[Marxism] Re Peak Oil

David Walters dwalters at marxists.org
Sat Oct 15 10:52:29 MDT 2005

Well, even though Mark Jones is not around, this is shaping up to be  
an excellent discussion. By and large I agree with Rod on most of  
what he states.

There are three issues:

1. How much oil/Fossil fuel is there actually left?

2. How does society proceed from here given that fossil fuel  
*currently* is limited in cost and access and has tremendous  
environmental consequences if it continues to develop as is.

3. The 800lbs gorilla in the room: nuclear power.

Interesting observation: I'm glad Rod believes that global warming  
exists...20 years ago he was polemicizing against the concept due to  
inadequate and faulty computer modeling.

On point one...clearly China has no intention of slowing down it's  
burning of fossil fuel. It's trying to secure petroleum from various  
sources for this from Alberta to Venezuela to Africa. Just like scrap  
and finished steel two years ago, this will create shortages of  
supply for a long time, regardless of the price.(at one point China  
was buy ALL the scrap steel in the entire planet).

Clearly the Canadian tar sands (and Venezueluan heavy crude AND tar  
sands) (environmental and political consequences notwithstanding)  
represent *huundreds of billions* (not millions Jon) of recoverable  
barrels of oil. Clearly coal, which is used now to produced about 1/2  
of all US megawatts, is essentially unlimited. The industry (energy  
industry) is now arguing that coal will become *cleaner than natural*  
gas in the near future (unexplained, I read the industry magazines,  
and while it's asserted, it remains unproven). Methal Hydrates. Rod  
had referred to these a few years ago and they are real, and massive,  
but will take new forms of engineering to extract them. They are  
cleaner than coal or oil. There are about 10 times the amount of this  
form of methane than regular forms of natural gas.

The problem is not how to get to all these things, it's what happens  
if we do: global warming, wars for resources urged on by the  
corporations, etc. That's point No. 2.

Point 3 are Nukes. Louis P. pointed out that the Militant has changed  
it's position on Nukes. I asked my local SWP contact and he confirms  
this: they are now pro-nuke. Quite the reversal. Truth be told, I've  
also been considering a change of my own position on this based on  
the increase in relative safety the industry has been forced to  
develop since 3 Mile Island and Chernobyll. Everything from waster  
management to the fission process and, a truly genuine good safety  
record since then. The German, Swedish and French nuke industries are  
amazingly safe and they produce no greenhouse gases. The French have  
developed a form of "glassification" of nuclear wastes. It looks  
interesting and we, as Marxists, are duty bound to at least look at  
this seriously for reconsideration.

David Walters

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