User Tools

Site Tools


the_partys_over

Differences

This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

Link to this comparison view

the_partys_over [2010/01/20 02:31]
will created
the_partys_over [2010/11/18 12:00] (current)
Line 1: Line 1:
-**//The Party'​s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies// by Richard Heinberg, 2005 (2nd ed). Sussex: Clairview**+**//[[wp>​The_Party'​s_Over:​_Oil,​_War,​_and_the_Fate_of_Industrial_Societies|The Party'​s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies]]// by [[wp>Richard Heinberg]], 2005 (2nd ed). Sussex: Clairview** 
 + 
 +An [[http://​www.postcarbon.org/​files/​EndOfOilBooklet_0.pdf|alternative synopsis]] is provided by the Post Carbon Institute on [[http://​www.postcarbon.org/​|their website]]. 
  
 ====== Energy, Nature and Society ====== ====== Energy, Nature and Society ======
  
-Ecology is the study of the way in which species interact with their environments and other species. ​ Humans conform neatly ​into standard ecological patterns; it is therefore possible to view social sciences in a sense as a subset of ecology, and to examine human society in the context of ecology'​s basic rules. ​ In this context it is useful to explain a few concepts:+Ecology is the study of the way in which species interact with their environments and other species. ​ Humans conform neatly ​to standard ecological patterns; it is therefore possible to view social sciences in a sense as a subset of ecology, and to examine human society in the context of ecology'​s basic rules. ​ In this context it is useful to explain a few concepts:
   - **Carrying capacity**: the number of members of a species (population load) that a given set of resources can support.   - **Carrying capacity**: the number of members of a species (population load) that a given set of resources can support.
   - **Climax phase**: this is the stable state of ecological systems, in which all species have coevolved in order to exploit available resources with the greatest possible efficiency. ​ Typically, in this phase, //​competition has been eliminated//​. ​ Where multiple species previously competed for a scarce resource, in the climax phase either all but one species has been eliminated or all species have evolved so as to stably exploit the same resource without infringing upon one another (eg by feeding at different times or in different areas). ​ In many cases, species will develop means of regulating their own populations other than through starvation of surplus members (such as becoming infertile when food supplies are not plentiful).(("​The urge to form partnerships,​ to link up in collaborative arrangements,​ is perhaps the oldest, strongest, and most fundamental force in nature. ​ There are no solitary, free-living creatures, every form of life is dependent on other forms."​ ---Lewis Thomas, quoted in Augros and Stanciu, //The New Biology//, p118.))   - **Climax phase**: this is the stable state of ecological systems, in which all species have coevolved in order to exploit available resources with the greatest possible efficiency. ​ Typically, in this phase, //​competition has been eliminated//​. ​ Where multiple species previously competed for a scarce resource, in the climax phase either all but one species has been eliminated or all species have evolved so as to stably exploit the same resource without infringing upon one another (eg by feeding at different times or in different areas). ​ In many cases, species will develop means of regulating their own populations other than through starvation of surplus members (such as becoming infertile when food supplies are not plentiful).(("​The urge to form partnerships,​ to link up in collaborative arrangements,​ is perhaps the oldest, strongest, and most fundamental force in nature. ​ There are no solitary, free-living creatures, every form of life is dependent on other forms."​ ---Lewis Thomas, quoted in Augros and Stanciu, //The New Biology//, p118.))
Line 11: Line 14:
  
 There are five main means by which a species can increase the amount of resources (particularly energy) which it appropriates for itself, thereby enabling it to increase its population. ​ Various species use one or two or these strategies; human beings have mastered the use of all five. There are five main means by which a species can increase the amount of resources (particularly energy) which it appropriates for itself, thereby enabling it to increase its population. ​ Various species use one or two or these strategies; human beings have mastered the use of all five.
-  - **Takeover**:​ most obviously, a species can displace other forms of life so as to steal their resources. ​ In the transition of human beings from hunter-gatherer through horticulture to agriculture,​ humans displaced many species of plant and animal so as to use land to provide energy for humans only.  Later, groups of human beings increasingly displaced other communities of its own species.+  - **Takeover**:​ most obviously, a species can displace other forms of life so as to steal their resources. ​ In the transition of human beings from hunter-gatherer through horticulture to agriculture,​ humans displaced many species of plant and animal so as to use land to provide energy for humans only.  Later, groups of human beings increasingly displaced other communities of their own species.
   - **Tool use**: tools greatly increase humans'​ (and a few other species'​) ability to exploit resources. ​ Tools take four forms:   - **Tool use**: tools greatly increase humans'​ (and a few other species'​) ability to exploit resources. ​ Tools take four forms:
     - //those created by human energy for use with human energy//, such as flint axes, bows and arrows;     - //those created by human energy for use with human energy//, such as flint axes, bows and arrows;
Line 17: Line 20:
     - //those created with human energy for use with external power//, such as a steel plough;     - //those created with human energy for use with external power//, such as a steel plough;
     - //those created with external energy for use with external power//, such as electrical goods. ​ As humans developed, these latter types have become increasingly important, especially IV.     - //those created with external energy for use with external power//, such as electrical goods. ​ As humans developed, these latter types have become increasingly important, especially IV.
-  - **Specialisation**:​ closely related to tool use.  Tools can be viewed as a type of prosthetic, enabling human beings to create human-tool complexes which are similar to '​different species'​ of human. ​ This suggests the idea of viewing a human community as an ecological network inside an ecological network: different '​species'​ of human-tool complexes develop in cooperation with one another in a way analogous to the evolution of complementary species in a natural system.  ​Human'increasing ability to use tools lead to a perhaps obvious extension of the concept: that of using other human beings as tools. ​ This began with the institution of slavery, but once money had been developed as a further tool for organising cooperation and specialisation then humans could be used as instruments of others'​ purposes through wage labour.(("​Just as the use of tools has affected our collective psychology, so has specialisation. ​ With a lifelong division of labour, many members of society became cut off from basic subsistence activities and processes; rather than enjoying a direct relationship with the natural world, they became, for their material existence, dependent on the society'​s economic distribution system. ​ This subtly fostered attitudes of conformity and subordination while undermining feels of personal confidence and competence."​ (p28.)))+  - **Specialisation**:​ closely related to tool use.  Tools can be viewed as a type of prosthetic, enabling human beings to create human-tool complexes which are similar to '​different species'​ of human. ​ This suggests the idea of viewing a human community as an ecological network inside an ecological network: different '​species'​ of human-tool complexes develop in cooperation with one another in a way analogous to the evolution of complementary species in a natural system.  ​Humans' increasing ability to use tools leads to a perhaps obvious extension of the concept: that of using other human beings as tools. ​ This began with the institution of slavery, but once money had been developed as a further tool for organising cooperation and specialisation then humans could be used as instruments of others'​ purposes through wage labour.(("​Just as the use of tools has affected our collective psychology, so has specialisation. ​ With a lifelong division of labour, many members of society became cut off from basic subsistence activities and processes; rather than enjoying a direct relationship with the natural world, they became, for their material existence, dependent on the society'​s economic distribution system. ​ This subtly fostered attitudes of conformity and subordination while undermining feels of personal confidence and competence."​ (p28.) ))
   - **Scope enlargement**:​ by increasing the area over which resources are pooled, local resource shortages can be overcome. ​ For example, if a mineral-rich area lies next to a fertile area, then trade of minerals for food can increase the carrying capacity of both areas.   - **Scope enlargement**:​ by increasing the area over which resources are pooled, local resource shortages can be overcome. ​ For example, if a mineral-rich area lies next to a fertile area, then trade of minerals for food can increase the carrying capacity of both areas.
   - **Drawdown**:​ finally, and most epically, human society has been able to increase the Earth'​s carrying capacity by depleting finite fossil-fuel resources, in intensifying agriculture,​ increasing trade (thus enlarging scope), inventing energy-intensive new tools and increasing specialisation.   - **Drawdown**:​ finally, and most epically, human society has been able to increase the Earth'​s carrying capacity by depleting finite fossil-fuel resources, in intensifying agriculture,​ increasing trade (thus enlarging scope), inventing energy-intensive new tools and increasing specialisation.
Line 23: Line 26:
 ===== Complexity and Collapse ===== ===== Complexity and Collapse =====
  
