James Buchan Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 68 quotes)
Unlike despotisms, modern democracies are not supposed promiscuously to accumulate property and then charge their taxpayers to maintain it. But that is what they do. Governments are always trying to extend their responsibilities and their estates, and it is very hard for parliaments to reign them in.
Nature is not simply a technical or economical resource, and human beings are not mere numbers. To suggest that one can somehow align all the squabbling institutions of science, environmental management, government and diplomacy in an alliance of convenience to regulate the global climate seems to me optimistic.
The use of refined petroleum as fuel, which began in the 1850s, freed hundreds of millions of people from the toil of centuries, gave hundreds of millions more a life of ease and plenty, and, by allowing great cities to feed themselves from every corner of the world, multiplied the population of the earth fivefold.
For all their current prestige, Osama bin Laden and the suicide bombers are still regarded in all but the most desperate districts of Gaza or Peshawar as romantics with little chance of more than symbolic victories, however bloody and brutal. That gives both the Middle East and the West a small and distant hope of security.
There are signs that the age of petroleum has passed its zenith. Adjusted for inflation, a barrel of crude oil now sells for three times its long-run average. The large western oil companies, which cartellised the industry for much of the 20th century, are now selling more oil than they find, and are thus in the throes of liquidation.