Volatile compounds require stabilising agents to prevent them from becoming a mess. Recipes use it, explosives use it, it is what the preservatives do in food products to stave off decay.
Gwynne Dyer draws some alarming attention to the potential of China's real estate bubble, noting in particular the West's path dependency of sustained Chinese economic growth. It isn't just the US economy that is dependent on Chinese growth, but the bulk of the economic strength of much of the West's economies.
Should China fail, we're all in trouble. China for its part requires vast and increasing amounts of energy to sustain its growth, which is why it has invested so heavily in the Tar Sands. Indeed, the Tar Sands are quite likely critical to maintaining some degree of economic stability in West.
The pressure on the globalizationistas in European and North American capitals, let alone Beijing must be massive. To a large extent they need a person like Harper, more than happy to crush opposition and remove regulatory barriers, in the driver's seat here to ensure that access to bitumen be maintained.
It's an awful scenario and taken as a whole, makes the entire global economy look like one big oil-fueled speculative bubble...