Fuel Price Morons

Every day now, my timeline is filled with howls of rage from both sides of the Atlantic about the high cost of gas/petrol. There are some local differences: US screams tend to be louder, reflecting their greater exposure to crude oil prices, and they tend to blame Obama for the global price rises, believing (incorrectly) that more drilling at home will fix the problem (search for the #DrillHereDrillNow Twitter hashtag to see some real-time stupidity). British morons are generally more aware of the global nature of oil pricing, so instead they turn their rage on government-imposed fuel duties. Both sides miss the key points: that rising global oil prices are outside the control of any individual or nation; that more US-based drilling will at best slow down the rise while wrecking the environment; that addiction to oil won’t be cured by further addiction; and that Europe has actually avoided the worst of oil addiction by imposing high fuel duty (although our price-per-gallon is much higher, our overall spend on fuel isn’t because we use less).

I used to love driving; I loved my car, and drove it as stupidly as a typical 19 year old wannabe racing driver could do. Then, I found a great job – the only downside being that I had a minimum 80 miles per day commute (much more if I had meetings outside the office). The cost wasn’t an issue for me; my employment package included a company car and fully-expensed fuel; but my minimum of 2.5 hours a day in the car soon started eating away at my enjoyment of driving. Despite the fact that most of my commute was on motorways with a speed limit of 70mph, my average speed was around 25mph, and lower if there had been a serious accident.

Day after day, I sat on the M25 (London’s massive ring road, often referred to as “The World’s Biggest Car Park” and subject of the Chris Rea song, Road To Hell), and pondered the wisdom of Britain’s long-term shift from rail to road. I was surrounded by thousands of other people, mostly sitting alone in their own metal boxes, all facing in the same direction, all burning fuel in their own personal engines, and moving very, very slowly.

It slowly became obvious to me that this wasn’t sustainable, either for me personally or for the country. However many lanes were added to the M25, the traffic never sped up significantly – more cars simply arrived to fill the new space. Car ownership and mileage were growing constantly. People were abandoning urban life for the suburban dream. It was clearly impossible to fit cars into a human-sized town or city; the space has to expand to cater for all the cars, whether moving or parked. Car addicts were being offered American-style shopping malls in the middle of nowhere, and town centres were beginning to wither and die as commercial places. And this was long before I first heard about Peak Oil – the (in hindsight) obvious idea that if we keep using more fuel, one day we won’t be able to get it out of the ground quickly enough to serve demand.

My long hours spent behind the wheel took their toll, and I developed back problems and asthma. I grew to hate the car, and became jealous of people who didn’t have to drive to work. Changing to a job where I had to buy my own car made the problem worse. Eventually I moved to a London-based job, sold my car, bought a new bicycle and moved home close to good public transport. On a conservative estimate, I saved £5,000 ($8,000 at today’s rate) a year, my weight fell, my health improved and so did my quality of life.

After 9/11, Osama bin Laden was very clear about his strategy to undermine American power in the Middle East: provoke US revenge attacks, create instability and drive oil prices up to $200 a barrel, thus destroying America’s oil-addicted economy. The 2000 Bush election win had been an effective coup for the oil industry; in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bush and the neocons did what bin Laden had invited them to do, and the seeds were sown for a disastrous end-game of rising demand and unstable supply.

The oil industry is doing what it needs to do: convince us to keep using its product. It does so by lying about the risks of our continued addiction, by denying that peak oil is near, by overstating oil reserves, and by continually lobbying against any new energy source or form of transport that may threaten sales. In 2000, it even installed its own oil-friendly regime in the White House in order to preserve its revenues for another eight years. A Saudi oil minister, aware of the threat to his nation’s future if the world turned its back on oil, is quoted as saying: “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”

Smart individuals can act in their own interests – primarily by abandoning car-based, suburban living. We need to appreciate that destroying more nature for a little more oil won’t change anything; and Europeans should understand that high fuel duty is what has saved us from an even worse disaster to come as oil prices keep rising. We’re driving ourselves fast towards a cliff. We need to stop moaning and start steering.

Nationally and internationally, change is much harder to execute; America in particular is so far down the route of de-urbanisation that it would take decades of concerted leadership to move society back to a high-density, low-energy style of living. And while the oil industry retains its political power, and pumps its anti-peak-oil, anti-climate-change propaganda via outlets like Fox News, this can’t even begin to happen.

