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Brazil Is the New America: How Brazil Offers Upward Mobility in a Collapsing World by James Dale Davidson

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Chapter 10

Reversing the Gap

Brazil as the World’s Emerging Energy Superpower

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the twenty-first century.

—U.S. president Barack Obama

We still do not know exactly how much oil is in the presalt layers. . . . We have strong evidence that God is Brazilian.

—Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff

The translation in this chapter’s epigraph does not do Dilma’s comments justice. A better rendition might read, “While we still do not know exactly how much oil is in the presalt layers, preliminary indications are that the oil is so plentiful that it proves Lula’s assertion that ‘God is a Brazilian.’”

According to Representative Doc Hastings, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Brazil’s offshore oil reserves “contain a combined 58 billion barrels of oil,”1 a providential amount, considering that proven oil reserves in the United States were 21 billion barrels (3.3 × 109 m3) in 2006 according to the Energy Information Administration.

This represents a major turnabout in the fortunes of Brazil, if not in theology. In his intelligent and nuanced analysis from the turn of the millennium, “Tropical Underdevelopment,” Jeffrey D. Sachs argues that the income premium enjoyed in temperate zone economies during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was at least partially attributable to their greater ability to mobilize energy resources. Sachs points out, “with regard to hydrocarbons ...

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