Natural Limits? Was: Re Peter Grimes interviewonIndymedia/Marxists economy

dmschanoes dmschanoes at
Sun Nov 9 10:11:20 MST 2003

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jon Flanders" <jonathan.flanders at>

Sure, the decline of North Sea oil was pushed out by technology, but
 decline it did.
No, Jon, actually UK production has declined.  Norway's has increased, and
will probably resume its increase with the new fields being brought into
production.  As for the steeper decline--- that has not happened either in
the UK fields.  And the wells are not dry-- there are 50% of the known
reserves still there, but no longer profitable for the massively capitalized
companies  to keep in production-- thus they are being sold to smaller
 As for tar sands, come on, really. That's just what we need. Let's
 destroy a good chunk of Canada in search of Hummer fuel. After all what
 are a few million acres of forest, some caribou and a stray indigenous
 tribe or two, compared to the needs of the Los Angeles auto commuter?

No, Jon your argument, and the Hubbertists, was/is the scarcity, the
inevitable and immediate exhaustion of reserves which no efforts could
reverse.  MY argument was the cost, including the environmental cost.  Your
Hubbertists couldn't give a rat's ass less about caribou, indigenous
peoples, or the birdies in the trees.  The reserves either exist, and it's a
question of cost, or they don't exist and it's the law of entropy.

 As an issue of the Gallon environmental letter points out: " tar sands
strip mine: tar sands is a stripmining operation; it requires of the
stripping  of hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile  ground to get at
the bitumen 40 feet under the surface; forests,  wildlife habitat; and water
sources are ruined. Some operations are
> using underground, in-situ extraction methods that don't require
stripmining, however they pose their own set of groundwater contamination
problems severe water pollution:  tar sands extraction and processing
requires massive amounts  of water for steam-stripping and sand washing;
groundwater and surface water    (quantity) takings are enormous; resulting
oil and phenol contamination are serious for large areas outside just the
area of the tar sands stripmine.severe air
 pollution: direct discharges from the processing and refinery upgrade
facilities, and fugitive emissions, generate major amounts of toxic and
carcinogenic   (cancer-causing) contaminants which spread for miles over
human and animal populations."

See above response.  This is always the case with capitalist economics of
extraction.  But this is not the example of entropy so near and dear to the
Mal-en-thus-iastic depletionists.

 You can go on and on about the supposed decline in oil production costs,
which in some cases might be true, although it would be hard to make the
case that Russian costs will ever be as low as Saudi.

Of course.  But wait a minute-- you are now agreeing with me that the issue
is cost?   Several days ago you were of the opinion that the collapse of the
USSR was the result of reserve depletion.

 But tell me, how do the costs of US military interventions around theworld
in places like the Middle East and Columbia factor into your equations?

Excellent point.  Excellent because it was my point from the beginning.
That these interventions are dictated by cost and profit, by exchange value,
and not scarcity of an use value.  If for example the threat of US
intervention in Iraq, and the actual intervention, work to keep oil prices
high, and high for all parties including the US, what does that do to theory
that the war is triggered by a scarcity of oil, the desire to bring prices
down for the US?
> Finally you get down to it. We need energy to enjoy what progress we have
Absolutely.  And not just WE, everybody will require access to greater
energy resources to eliminate hunger, exploitation, illiteracy, unsafe
water, poor sanitary conditions.

 If we are to survive with anything close to the level of material
development some in the advanced capitalist world enjoy, as Heinberg points
out in the article entitled "The Petroleum Plateau", we need to start thinking about
using what fossil fuels that remain wisely, in order to create a more sane
and sustainable energy future.
1. I have not  said anything against that argument.  2. That is not the
argument of our Mal-en-thus-iastic depletionists who state the end is near,
or pretty near, or getting pretty near, and we can do nothing, or almost
nothing, or pretty near almost nothing in the face of this immutable law. 3.
What does this have to do with Grimes' or Harvey's original misinformed
arguments about the causes of the current world situation?
 Now I have to go throw another stick in the woodstove. Hoping I can keep
the natural gas furnace off for another week.
 And me?  I'll be taking the 4 train to  work, to oversee a public
transportation common carrier, using computers all the while, and planning
an after work snack of toro, from the Mediterranean blue fin stock, which
has not shown a significant pattern of decline.  Uh..Jon, if you're wearing
Polarfleece to keep warm-- that's petroleum based.


PLEASE clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.

More information about the Marxism mailing list