Those morons who continue to ignore the obvious deserve their looming fate: suburbia and exurbia will become the new ghettos and ghost towns as their oil-based lifelines to civilisation shrivel away. They can tweet their hatred of Obama forever, but it’s the oil industry, its conservative friends, and our blind acceptance of their lies, that got us to this point.

The Moron Guide to Uprisings

Morons love a world of simple black-and-white facts. So when the world does unpredictable things, this can cause great trauma and distress. For example: when you’ve been brought up believing that the US or Britain are the defenders – no! the creators – of democracy, then actual events in the real world may seem somewhat confusing.

So here is a short guide advising morons as to where they should stand on the various uprisings taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran

We’ll start with an easy one. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979 overthrew the Western-backed murderer known as the Shah, Iran has created a theocratic system that’s hostile to Israel and Western interests in the Middle East, as well as suppressing and brutalising its own people.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 10, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 10, Hostile to US/UK: 10, Crazy leader: 10, Exporting terror: 3

Summary: you can totally support this uprising.

Iraq

Much trickier. Having overthrown a genuinely brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, the US established a colonial authority in Iraq, and gradually hand-built a puppet “democracy” that the old British Empire would have been proud of, while allowing the country’s infrastructure to gradually collapse. The Iraqis are now protesting against the corruption, nepotism and brutality of their new regime! Yes, the one that cost the US taxpayer almost $1tn! Ungrateful wretches!

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 5, Islamist: 3, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 3, Hostile to US/UK: 4, Crazy leader: 2, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: although the people of Iraq may think they deserve a real democracy, they don’t. We paid for it, so it’s ours now.

Egypt

The overthrow of Mubarak greatly confused morons. On the one hand, yes he did rob, torture and kill his own people. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood sounds really scary.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 9, Islamist: 1, Oil reserves: 0, Hostile to Israel: 1, Hostile to US/UK: 1, Crazy leader: 9, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: Besides him being a complete bastard, there seems no other good reason to support the overthrow of Mubarak. However, it’s already happened, so best pretend you support democracy in Egypt (while warning that the Brotherhood will eat Christians’ babies).

Tunisia

See Egypt.

Libya

Very tricky – on the one hand, we’ve been told that Gaddafi is a crazy, evil Muslim dictator for decades, and he seems to have had a hand in the Lockerbie bomb/plane crash. On the other hand, Tony Blair suddenly decided that we like him after all, which had nothing (I repeat, nothing) to do with BP wanting to get their grubby hands on Libyan oil.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 3, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 8, Hostile to US/UK: 7, Crazy leader: 10, Exporting terror: 10

Summary: There’s no good reason not to support this uprising. However I’m sure our leaders will suddenly discover an Islamist threat lurking behind the scenes (in other words, they want the oil, and Gaddafi will give it to them).

Bahrain

Nasty, oppressive regime that took the first possible opportunity to shoot protesters, even while sleeping. Sounds easy right? Wrong – the US Navy has a huge base there.

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 9, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 5, Hostile to US/UK: 3, Crazy leader: 7, Exporting terror: 1

Summary: although this seems easy, this is a major oil state and host to the US Empire. You need to sit on the fence, and just pretend you support whatever happens next.

Saudi Arabia

There is no sane reason to support the Saudi regime. It seems to represent everything that freedom-lovers everywhere should despise. It is the birthplace of extremist Wahhabi Islam, which has led to the creation of Al Qaida and to the events of 9/11. There are few human rights, and women’s rights are non-existent. So this should be easy…

Score (out of 10): Brutality: 10, Islamist: 10, Oil reserves: 10, Hostile to Israel: 6, Hostile to US/UK: 6, Crazy leader: 8, Exporting terror: 10

Summary: Despite everything, maintaining the vile, terrorist regime in Saudi Arabia is highly important to the US Empire in the Middle East and elsewhere. The fall of the Saudi regime may be as critical to America as the loss of India was to the British. Do NOT support this uprising. If anyone asks you why, call them a Commie asshole.

UK Government Sabotages Green Investment

This week, with almost no comment in the British press, an industry was killed off. This wasn’t just any industry, but one that has recently created 17,000 jobs, and is tipped to be one of the world’s fastest-growing: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power generation.

