(fwd from John Enyang) RE: merits of this discussion

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Mon Nov 10 21:06:43 MST 2003


DMS writes:
>
> Certainly oil is finite-- but if production, extraction, and the reserve
> estimating process are historical functions-- dependent on economics and
> technology-- then we have to focus our attention away from the unknown--
> absolute reserves, and back to the known-- the historical, economic, the
> social determinants of capitalist production.
>

Oil reserves are finite, and this may have implications, but whatever
these implications may be, they need not detain us as the remaining
reserves are not known in "absolute" terms.

Likewise, we do not know "absolutely" the amount of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere, any more than we know "absolutely" the effect that this
increasing concentration of carbon may have on Earth's climate.

Therefore, as geology, biology, thermodynamics and other natural sciences
rarely provide such "absolute" information as we may seek, and scientific
understanding of nature is necessarily incomplete we have to focus our
attention away from the "unknown" and back to the "known".

Now of course, unlike knowlege of the natural sciences, which is always
partial and incomplete, "the historical, economic, the social determinants
of capitalist production" referred to by DMS above are well understood,
and perhaps even understood absolutely.

This distinction between the "known" and the "unknown", two very useful
concepts so carefully elucidated and theorised for us above by DMS, makes
it all the more important that partial and incomplete knowlege about such
quantites as the magnitude of remaining oil reserves and the social or
environmental consequences of their use to sidetrack this important
discussion any further.

je





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