-Systematic study of 17 historical complex societies provides a few tentative insights into the pattern of collapse of complex, highly ordered social structures. ​ It is postulated that there is a general trend by which societies successfully increase in complexity, earning valuable gains in doing so, but are subject to diminishing returns which eventually become negative, undermining the benefits of complexity, and the society becomes vulnerable to collapse. ​ It is not quite clear why the benefits of complexity shift from diminishing to negative and why increasing complexity does not simply stop when returns to complexity reach zero --- although it's possible that Heinberg is arguing that societies continually face new challenges and that once the returns to complexity have diminished substantially then complexity can no longer be used as a panacea solution to these new challenges.+Systematic study of 17 historical complex societies provides a few tentative insights into the pattern of collapse of complex, highly ordered social structures. ​ It is postulated that there is a general trend by which societies successfully increase in complexity, earning valuable gains in doing so, but are subject to diminishing returns which eventually become negative, undermining the benefits of complexity, and the society becomes vulnerable to collapse. ​ It is not made clear in the text why the benefits of complexity shift from diminishing to negative and why increasing complexity does not simply stop when returns to complexity reach zero --- although it's possible that Heinberg is arguing that societies continually face new challenges and that once the returns to complexity have diminished substantially then complexity can no longer be used as a panacea solution to these new challenges.
  
 > [A] society that has reached this point cannot simply rest on its accomplishments,​ that is, attempt to maintain its marginal return at the status quo, without further deterioration. ​ Complexity is a problem-solving strategy. ​ The problems with which the universe can confront society are, for practical purposes, infinite in number and endless in variety. ---Joseph Tainter, //The Collapse of Complex Societies//,​ 1988 > [A] society that has reached this point cannot simply rest on its accomplishments,​ that is, attempt to maintain its marginal return at the status quo, without further deterioration. ​ Complexity is a problem-solving strategy. ​ The problems with which the universe can confront society are, for practical purposes, infinite in number and endless in variety. ---Joseph Tainter, //The Collapse of Complex Societies//,​ 1988
  
 The reason for the meteoric success of the US in the 19th and 20th Centuries as a preeminent global economic and military power is primarily its resource endowments. ​ These were irrelevant until the Industrial Revolution; until this point they could not be exploited. ​ From the start of the Industrial Revolution, the US had far greater natural resources and far less population pressure on those resources than Europe. ​ Unlike other areas of the world, the US was able to defend itself from European appropriation of those resources, whilst harnessing technology that had originated in Europe. ​ Europe'​s lack of resources, particularly in per capita terms, forced it to seek out mineral and energy wealth from far-flung corners of the world; whereas the US had everything it needed within its own borders, remaining a petroleum exporter until 1943 (perhaps this also explains its early ideological aversion to '​imperialism'​ relative to the European powers?). The reason for the meteoric success of the US in the 19th and 20th Centuries as a preeminent global economic and military power is primarily its resource endowments. ​ These were irrelevant until the Industrial Revolution; until this point they could not be exploited. ​ From the start of the Industrial Revolution, the US had far greater natural resources and far less population pressure on those resources than Europe. ​ Unlike other areas of the world, the US was able to defend itself from European appropriation of those resources, whilst harnessing technology that had originated in Europe. ​ Europe'​s lack of resources, particularly in per capita terms, forced it to seek out mineral and energy wealth from far-flung corners of the world; whereas the US had everything it needed within its own borders, remaining a petroleum exporter until 1943 (perhaps this also explains its early ideological aversion to '​imperialism'​ relative to the European powers?).
-After the exploitation of its own resources became insufficient,​ roughly from the end of the Second World War (US oil extraction peaked in 1970), the US pursued a policy of '​globalisation',​ using its unrivalled military power to gain access to the resources it needed from abroad. ​ This policy of globalisation took a very particular form: it preached that claims on //natural resources// ought to be subject to the free market, such that anybody that could pay the prevailing market price had an inherent //right// to those resources wherever they lay, but that //​technology//​ was proprietary and could not be adopted by countries in which it did not originate (unlike had happened in the earlier US appropriation of European advances). ​ Thus the rules gave the US access to the resources it needed from the rest of the world --- energy and mineral wealth --- whilst denying other regions, particularly developing countries, access to resources which the US had in abundance, particularly technology. ​ This aspect of globalisation,​ and consequentially why so many people around the world find fault with it, is very poorly understood by Americans, whose information is provided principally by corporations with direct or indirect commercial interests in this process of foreign resource exploitation.+After the exploitation of its own resources became insufficient,​ roughly from the end of the Second World War (US oil extraction peaked in 1970), the US pursued a policy of '​globalisation',​ using its unrivalled military power to gain access to the resources it needed from abroad. ​ This policy of globalisation took a very particular form: it preached that claims on //natural resources// ought to be subject to the free market, such that anybody that could pay the prevailing market price had an inherent //right// to those resources wherever they lay, but that //​technology//​ was proprietary and could not be adopted by countries in which it did not originate (contrary to the earlier US appropriation of European advances). ​ Thus the rules gave the US access to the resources it needed from the rest of the world --- energy and mineral wealth --- whilst denying other regions, particularly developing countries, access to resources which the US had in abundance, particularly technology. ​ This aspect of globalisation,​ and consequentially why so many people around the world find fault with it, is very poorly understood by Americans, whose information is provided principally by corporations with direct or indirect commercial interests in this process of foreign resource exploitation.
  