In April 2010, the UK belatedly adopted the idea of FITs (Feed-In Tariffs), a form of subsidy that was already widespread in Germany and other countries. FITs are a cost-effective subsidy that guarantee a fixed amount for energy generated from renewable sources. The introduction of FITs allowed entrepreneurs to create business plans for the creation of Solar PV businesses; they then approached green energy investors to raise the capital required to build solar farms (typically in Cornwall and elsewhere in South-West England). Initial investments were injected by angel investors – typically individuals investing relatively small amounts of their own cash.

Yet suddenly, the UK Government has announced a review of FITs for Solar PV. The effect on the industry has been instant; investment in Solar PV has been frozen, companies have laid off staff, and investments made to date are rendered potentially worthless. Land already allocated for solar farms now sits idle. Not only solar is affected: the result of the announcement is to create uncertainty for all green energy investment: why take the risk of following the Solar industry into the same hole?

The action is moronic at many levels:

  • There is no risk for government in FITs – all risk is taken by private entrepreneurs and investors.
  • Germany and China have already stolen a march in the green energy sector. This may be the UK’s last chance to lead in a sector that’s growing at a huge rate.
  • Without investment in green energy now, we expose ourselves to ever higher oil prices, and make ourselves more reliant on Russia as a gas provider.
  • The loss of 17,000 private-sector jobs comes at the worst possible time, when unemployment is already rising due to government cuts.

Whether the review announcement was simply done through incompetence, or whether the power of the fossil fuel industry was involved remains to be seen. Regardless, I name government ministers Chris Huhne and Greg Barker as Morons Of The Week.

British readers may want to write to Huhne or their own MPs using this open letter.

Oil And Morons

Oil: wherever you find it, you’ll find morons. And wherever there are morons, there are people talking crap about oil.

The History Of Oil In One Short Paragraph

In the Middle East, so much oil was lying on the surface that people have been using it in small quantities for centuries. And when in England the industrial revolution was born, coal became popular, and shipping converted from wind to coal. But some bright spark realised that oil was a more useful shipping fuel, and when WW1 broke out in 1914, the British converted the naval fleet to oil; the only problem being that there were no known oil supplies in Britain. So the jolly old Brits occupied (what are now) Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern places in order to secure an oil supply. Later, as the British Empire collapsed, the US Empire moved in to replace it. The world’s biggest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, was denied democracy and put into the hands of limb-chopping Western-friendly morons. And so in 2001, 19 Arabs (of whom 16 were Saudi) flew planes into tall buildings in America… which was used an an excuse to re-invade Iraq, and while the Americans occupied Baghdad, the British occupied Basra which (not coincidentally) they had first done back in 1914. Which brings us more or less to the present day.

Addiction?

It turns out the winner in this game may actually be the loser. Easy availability and low fuel taxes have encouraged Americans to behave as if oil is forever cheap and plentiful. With 5% of the global population, the US consumes about 24% of the oil supply (about 20.6 million barrels per day, of a global total of 85 million). In contrast, European countries have taxed fuel more heavily, with the result that Europeans are far more fuel-efficient. An American uses more than double the oil a German does, and almost 12 times a Chinese person. Of course, that would be fine for Americans if oil supplies were plentiful and cheap forever…

And now here comes a perfect storm. Several things are happening simultaneously that will cause a series of increasing shocks to the oil-dependent economies unless there is intelligent, decisive action to reduce oil addiction.

  1. Oil is becoming harder and more expensive to extract. The easy supplies are already used up.
  2. The Asian, Latin American and African economies are growing much faster than the developed world, and so is their demand for oil.
  3. It may be that oil producers can no longer extract oil fast enough to reach rising demand – this idea is known as Peak Oil. While 1 and 2 above would cause a gradual rise in prices, this one could cause huge, rapid leaps in price. The only question mark is about when this happens.

It’s not as if any of this is secret. Jimmy Carter understood the addiction problem in the 1970s. Obama, in his book The Audacity Of Hope, said:

It is hard to overstate the degree to which our addiction to oil undermines our future. Without any change to energy policy, US demand for oil will jump 40% in 20 years. Over the same period, worldwide demand will jump 30%.

A large portion of the $800 million we spend on foreign oil every day goes to some of the world’s most volatile regimes. And there are the environmental consequences. Just about every scientist outside the White House believes climate change is real.

