Trump is slated to become our new Overlord, and a lot of people are really nervous, with good reason. I hope that people take care not to trample each other as they stampede toward the exits. Immediately after the election, the papers reported that so many people were asking about immigration to Canada that the Canadian immigration web site crashed. On top of that, there is now a movement for California independence. They are proposing to do it entirely legally and peacefully, via a California referendum and amending the U. S. constitution. Continue reading
The Oracle of Oil: A Maverick Geologist’s Quest for a Sustainable Future. By Mason Inman. W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.
M. King Hubbert was a prophetic 20th century American oil geologist best known for his predictions about peak oil — the maximum rate of oil production. But the people who claim to “refute” Hubbert have usually not even understood what he was saying. He expressed his views in various technical papers and writings, in lectures, and in private conversations — in short, in his life. Mason Inman has written the first and so far the only full-length biography of Hubbert. It is absolutely essential to anyone who wants to understand what Hubbert was about, which can only be done by looking at his life and thinking as a whole. Continue reading
A couple of months ago the Denver Post ran an editorial, “The death knell for ‘peak oil.’” The Post editorial stated that at a 2009 conference in Denver, peak oil theorists predicted that spot shortages would “blow up prices, shock economies and destabilize governments”; but now collapsing prices and a world “awash” in oil had refuted these ideas, and “peak oil worries have been laid to rest.” (Jan. 21, 2016).
Oh, really? Let’s take a look. Continue reading
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
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
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
“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?
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.
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
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
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
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
Oil 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
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
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