 ====== Party Time: The Historical Interval of Cheap, Abundant Energy ====== ====== Party Time: The Historical Interval of Cheap, Abundant Energy ======
Line 34: Line 37:
 In 400 AD, Europe was 95 per cent woodland, and the European economy relied on wood as its source of energy (wood provided light and heat, animals were used for transport and to work farmland). ​ Population grew steadily, placing increasing pressure on this resource and by 1600 forest coverage had reduced to 20 per cent.  Wood prices increased, and coal became accepted as an increasingly viable alternative. ​ Previously avoided because of the harsher smoke it produces, it was later preferred to wood because of the higher temperature fire it (and coke derived from it) can produce relative to charcoal, which was important in large-scale and high-quality iron and steel production. ​ Very roughly from 1600 to 1900, coal dominated, increasingly used to power manufacturing operations, railway transport and towards the end of the 19th Century, electrical grids. ​ But from 1900, the use of coal waned sharply, replaced by the ascent of oil, which displaced coal in naval transport and introduced new means of road and air transport, also becoming increasingly important in electrical generation. ​ Coal had seriously impacted the shape of modern life, being largely responsible for the move towards industrial wage labour, but the impact of oil was even greater. ​ It primarily impacted three areas: In 400 AD, Europe was 95 per cent woodland, and the European economy relied on wood as its source of energy (wood provided light and heat, animals were used for transport and to work farmland). ​ Population grew steadily, placing increasing pressure on this resource and by 1600 forest coverage had reduced to 20 per cent.  Wood prices increased, and coal became accepted as an increasingly viable alternative. ​ Previously avoided because of the harsher smoke it produces, it was later preferred to wood because of the higher temperature fire it (and coke derived from it) can produce relative to charcoal, which was important in large-scale and high-quality iron and steel production. ​ Very roughly from 1600 to 1900, coal dominated, increasingly used to power manufacturing operations, railway transport and towards the end of the 19th Century, electrical grids. ​ But from 1900, the use of coal waned sharply, replaced by the ascent of oil, which displaced coal in naval transport and introduced new means of road and air transport, also becoming increasingly important in electrical generation. ​ Coal had seriously impacted the shape of modern life, being largely responsible for the move towards industrial wage labour, but the impact of oil was even greater. ​ It primarily impacted three areas:
   - **Agriculture**,​ in which oil-powered machinery displaced animals (which had previously required one third of US farmland to feed them) and the production of nitrogen-based fertilisers (particularly ammonia) which required gas as a source of energy and hydrogen. ​ The use of nitrogen fertilisers doubled the amount of nitrogen available to Earth'​s biomass.   - **Agriculture**,​ in which oil-powered machinery displaced animals (which had previously required one third of US farmland to feed them) and the production of nitrogen-based fertilisers (particularly ammonia) which required gas as a source of energy and hydrogen. ​ The use of nitrogen fertilisers doubled the amount of nitrogen available to Earth'​s biomass.
-  - **Transport**,​ in which the massive subsidies granted road transport saw it displacing rail travel across the industrialised world, but most extremely in the US.  The private cost of running an automobile in America averages approximately US$1500 per year, whereas by "some (unreferenced and unexplained) estimates"​ the total cost to society is $25000 --- one of the main costs being those associated with accidents: since 1900 more Americans have been killed in car accidents than have died in all wars in US history.((Although Heinberg does not add this qualification,​ we are of course only bothering to count the American victims of these wars.)) ​ The interstate highway network cost America more than the Marshall Plan, meanwhile GM and Standard Oil were buying up tram systems across the US and replacing them with diesel-powered buses which were gradually allowed to rust, facilitating ​the US' ultimate dependence on auto and air transport (intercity train services persisted for some time, but ultimately could not compete with the highway subsidy). ​ City planning changed beyond recognition:​ first the trams and then to a much greater extent the automobile fuelled urban sprawl and suburbanisation. ​ Again no citation, but the oil cost per mile or air and car transport is roughly equal. +  - **Transport**,​ in which the massive subsidies granted ​to road transport saw it displacing rail travel across the industrialised world, but most extremely in the US.  The private cost of running an automobile in America averages approximately US$1,500 per year, whereas by "some (unreferenced and unexplained) estimates"​ the total cost to society is $25,​000 ​--- one of the main costs being those associated with accidents: since 1900 more Americans have been killed in car accidents than have died in all wars in US history.((Although Heinberg does not add this qualification,​ we are of course only bothering to count the American victims of these wars.)) ​ The interstate highway network cost America more than the Marshall Plan, meanwhile GM and Standard Oil were buying up tram systems across the US, gradually allowing them to rust whilst ​replacing them with diesel-powered buses.  This facilitated ​the US' ultimate dependence on auto and air transport (intercity train services persisted for some time, but ultimately could not compete with the highway subsidy). ​ City planning changed beyond recognition:​ first the trams and then to a much greater extent the automobile fuelled urban sprawl and suburbanisation. ​ Again no citation, but the oil cost per mile or air and car transport is said to be roughly equal. 
-  - **Warfare**,​ which came increasingly to use oil as a primary ingredient (moving troops, powering tanks and planes) and primary objective (the Germans'​ inability to secure a source of petrol after the Allies blocked their access to Romanian fields was a significant contributor to their surrender; in the Second World War, Poland and Russia were largely sought for their oilfields and the German army crumbled when these were retaken by Russia (no mention of Germany using Standard Oil technology to derive artificial petrol from oil)). ​ As the century progressed, access to and control of oilfields has remained of crucial geopolitical significance,​ especially to the US after it became a net oil importer ​during the 1960s and its production peaked in 1970.+  - **Warfare**,​ which came increasingly to use oil as a primary ingredient (moving troops, powering tanks and planes) and primary objective (the Germans'​ inability to secure a source of petrol after the Allies blocked their access to Romanian fields was a significant contributor to their surrender; in the Second World War, Poland and Russia were largely sought for their oilfields and the German army crumbled when these were retaken by Russia (no mention of Germany using Standard Oil technology to derive artificial petrol from oil)). ​ As the century progressed, access to and control of oilfields has remained of crucial geopolitical significance,​ especially to the US after it came to import ​oil on a large scale during the 1960s and its production peaked in 1970.
    