We cannot drill our way out of the problem. Instead of subsidizing the oil industry, we should end every single tax break the industry currently receives and demand that 1% of the revenues from oil companies with over $1 billion in quarterly profits go toward financing alternative energy research and infrastructure.

Of course, this is easier to write when you’re not President. The oil industry wields real power in the Land Of The Free – probably more than the President does.

Morons In Denial

The oil industry, sensing a threat, denies that peak oil is near. An admission would prompt a rush to invest in green energy, which would limit future oil profits. (Similarly, admission of man-made climate change would lead to a collapse in oil profits which is why it invests so much money in denialist propaganda). From the twisted world view of big oil, a few decades of profits prior to global economic collapse are worth it.

America’s moron politicians, many funded by big oil, repeat the lie. And most Americans, tricked into leaving urban areas for the open spaces of exurbia in previous decades, are addicted to their cars, many facing ruin if the cost of fuel rises substantially. Together, big oil, many politicians and most consumers continue to wish the problem away.

Every small bump in the oil price prompts an eruption of tweets from morons, trying to apportion blame. They blame Obama, China, terrorism. They need to know that the problem is a temporary one and can be fixed. What they can’t accept is that oil prices will rise, and rise and rise, never reaching a stable peak but accelerating, until the world finally invests in sustainable alternatives to oil. Osama bin Laden is recorded as saying that a $200/barrel oil price would wreck America’s economy – his strategy is to provoke US wars, causing instability, costing America money and pushing up oil prices. America under the neo-cons seems to have gone along with this plan.

The oil industry, of course, says that the solution is to drill more. Moron politicians, led by Sarah “Drill, Baby, Drill” Palin take up the cry. And morons, desperate for a solution that doesn’t involve them reducing their fuel usage, scream at Obama to do so. More drilling can only postpone finding a solution, leading to an even greater crash when domestic oil fails to meet demand.

Moronic “just keep burning oil” messages can be seen on blogs such as Fausty’s. In one amusing post, he trumpets a “fall” in the oil price, posting a graph that shows the price of Brent Crude dropping from $97.6 to $97.2 (that’s a fall?!). Morons like this attribute every rise to “speculation” and every fall to “common sense”. Judging from the continual rise, there must be a lot more speculation than common sense… see this chart for the long-term trend.

And Now?

America needs a huge plan of re-urbanisation (cities are far more fuel-efficient places than suburbs and exurbs). But that would require political consensus, which would require that moron politicians (primarily but not exclusively Republicans) stop taking oil money and turn their back on the oil industry’s lies. It would also hurt the war industry, who would much rather spend $1 trillion on a war for Iran’s oil than spend $1 trillion on becoming the world leader in renewable energy. Will America make the change in time? Maybe, but not without removing corporate power from government. Perhaps it’s already too late for America to avoid an oil-price-induced depression. In that case, all the rest of the world can do is try to insulate themselves from America’s coming oil crash.

9/11 Tweetathon

9/11 is one of the most significant events to affect America in the past few decades; and yet so few Americans seem to understand why it happened, or know anything about the events leading up to it. On September 11 last year, I posted one tweet per hour throughout the day on the subjects of 9/11, terrorism, the so-called “war on terror”, and world events in the preceding decades that played a part in building up global anger towards America.

I’d like to thank @dbudlov, a twitter user who has collated my 24 tweets into one block, and regularly reposted them to Twitter; here’s the whole set of tweets, with extra notes added in italics.

1) In memory of the almost-3,000 innocents, killed in New York by morons 9 years ago

2) 16 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. None were Afghan or Iraqi
(It’s amazing that Bush/Rumsfeld ignored this point, and most commentators still do. The attackers weren’t a mix of “Muslims” or “Arabs” – they were almost all Saudis, as is Osama bin Laden).
3) Most of the hijackers were Saudis. In 2001, the US had 10,000 troops in Saudi Arabia (fighting which war?)
(Let’s ask again: more than a decade after the end of the Cold War, what legitimate reason did America have for a military occupation of Saudi Arabia? Wouldn’t Saudis be a little… well, pissed off, to be under foreign occupation?)

4) Al Qaeda originated in Saudi Arabia, the world’s #1 oil producer, friend of America, and creator of fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam
(So… blame Afghanistan, right?)

