re Jose's remarks

M A Jones jones118 at
Mon Jun 12 00:52:56 MDT 2000

far from my belieiving that the backroom boys have 1000 mpg cars waiting to
roll out and all the other technical fixes science fiction dreams of, I am
quite sure thay don't have any answers at all, which is what I keep on

On Caspian; If the most optimistic forecasts (which are certainly orders of
magnitude too optimistic) DID turn oput corect, that would postpone the
Hubbert world peak by three-6 months, so Caspian oil is not going to save
the capitalist world; and your ideas that they can somehow pump out
another 5-10% of oil from depeleted well, if
the price is right, shows you have'nt yet grasped the main point, which is
that they cannot, FOR TECHNICAL REASONS,
and that trying to do so actually only turns the depeltion curve
into a fall off a cliff (as happened in the USSR). This is a TRAP and
CAPITALISM HAS NO WAY OUT. But I'm just now preparing some postings with
much more hard data and hard science in it, so more later.
I think you need to check again your figures about which GHG's do what, btw.

On why coal becomes - I didn;t say uncompetitive, I said *uneconomic* to
extract, the reason is that because it already requires 40% of the caloric
energy obtained by mining coal, to do the extraction work *and
that 40% is oil* which runs the machinerey, exccavators,
transport etc. We are not living in
the age of Newcomen. By 2040 it will take more energy to get out a tonne of
coal than there is in a tonne of coal. By 2050 the US coal industry
will be as dead as the US oil industry.But don't take my word for it. There
is stuff all over the Net now on this, and I'm gonne by substantiating what
I say in future postings.

Yes, better cladding and building design etc etc can save huge amounts of
THAT is the isues, not what kind of pv's and double glazing to install.

I'll be writing more.

Mark Jones
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jose G. Perez" <jgperez at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2000 3:43 AM
Subject: Re: re Jose's remarks