- Oil was extremely cheap by the early 1970s ($3/barrel) due to large increases in production which were not matched by increases in supply.  In 1973, Egypt initiated a war with Israel in frustration at the unwillingness of Israel to negotiate a settlement concerning lands captured by Israel in 1967.  Egypt used Soviet ground-to-air missiles with success against the Israeli military, but the US intervened to provide more jets; in response the US moved naval forces to the eastern Mediterranean and a settlement was reached to avoid a superpower confrontation. ​ In protest at the US support for Israel, OPEC placed an embargo on the US and raised prices to around $12/​barrel. ​ Inflation soared across the industrial world, leaping again when prices rose to $30/barrel as production was interrupted by the overthrow of the Shah of Iran (with US support as the Shah was dragging his feet in negotiation with the oil majors) and the start of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980.  Once these political turmoil began to settle in the early 1980s prices dropped in 1982 to around $6/​barrel. ​ Inflation came under control and the world economy recovered. ​ Supply rose considerably during the 1980s: Kuwait increased its OPEC quota rather dubiously, Iran cheated in order to pay for its war with Iraq, Britain increased production and the US put pressure on Saudi to do likewise in order to lower prices and deny the USSR the forex it needed to survive. ​ The Carter administration had had a serious commitment to reducing US oil consumption through alternative technologies and less wasteful lifestyles, but all of his policies were reversed by Reagan. ​ After a "​decisive"​ (?!) 1988 victory over Iran, the US gave tacit encouragement to Iraq to invade Kuwait by assuring Saddam Hussein that the US took no position on the ongoing border dispute (Kuwait was slant-drilling Iraqi fields). ​ The Iraqi invasion gave the US a pretext to build permanent bases in Saudi and deploy large troop numbers. ​ Saddam was left in power partly in order to create a "swing state of last resort"​ --- if a new government had been installed then Iraqi production would have recovered and prices would have crashed again, but through a long-term embargo on Iraq moderate prices could be maintained at no cost to US allies (particularly Saudi, that had previously been the swing state, producing less than half of its OPEC quota). ​ As prices began to rise, Iraq was then permitted to export a limited amount of oil under a US-led UN programme.+Oil was extremely cheap by the early 1970s ($3/barrel) due to large increases in production which were not matched by increases in demand.  In 1973, Egypt initiated a war with Israel in frustration at the unwillingness of Israel to negotiate a settlement concerning lands captured by Israel in 1967.  Egypt used Soviet ground-to-air missiles with success against the Israeli military, but the US intervened to provide more jets; in response the USSR moved naval forces to the eastern Mediterranean and a settlement was reached to avoid a superpower confrontation. ​ In protest at the US support for Israel, OPEC placed an embargo on the US and raised prices to around $12/​barrel. ​ Inflation soared across the industrial world, leaping again when prices rose to $30/barrel as production was interrupted by the overthrow of the Shah of Iran (with US support as the Shah was dragging his feet in negotiation with the oil majors) and the start of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980. 
 + 
 +Once this political turmoil began to settle in the early 1980s prices dropped in 1982 to around $6/​barrel. ​ Inflation came under control and the world economy recovered. ​ Supply rose considerably during the 1980s: Kuwait increased its OPEC quota rather dubiously, Iran cheated in order to pay for its war with Iraq, Britain increased production and the US put pressure on Saudi to do likewise in order to lower prices and deny the USSR the forex it needed to survive. ​ The Carter administration had had a serious commitment to reducing US oil consumption through alternative technologies and less wasteful lifestyles, but all of his policies were reversed by Reagan. ​ After a "​decisive"​ (?!) 1988 victory over Iran, the US gave tacit encouragement to Iraq to invade Kuwait by assuring Saddam Hussein that the US took no position on the ongoing border dispute (Kuwait was slant-drilling Iraqi fields). ​ The Iraqi invasion gave the US a pretext to build permanent bases in Saudi and deploy large troop numbers. ​ Saddam was left in power partly in order to create a "swing state of last resort"​ --- if a new government had been installed then Iraqi production would have recovered and prices would have crashed again, but through a long-term embargo on Iraq moderate prices could be maintained at no cost to US allies (particularly Saudi, that had previously been the swing state, producing less than half of its OPEC quota). ​ As prices began to rise, Iraq was then permitted to export a limited amount of oil under a US-led UN programme. 
 Heinberg also argues that the progressive increase in the capital-intensity of US industry shifts the revenue of production from workers to the investor class, who accumulate rather than spend this money, leading to the progressive failure of demand in the US economy. ​ The result has been increasingly frantic attempts to penetrate foreign markets, and progressively intense competition between corporations. Heinberg also argues that the progressive increase in the capital-intensity of US industry shifts the revenue of production from workers to the investor class, who accumulate rather than spend this money, leading to the progressive failure of demand in the US economy. ​ The result has been increasingly frantic attempts to penetrate foreign markets, and progressively intense competition between corporations.
  
