existing energy system can satisfy the world's future requirements. It must be replaced or supplemented in a major way by a renewable alternative system or, forget Westphalia, the planet will be subject to environmental disaster of a sort hard to imagine today.
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