Category Archives: Peak oil

The near-term maximum output (or “peak”) of conventional oil, or of “all liquids.”

Degrowth and Veganism

"Degrowth" is something natural and beautiful

“Degrowth” is something natural and beautiful

How can we deal with climate change, let alone peak oil, water shortages, deforestation, and everything else — given that truly effective environmental action would probably stop the economy from growing and totally change everyone’s lifestyle?

Our whole economy depends on fossil fuels, and our livestock-centered agricultural system is pillaging the earth’s biosphere. Veganism is surely part of the needed approach here. Continue reading

This Changes Everything — Review

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein. Simon & Schuster, 2014.

For Naomi Klein, the climate change issue changes everything: the only way to deal with climate change is to change capitalism. We need fundamentally to alter our economic system if we hope to save the planet. Her analysis is spot on and I hope that climate change activists and vegans will study and benefit from this book. The only criticism I would have is not that it is too radical, but that it isn’t radical enough. Continue reading

God is not going to put more oil in the ground

There has been a huge drop in oil prices since last July. Many environmentalists don’t know what to make of this. Some are saying that the fall of prices should get us to rethink the “flawed” argument for peak oil, or that it will “destroy the green revolution,” or that it reflects the “existential crisis” of the environmentalists. Earth First! has chimed in as well. How can there be a shortage of oil, if prices are falling? Continue reading

Peak oil may be almost here

“Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.” This aphorism is nowhere more applicable than when predicting the date of “peak oil” — the maximum point of world oil production. In case you hadn’t noticed, oil prices are falling dramatically. Until about six months ago, oil (“West Texas Intermediate”) had hovered for several years in the region of $100 a barrel, reaching $107 on July 23. But by last Friday (December 12), it was below $60. If we’re close to peak oil, and oil is getting scarce, shouldn’t the price be going up? What happened, and why?

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Are the Economists Hopeless on Environmental Issues?

The world has serious problems, such as climate change, peak oil, and resource depletion generally. Economists should be leading the charge on these types of issues, but except for the very few “ecological economists,” like Herman Daly, they say increasingly strange things about a parallel world which seems to have only a tangential relationship to the one in which we actually live.

A case in point is the recent book The Climate Casino (2013) by William Nordhaus. His book is quite insightful on several levels. The Climate Casino is a disturbing book, but unfortunately some of what makes it disturbing is not intentional on the part of the author.

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Al Gore is Vegan

Methane is a lot worse than we thought, but there is some good news about the climate as well, already well publicized. Al Gore has gone vegan. In the past many people have complained about Gore’s lack of interest in combating a key cause of climate change. Well, now our hopes have been realized: Gore is a vegan. The “revelation” has been confirmed by The Washington Post.

This is a hugely interesting fact about which quite a bit of ink has already been spilled. The most interesting facet of this story is how amazingly little we know about Gore’s veganism. Continue reading

“Limits to Growth” and the Shutdown

The BP oil spill

Drama! Don’t you love it! The debt ceiling and government shutdown debates illustrate that what the government lacks in problem-solving ability, it makes up for in entertainment value. The government is running again, the debt limit has been raised, and once again things are back to “normal,” whatever that is.  But the problem has not been solved, because the real problem has no solution. This is a “limits to growth” issue which no political leader has acknowledged even exists. Continue reading

Anthony Marr

Anthony Marr

We went to hear Anthony Marr last Monday night.  He spoke on “How to Save Planet Earth.”  Anthony Marr is unusual in the vegan community because, unlike most vegans, he has a scientific background and clearly understands the whole problem of peak oil, climate change, and economic collapse. He made a number of points, but here are three points he made that I thought were especially significant: latent heat, the most poisonous substance, and economic collapse. Continue reading


Romney and Obama debate

The second debate between Obama and Romney demonstrated that both are clueless over the most critical issues facing the country and planet earth: those concerning the environment.  Do we really have another four years to fiddle away while climate change and resource depletion continue their march forward, and we have a President who doesn’t understand the basic nature of the problem? Continue reading

Why Isn’t “Peak Oil” Catching On?

Oil rigOil discoveries have been declining for decades.  We now consume much more oil than we discover.  Despite the fact that the price of oil is now over $100 a barrel, oil production hasn’t really budged since 2005.  There’s an obvious explanation for all this: we face an imminent peak in world oil production because of fundamental geological limits.  The implications of this for our society are enormous and unprecedented.

And yet there is only minimal awareness of “peak oil” in the general public, and zero political discussion.  Why isn’t “peak oil” catching on? Continue reading

EcoMind Thought Trap #3

EcoMind: changing the way we think, to create the world we want. Frances Moore Lappé. New York: Nation Books, 2011.

In EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappé sets out seven “thought traps” which she seeks to defeat and replace with better ways of thinking.  Earlier, I dealt with Thought Trap #1.

Lappé is an engaging, chatty writer with some considerable influence.  I agree with a lot of what she says in this book.  That’s why I’m giving her a hard time about the few points on which we do not agree.  Thought Trap #3 is a case in point. Continue reading

EcoMind Thought Trap #1

EcoMind: changing the way we think, to create the world we want. Frances Moore Lappé. New York: Nation Books, 2011.

In EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappé (most notably of Diet for a Small Planet fame, written in 1971) sets out seven “thought traps” which she seeks to defeat and replace with better ways of thinking. In this essay I am going to deal just with the first of these thought traps, and probably the most important, concerning the “growth” issue.

She expresses the first thought trap as follows:

“Endless growth is destroying our beautiful planet, so we must shift to no-growth economies.” Continue reading

Interview: Why the environmental issue is important for vegans

Last January 21, the KPOV show “All Things Vegan” aired an interview of me in which we discussed a number of issues, the most important of which is why the environmental issue is important for vegans. The following clip gives the segment of the show which interviews me (it’s about 17½ minutes long).  Click the picture below to listen to the interview.


Is a Steady State Economy Possible?


Xeric Garden in spring

Gail Tverberg, whose blog “Our Finite World” is one of my favorites (along with Juan Cole’s “Informed Comment”), recently wrote a blog titled “There is No Steady State Economy (except at a very basic level).” She contends that while a steady state economy is an interesting concept, it is not a viable because the level at which we could actually achieve a steady state is so low. Even several notches below today’s economy is still not sustainable. A true “steady state economy” would seem to mean a decline at least to the industrial level of about the year 1750. Tverberg concludes, “those wanting a steady state are dreaming for something that can never happen. Decline is pretty much inevitable.” Continue reading