Line 47: Line 53:
 ===== The Pessimists ===== ===== The Pessimists =====
  
-This camp is dominated by geologist ​and physical scientists, although for the most part they are retired or work with consultancies or research institutions rather than oil majors or governments (although ​most have long experience working for oil majors and governments). ​ They follow the work of King Hubbert who first developed a technique for predicting the peak output of oil reserves by assuming output would follow a bell-shaped curve derived from frequent empirical observation. ​ In 1956, he used this model to predict the peak of US production would occur between 1966 and 1972 (depending on the URR((Ultimately recoverable resource.))):​ in fact it occurred in 1970.  He went on to predict global peak oil, which he estimated would occur between 1990 and 2000.  He died in 1989.+This camp is dominated by geologists ​and physical scientists, although for the most part they are retired or work with consultancies or research institutions rather than oil majors or governments (yet most have long experience working for oil majors and governments). ​ They follow the work of King Hubbert who first developed a technique for predicting the peak output of oil reserves by assuming output would follow a bell-shaped curve derived from frequent empirical observation. ​ In 1956, he used this model to predict the peak of US production would occur between 1966 and 1972 (depending on the URR((Ultimately recoverable resource.))):​ in fact it occurred in 1970.  He went on to predict global peak oil, which he estimated would occur between 1990 and 2000.  He died in 1989.
  
 Various others have picked up his research and both refined his methods and applied new data.  Using similar techniques, most analysts currently predict peak oil to occur between 2005 and 2010. Various others have picked up his research and both refined his methods and applied new data.  Using similar techniques, most analysts currently predict peak oil to occur between 2005 and 2010.
Line 56: Line 62:
  
 The size of officially reported Middle-Eastern known reserves increased significantly during the 1980s. ​ The pessimists are confident that this inflation of known reserves was politically motivated and did not represent any new data --- OPEC's quotas were based on known reserves and these adjustments allowed various countries to increase their output. ​ Pessimists'​ models generally exclude these revisions (although they'​re included in upper-bound estimates). The size of officially reported Middle-Eastern known reserves increased significantly during the 1980s. ​ The pessimists are confident that this inflation of known reserves was politically motivated and did not represent any new data --- OPEC's quotas were based on known reserves and these adjustments allowed various countries to increase their output. ​ Pessimists'​ models generally exclude these revisions (although they'​re included in upper-bound estimates).
 +
  
 ===== The Optimists ===== ===== The Optimists =====
Line 61: Line 68:
 The optimists are mostly economists and lawyers with the occasional engineering degree thrown in, but also include most relevant agencies of the US government (including the US Geological Survey (USGS), Energy Information Agency (EIA), Materials Management Service (MMS) and Department of Energy (DoE)). ​ They generally do not present alternative models or predictions,​ but rather criticise the models of the optimists, broadly arguing that it is not possible to make such predictions because things we don't know about will improve the situation before any of the predictions come to pass.  Predictably,​ their arguments divide into the simply idiotic and those that are at the very least coherent. ​ Ignoring the idiocy (Huber in particular),​ their main arguments: The optimists are mostly economists and lawyers with the occasional engineering degree thrown in, but also include most relevant agencies of the US government (including the US Geological Survey (USGS), Energy Information Agency (EIA), Materials Management Service (MMS) and Department of Energy (DoE)). ​ They generally do not present alternative models or predictions,​ but rather criticise the models of the optimists, broadly arguing that it is not possible to make such predictions because things we don't know about will improve the situation before any of the predictions come to pass.  Predictably,​ their arguments divide into the simply idiotic and those that are at the very least coherent. ​ Ignoring the idiocy (Huber in particular),​ their main arguments:
   - Known reserves increase with time and existing models underestimate them (even though expected increases in known reserves are included, even optimistically,​ in pessimists'​ models). ​ It is noted that previous predictions,​ particularly those made before 1960, were proven to be highly pessimistic. ​ Clearly, the fact that one prediction is wrong does not in itself imply that a different prediction will be wrong --- each must be assessed on its merits.   - Known reserves increase with time and existing models underestimate them (even though expected increases in known reserves are included, even optimistically,​ in pessimists'​ models). ​ It is noted that previous predictions,​ particularly those made before 1960, were proven to be highly pessimistic. ​ Clearly, the fact that one prediction is wrong does not in itself imply that a different prediction will be wrong --- each must be assessed on its merits.
-  - There is a lot of oil that we know about but don't yet know how to extract --- at present, it is common to only be capable of extracting 30 per cent of a known oilfield. ​ This is true and technology is slowly advancing to extract more, but the trend is very much that extracting more oil comes at an escalating energy cost --- and there is a physical limit at the point at which it costs a barrel-worth of energy to extract a barrel-worth ​of oil.  We are already not very far from this point.+  - There is a lot of oil that we know about but don't yet know how to extract --- at present, it is common to only be capable of extracting 30 per cent of a known oilfield. ​ This is true and technology is slowly advancing to extract more, but the trend is very much that extracting more oil comes at an escalating energy cost --- and there is a physical limit at the point at which it costs a barrel-worth of energy to extract a barrel of oil.  We are already not very far from this point.
   - Once the price rises, we will find alternative energies --- we will return to coal or use gas, or improve our methods of using oil shale or possibly tar sands. ​ Currently there are enormous known reserves of oil shale, and it is already being used to create energy in Canada. ​ However, it requires enormous energy inputs (2 barrels in for every 3 out) and creates larger amounts of toxic waste than the processes'​ raw material input. ​ A comprehensive discussion of whether there are viable alternative energies follows in the next chapter. ​ But some optimists claim that the oil age will end not when it runs out, but when superior sources of energy are discovered.   - Once the price rises, we will find alternative energies --- we will return to coal or use gas, or improve our methods of using oil shale or possibly tar sands. ​ Currently there are enormous known reserves of oil shale, and it is already being used to create energy in Canada. ​ However, it requires enormous energy inputs (2 barrels in for every 3 out) and creates larger amounts of toxic waste than the processes'​ raw material input. ​ A comprehensive discussion of whether there are viable alternative energies follows in the next chapter. ​ But some optimists claim that the oil age will end not when it runs out, but when superior sources of energy are discovered.
   - The final argument is that there are large unexplored fields in the Middle East, which the nationalised industries of the region have avoided finding but will be brought online as oil prices begin to rise.  It is true that much Middle Eastern data is considered a state secret, but also that the Middle East has been extensively explored, and that even a few enormous new finds (none of which have occurred since 1970) would only push back the peak by a few years.   - The final argument is that there are large unexplored fields in the Middle East, which the nationalised industries of the region have avoided finding but will be brought online as oil prices begin to rise.  It is true that much Middle Eastern data is considered a state secret, but also that the Middle East has been extensively explored, and that even a few enormous new finds (none of which have occurred since 1970) would only push back the peak by a few years.
Line 87: Line 94:
 ===== Wind ===== ===== Wind =====
  
