[Marxism] Re Peak Oil

Rod Holt rholt at planeteria.net
Fri Oct 14 19:59:32 MDT 2005

Louis's source (Oct. 14, 3:23 pm PST) is Richard Heinberg, who is very 
far from reliable, in my opinion. The article is in the Fall 2003 issue 
of Earth Island Journal and titled "End of the Oil Age."

Heinberg's outlook can be seen most directly in his book "Powerdown," 
New Society Publishers, 2004. Therein, he advocates building *life 
boats* where the historical division of labor is reversed inside remote 
communities. This is a sort of hippyish-utopian scheme where 
de-industrialization is carefully carried out so that the bennies of 
21st century science remain (somehow). It is also maintained that the 
now-existing 6 billion people who are prevented from this idyllic estate 
by sickness, poverty, imperialist domination, etc. can go straight to 
hell without stopping at Go nor collecting $200.

This apocalyptic Malthusian can also be read through his "Muse Letters" 
on line. Number 159 contains a soft version of his beliefs. For example:

    ...Food is energy. And it takes energy to get food. These two facts,
    taken together, have always established the biological limits to the
    human population and always will.
    ... food must yield more energy to the eater than is needed in order
    to acquire the food.
    ...Therefore, even with clever refinements in tools and techniques,
    in crops development and animal breeding, it was inevitable that
    humans would reach a point of diminishing returns in their ability
    to continue increasing their energy harvest, and therefore the size
    of their population.

Then he observes that "sustainable agriculture" which does not consume 
fossil fuels is knowledge and labor intensive; without an extensive 
fossil fuel transportation system, a fossil fuel driven commercial and 
home refrigeration system, etc., people will have to live close to the 
farm. Very large cities are impossible. Ultimately, he states, "Even 
though it may not be politically correct in many circles to discuss the 
population problem, we must recognize that we are nearing or past 
fundamental natural limits, no matter which course we pursue." In fact, 
Heinberg thinks we are far past the sustainable population--by, say, a 
factor of four.

Unfortunately, Heinberg think we have almost no time to 
de-industrialize; that the masses in the industrial countries are too 
short sighted, too ignorant, and too slow to adopt new forms of social 
organization. Therefore they must be led, by the nose, if necessary, by 
the philosopher-scientist king.
[some of these conclusions are my own.]


robert montgomery wrote:

>If Louis' source is correct then the Canadians, Chinese and the
>petrogiants would have to be as stupid as they are greedy. Since the
>HTML link I sent in the last post doesn't work I'm sending Krauss'
>article. Aside from the debateable matter of exactly how much
>extractable oil exists in Alberta, the environmental devastation of
>this development which Louis points up and Krauss describes, is

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