> Mark,
>     Probably most top climatologists would say they suspect the
> frequency/intensity of el niño is tied into CO2 forced global climate
> but will readily admit they do not know how.
>     Your discussion of the oil "peaking" is very interesting, and makes
> sense. I have, of course, some doubts about your timetable, but that we're
> at or close to the peak potential daily production makes sense. Two things
> will I think ameliorate this somewhat, one being that certain political,
> social and economic factors "artificially" so to speak limit production in
> some places (or viewed another way, given the right price, there's a 5 or
> percent increase in output to be had from the wells: less downtime for
> maintenance, and so on); second, there are new discoveries that apparently
> are fairly significant out in the Caspian Sea or something and, depending
> the size, its rising curve would tend to counteract some of the downward
> pressure, as will the sudden rediscovery of all the good aspects of the
> Iraqi and other oil producing regimes that are currently on the "outs".
>     But on crude oil, as opposed to fossil fuels as a whole, I think the
> *tendency*  you point to is undoubtedly correct.
>     That is why, I believe, the big auto manufacturers have their
> hyper-efficient (by today's standards) hybrid vehicles pretty much ready
> go, if I understand correctly. I do believe the capitalists have the
> capacity to adapt (to a certain degree), and I have now doubt about their
> capacity to make Suburban Assault Vehicles or whatever they're called
> extremely UNattractice overnight to the American population. The "need"
> speed, size, armor plating, etc. etc. etc. has been quite deliberately and
> systematically MANUFACTURED. It will be all the easier because, for once,
> what the adverts are saying will make some kind of sense.
>     So I think the capitalists can, probably not without significant
> disruption, adapt to the new circumstances. I *suspect* you believe this
> also insofar as crude itself is concerned; which is why you insist on
> arguing that you can't simply substitute coal for oil. That part of your
> argument I don't follow at all.
>     Obviously, things like turning coal into a liquid fuel are
> but it seems to me in a LOT of applications coal and oil can easily trade
> places over time, basically in electricity generating and heating
> applications. (I'm kind of including natural gas in the "oil" here since I
> do believe that in a good number of transport applications, especially
> operations, oil and gas could be made to be interchangeable. So gas would
> replace gasoline & diesel; coal would replace a number of gas
> Prices would rise but, at least in the U.S., this impact would be greatly
> ameliorated over time by doubling, tripling or quadrupling the "energy
> efficiency" of vehicles, heating and cooling, and so on. Builders today in
> the U.S., for example, no longer place great stress on the energy
> of a home. But it can make a TREMENDOUS difference in energy consumption.
>     Heatpump and heatpump/baseboard systems which are completely
> (and thus easily converted to being coal-driven) are quite sufficient
> much of the eastern seaboard and thoughout the south, provided dwellings
> built right.
>     So I was intrigued by your comment that as oil prices rise, coal
> non-competitive, and at $100/barrel, you might as well leave it in the
> ground. This is so utterly counter-intuitive that I assume you have some
> sort of explanation for it, which I'm dying to hear.
> José
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mark Jones" <jones118 at>
> To: <marxism at>
> Sent: Saturday, June 10, 2000 5:58 AM
> Subject: RE: re Jose's remarks
> Jose G. Perez wrote:
> >
> >     You asserted quite flatly that el Niño was a "global-warming event."
> Don't forget we've gone round the course a few times before on this list;
> think must of us know by now that El Nino is a very old phenomenon, known
> generations of fishermen as its name implies (the Christ-child; it comes
> around Xmas time). It's what's happened to it that's a GW event, but I
> you don't accept even that. The evidence about the intensification of El
> Nino events and the increasing frequency of them is as clear as anything
> be in the world of climatology - try to find me a serious and/or
> authoritative scientist who is prepared to flatly state that GW has
> to do with enhanced El Ninos and I'll find you 20 who say the opposite.
> you won't find even one, except perhaps Fred Singer.
> >     Then you quote the statement about how a rise of 2-7 degrees
> > centigrade
> > in temperature would be bigger change than anything scientists are able
> > document following the end of the last ice age, a statement to which,
> > reasons I can't fathom, you attach tremendous importance. I suggest you
> > re-read it. It does not say such a change WILL happen; it says IF it
> > happen it would be a big change.
> Well, that statement was from the NOAA, and the point about it, as they
> abundantly clear and as everyone does who comments, such extremely large
> AVERAGE temperature swings indicate extreme climate volatility. You seem
> think that this is a game of chance where a specific outcome like say
> rolling a six may happen or may not; but the whole point is that the
> probability of such unprecedented average temp increases is so high it
> borders on certainty. Repeating , 'yeah but iy may not happen' like a
> doesn't help. Sunday may not happen but I'm guessing it will.
> >
> >     As for priesthoods and so forth and so on, you are quite wide of the
> > mark. The scientists involved in these research projects, as far as I've
> > been able to determine, are not ideologues but people devoted to
> > dispassionate scientific investigation as best they understand
> > it.
> Look, I've taken the trouble to make contact with some of these scientists
> and even met them, both here and in the states, and all of them without
> exception that I've met are MUCH more worried than they are able to say in
> their published materials (sometimes it's not worry, it's plain fear),
> what's happening to the climate. They simply are not able to say what they
> think in peer-reviewed articles and reports. Make the same effort
> meet some or email some and you'll see what I mean. They mostly work for
> government institutions and big govt does have a quite different agenda:
> minimise or even deny the immediacy of the threat posed by GW. The
> is between the powerful people in govt behind outfits like the NOAA or the
> Planck Institute or Hadley Centre, and the scientists on the front line of
> research. I'd say this is a class divide, and one where scientists are
> increasingly not prepared to water down or dilute their message; but at
> same time they are bound by their own methods and the peer-review process
> and by their positon as career-scientists  to make no statements which are
> not strictly within the limits of their findings.
> >    It is a mistake to view this material as some sort of  politicized
> > "report" by the NOAA or NASA or anything else like that.
> Of course it's all politicised: Nasa in particular has been doing
> contortions about it's remarkable remote sensing work for years now,
> on the one hand it gives them something to shout about (the satellite
> techology is amazing)  when many people think they should be shut down,
> on the other hand they can't sound too strong about the dangers of GW
> either, because they are a part of the Pentagon, the military-industrial
> complex which has created the problem.
> Jose, you go onto comment about the alleged 95% fossil fuel still 'in the
> ground'. Our discussion about oil reserves and what reserves in general
> is obviously at a preliminary stage. Believe me, it won't only be your
> friend who is unable to shed much light. Nevertheless there is much light
> which can be shed, and I suggest you for example read as much of Colin
> Campbell as you can find, there's lots at, or,
> there is a Laherrere paper archived at the Crashlist site (go to
> and look in the Files) and there are plenty of others who disagree and are
> more optimistic like industry guru Daniel Yergin who just reported at
> to the Congress his more upbeat assessment of prices/reserves (see, I try
> be objective). Check out the Simmons url I gave you:
> This is a 5-minute read, but worth reading to the end, by a really well
> respected Houston oil man.
> But the long and short of the history of Big Oil is this: there was around
> 2000 gb of conventional recoverable oil in the ground when the oil
> began. We've about used half. The oil is found in many reservoirs, some
> some small, but they all deplete in the same way: production rises until
> halfway point (ie half the oil in situ has been pumped out) and then
> production declines in line with reserves. This means you can't keep
> increasing the output regardless of the state of remaining reserves. There
> are geological resons why production for any given field looks like a
> which rises to a peak and then declines. At the begiining, there is no
> production and all the producable reserves are intact; at the end there is
> also no production, and no more producable reserves left. Now it i's
> possible  (and all the oil corps and govts do this) to model the entire
> global reserve as if it were one big oil field, and to model the whole
> history of Big Oil as a rising curve, which at some point will peak and
> beyond that point, depletion will go hand in hand  with falling
> Thus, at the mid-point half the recoverable oil will still be left in the
> ground -- but production will stall to fall, this is irreversible,
> unavoidable and is to do with the physics of oil reservoirs. Campbell and
> others argue that world oil production will peak before the year 2005 and
> may already have peaked. Thus, from now on world production will begin a
> decline; therre may be small spikes up and down within it, there may be
> plateaus followed by accelerated declines, but in the end the actual
> and troughs will all map onto a curve.
> Given the facts about energy and world dependency on oil, this means that
> (a) any hope of material development and industrialisation happening in
> non-metropolitan countries - ie pretty much everywhere outside EuroAmerica
> and Japan, is pure illusion. Economies will decline (as many already are).
> Development is a myth. (b) nothing can prevent future oil shocks and they
> will be much more severe than 1973. (c) unless some new technology can be
> found to replace oil, capitalism cannot avoid the worst slump and general
> crisis in its entire history. There are plenty of alternatives, fission
> fusion nuclear, hydrogen, methanol, photovoltaics, windpower, geothermals,
> hydropower - but all have crippling drawbacks, or are just never gonna
> happen anyhow. None of the alternatives have oil's specific
> characteristics -ease of use, high caloric content, high net energy (it
> costs a barrel of oil to produce just over a barrel of ethanol form
> but a barrel of oil invested in oil production will produce 20 more
> of oil - this is a hugey critical equation for capitalism as a whole). Oil
> has fungibility, is good for transport, good feedstock for agriculture,
> industry etc etc.
> Coal is a separate and a very interesting issue. But the bottom line of
> is this (you ain't gonna like it, I know): if oil prices reach $100 a
> plus, then it will not be efficient to extract coal, and a ton of coal
> contain almost no net energy. You won't agree with this, I'm sure, but
> talk more, I hope. The US coal industry will never become the basis for
> capitalist production again, and will probably decline within 40 years. By
> that time there will hardly be a tree left standing anywhere, of course.
> >     As for their being a more specific crude oil shortage, it seems to
> > you miss the main point, which is that the "shortage" in the 70's and
> > situation today is a function of a fight by third world countries
> > to obtain
> > better terms of trade, not of some lack of crude in the ground or
> > a huge gap
> > in the installed capacity to extract and refine it.
> They like to tell us this, but it is not so. Of course, the physical
> production of oil occurs withion a geopolitical conjuncture and that can
> 'dramatise' an underlying reality the way the Opec actions dramatised oil
> shortages in the early 70s. But the underlying reality was that US oil
> production reached its Hubbert peak in the early 1970s and has been
> declining rapidly ever since; what saved capitalism then was the lucky
> chance of finding large new non-Opec reserves, in the N Sea and elsewhere.
> These gigantic reserves have been depeleted by 80% in less than 30 years -
> one adult lifetime. And that is why it's become an issue again.
> Mark
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