-The cheapness and efficiency of wind power generation is improving rapidly. ​ It already accounts for over 1 per cent of global electricity generation, being pioneered primarily by Germany and Spain. ​ In US, it's believed that there is enough wind to ultimately provide 60 per cent of current energy usage, although harnessing even a small part of this will require the creation of an enormous industry to generate the capacity. ​ Land can often be used to generate wind power in parallel with other uses, such as agriculture. ​ Significant new transmission infrastructure is needed, and there are practical problems associated with the daily variability of wind supply --- if wind were to take on a significant portion of power generation, then substantial storage technologies would have to be created (probably using electricity to generate hydrogen). ​ Wind probably already has an EROEI of 50.+The cheapness and efficiency of wind power generation is improving rapidly. ​ It already accounts for over 1 per cent of global electricity generation, being pioneered primarily by Germany and Spain. ​ In the US, it's believed that there is enough wind to ultimately provide 60 per cent of current energy usage, although harnessing even a small part of this will require the creation of an enormous industry to generate the capacity. ​ Land can often be used to generate wind power in parallel with other uses, such as agriculture. ​ Significant new transmission infrastructure is needed, and there are practical problems associated with the daily variability of wind supply --- if wind were to take on a significant portion of power generation, then substantial storage technologies would have to be created (probably using electricity to generate hydrogen). ​ Wind probably already has an EROEI of 50.
  
 ===== Solar ===== ===== Solar =====
Line 115: Line 122:
 ===== Fusion, Cold Fusion and Free-Energy Devices ===== ===== Fusion, Cold Fusion and Free-Energy Devices =====
  
-Some people still believe in perpetual motion machines. ​ There'​s no evidence that any of these aren't bollocks.+Some people still believe in perpetual motion machines. ​ There'​s no evidence that any of these are viable.
  
 ===== Conservation:​ Efficiency and Curtailment ===== ===== Conservation:​ Efficiency and Curtailment =====
Line 125: Line 132:
 ===== The Economy ===== ===== The Economy =====
  
-Heinberg buys into Lietaer'​s rather questionable idea that fiat money is inextricably tied to positive interest rates and therefore requires an exponential increase in the money supply to survive. ​ He doesn'​t mention the obvious ways in which negative real interest rates are compatible with fiat money, such as a moderate rate of inflation above nominal interest rates. ​ He believes that improvements in energy efficiency are inevitably doomed to diminishing returns, rejecting the possibility of new paradigms. ​ He equates 19th and 20th Century increases ​with worker productivity with increases in the amount of fossil-fuel energy which could be harnessed per worker per hour.+Heinberg buys into Lietaer'​s rather questionable idea that fiat money is inextricably tied to positive interest rates and therefore requires an exponential increase in the money supply to survive. ​ He doesn'​t mention the obvious ways in which negative real interest rates are compatible with fiat money, such as a moderate rate of inflation above nominal interest rates. ​ He believes that improvements in energy efficiency are inevitably doomed to diminishing returns, rejecting the possibility of new paradigms. ​ He equates 19th and 20th Century increases ​in worker productivity with increases in the amount of fossil-fuel energy which could be harnessed per worker per hour.
  
 > Productivity --- the output produced per worker-hour --- has grown dramatically,​ not because workers have worked harder but because workers have been controlling ever more energy in order to accomplish their tasks. ---p189 > Productivity --- the output produced per worker-hour --- has grown dramatically,​ not because workers have worked harder but because workers have been controlling ever more energy in order to accomplish their tasks. ---p189
  
-He envisages two main forms of financial collapse. ​ On the one hand, an increase in the cost of energy embedded in prices will lead to a reduction ​in demand. ​ The price mechanism must inevitably balance the demand for and supply of energy --- if this level of demand for energy (embedded in products) ​demands ​then the demand for the products in which energy is embedded is likely to fall beneath that which requires ​the entire workforce. ​ A classical depression ​is therefore the result, with massive unemployment and a spiralling collapse in demand.((This implicitly ignores the effect of attempts to use cheap labour to substitute for expensive energy inputs. ​ My inference is that Heinberg does not believe that the private economy is sufficiently dynamic to identify and exploit this opportunity to the required extent rapidly enough.)) ​ The other alternative is that governments try to pump up demand with fiscal expenditure ("​perhaps to finance military adventures"​) --- but Heinberg sees this as unlikely to succeed --- it will crowd out private energy usage and rather than increasing employment without increasing energy consumption,​ it's more likely to lead to hyperinflation.+He envisages two main forms of financial collapse. ​ On the one hand, an increase in the cost of energy embedded in prices will lead to a contraction ​in demand. ​ The price mechanism must inevitably balance the demand for and supply of energy --- if this level of demand for energy (embedded in products) ​contracts ​then the demand for the products in which energy is embedded is likely to contract below a level at which the entire workforce ​is employed.  A classical depression ​will therefore ​be the result, with massive unemployment and a spiralling collapse in demand.((This implicitly ignores the effect of attempts to use cheap labour to substitute for expensive energy inputs. ​ My inference is that Heinberg does not believe that the private economy is sufficiently dynamic to identify and exploit this opportunity to the required extent rapidly enough.)) ​ The other alternative is that governments try to pump up demand with fiscal expenditure ("​perhaps to finance military adventures"​) --- but Heinberg sees this as unlikely to succeed --- it will crowd out private energy usage and rather than increasing employment without increasing energy consumption,​ it's more likely to lead to hyperinflation.
  
 ===== Transportation ===== ===== Transportation =====
Line 140: Line 147:
 The global food-supply situation is already tight. ​ Over the 20th Century, production tripled, only barely keeping up with the rise in population. ​ Per-capita food production is falling, reserves are currently being drawn down.  //Who Will Feed China?// by Lester Brown highlights the problems that the planet is likely to face in the interval before global population peaks. ​ Moreover, many current industrial farming practises are reducing the Earth'​s natural capital by reducing soil quality year on year: "for every bushel of corn produced in Iowa, three bushels of topsoil are lost forever."​((p195.)) The global food-supply situation is already tight. ​ Over the 20th Century, production tripled, only barely keeping up with the rise in population. ​ Per-capita food production is falling, reserves are currently being drawn down.  //Who Will Feed China?// by Lester Brown highlights the problems that the planet is likely to face in the interval before global population peaks. ​ Moreover, many current industrial farming practises are reducing the Earth'​s natural capital by reducing soil quality year on year: "for every bushel of corn produced in Iowa, three bushels of topsoil are lost forever."​((p195.))
  