5) On Sep 11 1973, the elected Chilean govt was overthrown by the army with help from the CIA. Around 3,000 people were later killed
(Coincidentally, America took part in an illegal attack against a democratic government on September 11, 28 years earlier. You couldn’t make this stuff up…)

6) The Taliban were never involved in the 9/11 attacks, although this was never made clear by the Bush admin.
(By blurring different groups with distinct ideas and aims, the neo-cons created the illusion of a powerful enemy, intent on attacking America. Mixing up Al Qaeda, a Saudi terror group, with the Taliban, a fundamentalist Afghan group, was part of this propaganda exercise.)

7) Iran’s last elected govt. was overthrown in 1953 by a UK/US-backed coup. Which kinda explains why Iranians don’t trust America
(Iran has never attacked another state in modern history. On the other hand, America has been repeatedly involved in destabilising Iran, and creating propaganda about Iran being a “threat”. Iran also has the 4th biggest oil reserves; these facts are probably related.)

8 ) The only chemical weapons used in the Iraq war were deployed by US forces in the city of Fallujah http://bit.ly/cC3Dsb
(Ironic huh? Given that “Saddam’s WMDs” were the reason given for attacking Iraq… click the link above to read about the aftermath of using chemical weapons in a city of 300,000 people.)

9) Around half of Americans wrongly believed Saddam was involved in 9/11. The Iraq war claimed at least 97,000 civilian lives
(If you’re going to support a war, shouldn’t you understand why the war is happening first?)

10) Like Iraq, the Vietnam War was started by a lie. An estimated 4m civilians died
(You’d assume the US would have learned something from Vietnam, wouldn’t you?)

11) In the 1980s, Reagan backed terrorist groups throughout Central America, resulting in around 200,000 civilian deaths
(3,000 deaths in New York bad. 200,000 deaths in Central America best-not-to-mention.)

12) In 1988, US missiles took down Iran Air Flight 655, killing 290 civilians inc. 66 children http://bit.ly/cx5DQw
(Terrorism is bad, m’kay? Except where it’s our terrorism.)

13) 1976: terrorist Orlando Bosch and 3 others with CIA support blew up Cubana Flight 455, killing 73 civilians. He lives in Miami
(Terrorists are assholes m’kay? Except for our terrorists.)

14) 1979 Iranian revolution removed The Shah, America’s torturer, from power. US still seeking an excuse for revenge
(How dare a Middle Eastern country refuse to be ruled from Washington?)

15) The terrorist IRA killed over 3,000 civilians in Britain and Ireland from the 70s to the 90s, with money from American supporters
(NORAID raised money for the Provisional IRA in the US, while the IRA were blowing up civilians in Britain and Ireland. Apparently some terrorism is worse than others.)

16) Both Saddam and bin Laden were American agents who went astray – pick your friends more wisely?
(The US helped bring the Ba’ath Party to power in Iraq via a 1963 coup, and later encouraged and supported Saddam Hussein in his illegal war against Iran. When Saddam gassed Kurdish civilians in 1988, the US response was muted and support for Saddam continued until Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Arab and Afghan mujahideen that became Al Qaeda and the Taliban was supported and trained by the US, partly in Pakistani “madrassas” during the 1980s. The results of US cold war policy in the region are clear today.)

17) Occupations always create terrorists. The US has over 1,000 military bases on foreign soil
(…in over 150 countries. People don’t like foreign troops on their soil – no doubt Americans would also object if it happened to them.)


18) Half a million Iraqi children died under US-led sanctions in the 90s, usually through shortages of medicine
(A total of around a million Iraqis died under the sanctions regime. In hindsight, this was done to weaken Iraq enough to attack it with minimal military resistance. This helps explain why Iraqis were less enthusiastic about the US invasion than expected.)


19) 1,271 Afghan civilians were killed in 1st 6 months of 2010 alone
(3,000 deaths in New York changed the world. Thousands of deaths elsewhere can be ignored.)

20) It’s not about Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia or Yemen. The terrorist problems emanate from Saudi Arabia and Israel
(The neo-cons turned America’s post-9/11 fear and loathing against convenient targets, avoiding the 2 sources of most anger and discontent in the region. The Saudi regime is among the world’s most tyrannical, but sits on massive oil reserves. Democracy in Saudi Arabia is a pre-requisite for Middle Eastern peace, and also a threat to US oil interests. Israel is America’s most reliable regional ally, and hence gets away with murder – literally.)