-What is the long-term capacity for the planet to feed itself, without oil?  Heinberg presents two bases for prediction. ​ The first is the carrying capacity before agriculture was industrialised:​ around 1.7 billion people. ​ Heinberg claims that this may be optimistic, given 20th Century soil depletion. ​ The second is based on twenty-five years of research by John Jeavons in California, who has developed an organic farming system using no fossil fuels to test the minimum land requirement of a human being under these conditions. ​ He has developed a system using only 250m<​sup>​2</​sup>​ per person, equivalent to a planetary carrying capacity of 7.5 billion, which is more or less the projected population peak.  However, this is based on a strictly ​vegetarian ​diet recycling all animal and plant waste with no surplus to be used for transport, //or cooking or heating//.+What is the long-term capacity for the planet to feed itself, without oil?  Heinberg presents two bases for prediction. ​ The first is the carrying capacity before agriculture was industrialised:​ around 1.7 billion people. ​ Heinberg claims that this may be optimistic, given 20th Century soil depletion. ​ The second is based on twenty-five years of research by John Jeavons in California, who has developed an organic farming system using no fossil fuels to test the minimum land requirement of a human being under these conditions. ​ He has developed a system using only 250m<​sup>​2</​sup>​ per person, equivalent to a planetary carrying capacity of 7.5 billion, which is more or less the projected population peak.  However, this is based on a strictly ​vegen diet recycling all animal and plant waste with no surplus to be used for transport, //or cooking or heating//.
  
 There are two camps of optimists who claim there are solutions to this problem: one based on the development of more intensive organic agriculture,​ and the other based around GM.  Heinberg has some faith in the former and none whatsoever in the latter. ​ Overall, he concludes that it is unlikely that the planet will be able to sustain 7.5 billion individuals in the long term and that some effort at population reduction will be required to avoid large-scale plague, famine or war. There are two camps of optimists who claim there are solutions to this problem: one based on the development of more intensive organic agriculture,​ and the other based around GM.  Heinberg has some faith in the former and none whatsoever in the latter. ​ Overall, he concludes that it is unlikely that the planet will be able to sustain 7.5 billion individuals in the long term and that some effort at population reduction will be required to avoid large-scale plague, famine or war.
Line 158: Line 165:
 ===== IT ===== ===== IT =====
  
-Industrial society is keenly dependent on IT infrastructure. ​ Although it uses very little energy, more energy is used in the deployment and maintenance of its infrastructure. ​ Its greatest vulnerability is its dependence on the national grid.  Heinberg sees increasing blackouts and brownouts as inevitable in the long term and IT will be particularly vulnerable to these threats unless an alternative means electrical infrastructure ​cannot ​be developed in time to take over from the present non-viable system.+Industrial society is keenly dependent on IT infrastructure. ​ Although it uses very little energy, more energy is used in the deployment and maintenance of its infrastructure. ​ Its greatest vulnerability is its dependence on the national grid.  Heinberg sees increasing blackouts and brownouts as inevitable in the long term and IT will be particularly vulnerable to these threats unless an alternative means of electrical infrastructure ​can be developed in time to take over from the present non-viable system.
  
 ===== National Politics and Social Movements ===== ===== National Politics and Social Movements =====
  
-Heinberg sees the political landscape of the industrial age in terms of the traditional dichotomy ​of left and right: right asserting that the state'​s role is defending private accumulation of wealth and the left asserting that the state'​s function is to equalise wealth and subsidise those without the means to support themselves. ​ He rather generously claims "​democracy is an inherently leftist ideal,"​((p206.)) but implicitly admits that //his// view of democracy is a state empowered to limitlessly intervene in the economy --- which is probably nearer to left's conception of the word than the right'​s. ​ Political discourse will become much more tense as politics shifts from being a squabble over an expanding pie to a squabble over a diminishing pie.  It is likely that both sides will avoid the real issue, since easy answers and scapegoating are more attractive to voters than a grim and complex reality with no easy solution. ​ It's possible that the political environment will gradually disintegrate with barely a mention that natural resource scarcity is the underlying cause of the new poverty being blamed on immigrants, communists and terrorists by the right and the rich, the greedy and the corporations by the left.  The only hope that the political system will avoid self-defeating internecine warfare is that a large existing caucus called '​cultural creatives'​ find a powerful political voice --- these people broadly support ecology and feminism and remain sceptical of globalisation and big business. ​ It's quite possible that the nation-state will disintegrate into autonomous regional enclaves if the state'​s power to maintain national infrastructure declines sufficiently.+Heinberg sees the political landscape of the industrial age in terms of the traditional dichotomy ​between ​left and right: right asserting that the state'​s role is defending private accumulation of wealth and the left asserting that the state'​s function is to equalise wealth and subsidise those without the means to support themselves. ​ He rather generously claims "​democracy is an inherently leftist ideal,"​((p206.)) but implicitly admits that //his// view of democracy is a state empowered to limitlessly intervene in the economy --- which is probably nearer to the left's conception of the word than the right'​s. 
 + 
 +Political discourse will become much more tense as politics shifts from being a squabble over an expanding pie to a squabble over a diminishing pie.  It is likely that both sides will avoid the real issue, since easy answers and scapegoating are more attractive to voters than a grim and complex reality with no easy solution. ​ It's possible that the political environment will gradually disintegrate with barely a mention that natural resource scarcity is the underlying cause of the new poverty being blamed on immigrants, communists and terrorists by the right and the rich, the greedy and the corporations by the left. 
 + 
 +The only hope that the political system will avoid self-defeating internecine warfare is that a large existing caucus called '​cultural creatives'​ find a powerful political voice --- these people broadly support ecology and feminism and remain sceptical of globalisation and big business. ​ It's quite possible that the nation-state will disintegrate into autonomous regional enclaves if the state'​s power to maintain national infrastructure declines sufficiently.
  