21) The “Saudi royal family” was a creation of the British Empire and later adopted by the US. Oil beats democracy
(As the British Empire collapsed, it appointed puppets to continue maintaining British interests. With the rise of the US Empire, these switched from being UK clients to US clients. If Saudi Arabia had no oil, America would call for democracy there, as it does for Syria and Yemen.)

22) The top Middle Eastern oil reserves and US control: 1) Saudi (check) 2) Iran (in progress) 3) Iraq (check) 4) Kuwait (check)
(The list of oil reserves by country reads like a checklist of America’s foreign policy priorities.)
23) In 2001 Rumsfeld said Al Qaeda had 100,000 followers. In reality, less than 1,000. The lie of the decade?
(The end of the cold war by 1990 threatened the power of the US military, intelligence community and arms industry. A new enemy had to found, whether real or fabricated. 9/11 gave the pretext: a small terrorist group took advantage of lax airline security to carry out a massive terrorist attack. Rumsfeld’s big lie laid the basis for the “global war on terror”. Acceptance that Al Qaeda numbered no more than a few hundred activists would have precluded a military response. The Al Qaeda brand was largely created by the US response to 9/11 – had YOU heard of it beforehand?)

24) The war machine sucks up tax dollars that could create the world’s best health and education systems. Just Say NO
(The “cold war”, the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror” were all chosen as pretexts to allow an endless American war. In 1942, hundreds of thousands of US troops were deployed to fight Japan and Germany, but the end of WW2 was a strategic turning point. Rather than bring the troops home, they were kept overseas, and remain to this day: 369,000 US troops are based in over 150 countries, maintaining the biggest empire the world has seen. While the empire drains America’s pockets, it creates trillions of dollars of wealth for America’s richest; the Global American War can be viewed as a massive redistribution of American wealth, from poor to rich. It can happen because Americans allow themselves to be frightened by a never-ending list of new enemies. As European empires collapsed, Europe was able to invest in health, education, transport and housing while America fell behind. Now it’s America’s turn.)

Looking Ahead: Morons in 2011

At this time in a new year, you can expect political pundits, economists and “futurologists” to give their predictions for the next 12 months. As the world’s leading Moronologist (self-appointed), I’ve decided to share my predictions for the coming 12 months. Where will be the hotspots of moron activity? Who are the morons to watch? What will morons be doing and saying in 2011?

Prediction 1: Winter will be colder than summer

OK – that’s obvious. However, this simple fact takes morons by surprise every year, and provides their small minds with “evidence” that man-made global warming is a myth. Meanwhile, the oil, coal, gas, motor, road and aviation industries will continue to fund denialist organisations in order to keep millions of morons confused.

Morons to watch: in the absence of any actual scientists who deny climate change, the serial climate liar Christopher Monckton is likely to again be wheeled out by deniers. It doesn’t matter that he’s been repeatedly discredited; morons don’t check facts anyway.

Probability: 100%

Prediction 2: The Tea Party will become increasingly confused

Given the extreme levels of confusion already existing within these moronic groups, this is a braver prediction. The Tea Party is a loose-knit collection of assorted morons, who believe they are part of an “anti-elite” movement, but who in fact are funded and nurtured by some fairly “elite” types. As activists realise they’ve been primarily used as a tool to win lower taxes and looser regulation for the super rich and big business, many will drift away, disillusioned.

Morons to watch: this may be a make-or-break year for Sarah Palin, the Moron Queen of Morondom. Her chances of becoming 2012 presidential candidate seem to be slipping, and she’s likely to end 2011 by drifting further from politics towards lucrative celebrity deals.

Probability: 75%

Prediction 3: Islamaphobia to rise in Europe/Israel, peak in US/UK

This is a complex one; since 9/11, morons have been inciting even dumber morons to believe that Islam poses a threat to life, the universe and everything. Islamaphobia has helped fuel the growth of neo-fascist movements across Europe, that were already in recovery as collective memories of the Holocaust faded away. Xenophobia is at the core of European identity, though Europe plays well at being “tolerant” in between the odd genocide. Neo-fascists have been making electoral gains for some time in places like France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and across the old Soviet bloc. Israel has also seen a long rise of neo-fascists being elected – something that has deeply disturbed Holocaust survivors.

Meanwhile in Britain, which has always been less fertile ground for fascism than most of Europe, the BNP (British National Party) appears to be heading for collapse amidst electoral failure and financial meltdown. The EDL (English Defence League), perhaps Britain’s dumbest organisation, has gained somewhat as a result, but I predict that they too will splinter and decline during 2011, largely because they don’t seem to have any member who can read or write.

And in America, where mainstream politics are further to the right, the far-right have always found a home within the Republican Party, which ironically seems to rein in their more extreme elements.

Morons to watch: Publicity-seeking Pamela Geller will keep ranting to ever-smaller crowds before vanishing from public view. BNP Leader and British eyesore Nick Griffin may well be ousted as BNP leader. Creepy-looking Dutch MP and inciter of hatred Geert Wilders will continue to be the rallying point for Nazis across Europe.

Probability: 50% – very much depends on whether Islamist terrorist morons (or people pretending to be Islamist terrorist morons) succeed in any major attacks in the West during this year. Also depends on unemployment levels across Europe.

Prediction 4: US economy will gain strength as UK weakens

2011 will provide the results of the big test: stimulus spending (as tried by the Obama administration and by the outgoing Labour government in the UK until May) and government spending cuts (as favoured by the UK’s new Conservative leaders). UK consumers are already reacting badly to VAT rises and government jobs cuts… which is likely to lead to lower tax revenues, and the need for even more cuts (as already demonstrated in Ireland).

Morons to watch: the new Republican speaker John “Crybaby” Boehner needs to help derail the recovery if the Republicans are to have a good chance of winning the 2012 presidential elections. UK Prime Minister David “Rich Boy” Cameron will announce that the recovery is weaker than expected (without taking the blame) and “regretfully” announce further spending cuts.

Probability: 60% – depends on many factors including Prediction 5…

Prediction 5: Oil price rises, morons draw wrong conclusions

Upwards pressure on oil prices continues for simple reasons: the easiest-to-reach supplies are dwindling, pushing oil companies to exploit more expensive sources like oil sands and deep-sea wells. America uses in excess of a quarter of the world’s oil supplies, but developing countries are growing much faster than the West, and use more oil each day.

If your friend was addicted to a substance that is becoming increasingly expensive and hard to come by, which of the following advice would you give them?

  1. Try to use less of it, or
  2. Keep using more, and spend more time and money looking for new supplies.

The oil industry runs the Republican Party, and the Republican Party now runs the House of Representatives, so America will try 2) the moron approach. Being chronically addicted to oil, the moron approach is to spend huge amounts of money to find more oil, and deepen the addiction in the process, leading to an even deeper crash when global oil supplies finally peak. At the time of writing, the oil price is $89 per barrel, and will probably be significantly higher at the end of 2011.

Being so deeply in the grip of oil morons, America’s choices are a painful adjustment now, or an even more painful adjustment later. “Kicking the can down the road” is the moronic choice, and no doubt the approach America will take. Meanwhile China, apparently less in awe of everything the oil industry says, is investing heavily in green energy alternatives.

Morons to watch: The newly-empowered Republicans will stall attempts to invest in green energy, and try to kill rail investment (which would cut transport energy usage). The oil industry will continue to claim that there are centuries of oil supplies left, despite all the evidence. Morons will complain that the price of gas keeps rising, but keep on driving their SUVs anyway.

Probability: 80%

And finally… Predictions 6 and 7: Jesus won’t return and the world won’t end

And now for some morons we can all laugh at (well, almost all of us anyway).

A group calling itself We Can Know ran posters last year in Nashville, Tennessee to advertise their web site. They claim that Jesus will return on May 21 2011, and the world will end on October 21 2011. Their campaign was reported in The Tennessean, but the story was later removed (original link). Meanwhile, many other groups have settled on December 21 2012 as the true date.

For those who believe in the Rapture, and are worried about their pets’ wellbeing after they float up to heaven, a kindly group of atheists have set up a pet care service.

Morons to watch: look out for religious nuts acting even angrier than usual when they wake up on May 22 and find they shouldn’t have sold all their worldly belongings on eBay for a dollar.

Probability: 100% (actually, make that 99%… just in case)