 ===== Geopolitics of Energy Resources ===== ===== Geopolitics of Energy Resources =====
  
-This section is broken down by region and is quite detailed, so a lot has been left out.  The US is by far the largest oil importer, larger than the next two combined (Japan and China, who are roughly equal). ​ The US also being the principal global hegemon, it is certain that the US will continue to play a central role in near-future resource wars.  It is already heavily involved throughout the Middle East, in which it has a tacit agreement with various autocratic regimes under which it will provide security for the regime against its own people in return for a measure of control over that country'​s energy resources. ​ Its direct military presence in the region has increased dramatically in the last twenty years. ​ However, its unilateralism has increased the tendency of other countries to form increasingly overt alliances against it.  Their contiguous geography imply that the EU, Russia and China form a natural strategic alliance against an overstretched US which is dependent on the rest of the world to fund its deficit in dollars and oil.  At present the US has a lot of control, not only of Middle East oil at source, but of the main pipelines out of the Caspian, including 19 new bases in the Caspian region and the largest new permanent base since Vietnam in Kosovo, next to the new Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. ​ It has the fundamental weaknesses of relying on an overstretched and distributed military infrastructure and a reliance on a long and fragile tanker supply route, compared to Europe-Russia-China'​s ability to meet its needs through much more easily defensible overland pipelines. ​ Growing demand in China amidst existing pressure is likely to make the South China Sea an increasingly volatile area, both as a source of oil and as a transit route for the Philippines,​ Japan, Indonesia, VietnamKorea as well as China. ​ In general, research suggests that in recent history, more resource-rich LDCs have faced a higher risk of civil war, and this is likely to continue --- the most stable areas of the developing world may well be the most resource-poor. ​ The developing world uses oil much more efficiently than the west, and therefore ought to be more able to cope with higher prices (this seems //highly// questionable to me --- it means that there are far fewer easy efficiency savings to be made and there is certainly less surplus economic output that could easily ​be curtailed).  ​However, it is almost universally true that it is in the midst of economic hardship ​that there are the greatest ​potential ​political gains from policy based on hatred and violence.+This section is broken down by region and is quite detailed, so a lot has been left out.  The US is by far the largest oil importer, larger than the next two combined (Japan and China, who are roughly equal). ​ The US also being the principal global hegemon, it is certain that the US will continue to play a central role in near-future resource wars.  It is already heavily involved throughout the Middle East, in which it has a tacit agreement with various autocratic regimes under which it will provide security for the regime against its own people in return for a measure of control over that country'​s energy resources. ​ Its direct military presence in the region has increased dramatically in the last twenty years. 
 + 
 +However, its unilateralism has increased the tendency of other countries to form increasingly overt alliances against it.  Their contiguous geography imply that the EU, Russia and China form a natural strategic alliance against an overstretched US which is dependent on the rest of the world to fund its deficit in dollars and oil. 
 + 
 +At present the US has a lot of control, not only of Middle East oil at source, but of the main pipelines out of the Caspian, including 19 new bases in the Caspian region and the largest new permanent base since Vietnam in Kosovo, next to the new Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. ​ It has the fundamental weaknesses of relying on an overstretched and distributed military infrastructure and a reliance on a long and fragile tanker supply route, compared to Europe-Russia-China'​s ability to meet its needs through much more easily defensible overland pipelines. 
 + 
 +Growing demand in China amidst existing pressure is likely to make the South China Sea an increasingly volatile area, both as a source of oil and as a transit route for the Philippines,​ Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam ​and Korea as well as China. ​ In general, research suggests that in recent history, more resource-rich LDCs have faced a higher risk of civil war, and this is likely to continue --- the most stable areas of the developing world in future ​may well be the most resource-poor. ​ The developing world uses oil much more efficiently than the west, and therefore ought to be more able to cope with higher prices (this seems //highly// questionable to me --- it means that there are fewer easy efficiency savings to be made and there is certainly less surplus economic output that could be curtailed).  ​It is almost universally true that in the midst of economic hardship there are the greatest political gains from policy based on hatred and violence.
  
 ====== Managing the Collapse: Strategies and Recommendations ====== ====== Managing the Collapse: Strategies and Recommendations ======
Line 210: Line 227:
     - Population must be controlled and decreased by any effective and acceptable means --- the 'easy fixes' include female education and emancipation and the free provision of contraception,​ but these will not have a sufficient effect and more extreme measures will be required,     - Population must be controlled and decreased by any effective and acceptable means --- the 'easy fixes' include female education and emancipation and the free provision of contraception,​ but these will not have a sufficient effect and more extreme measures will be required,
     - Immigration is also very dangerous and must be curbed rapidly; immigrants generally require several generations before they begin to understand the carrying capacity of the country they have moved to and a large investment in the local community plays a vital role in the transition to sustainable behaviour; however, the exploitation of developing countries which provides the motivation for immigration must also end,     - Immigration is also very dangerous and must be curbed rapidly; immigrants generally require several generations before they begin to understand the carrying capacity of the country they have moved to and a large investment in the local community plays a vital role in the transition to sustainable behaviour; however, the exploitation of developing countries which provides the motivation for immigration must also end,
-  - Those of us that live in countries with evil foreign policies must stop being so evil,​(("​The Bush administration'​s proposed military budget //​increase//​ from 2003 to 2004 is itself larger than the entire military budget of any other country in the world except Russia."​ (p243.)))+  - Those of us that live in countries with evil foreign policies must stop being so evil,​(("​The Bush administration'​s proposed military budget //​increase//​ from 2003 to 2004 is itself larger than the entire military budget of any other country in the world except Russia."​ (p243.) ))
   - Public investment must shift from enormous subsidy of car and air to substantial subsidy of a rail network that will hopefully survive peak, and   - Public investment must shift from enormous subsidy of car and air to substantial subsidy of a rail network that will hopefully survive peak, and
   - We need more social activists.   - We need more social activists.
Line 227: Line 244:
 ===== Conclusions ===== ===== Conclusions =====
  
-A final two questions present themselves: firstly, //is it too late?// and secondly //are these recommendations realistic?// ​ The answer to the first question is almost certainly yes, it is too late for a transition to be made without a "​discontinuity"​. ​ The global community would have required a warlike mobilisation starting in the 1970s in order to complete such an enormous transition smoothly. ​ But it is clearly never too late to act effectively to reduce the impact of the coming '​collapse'​ (meant in rather technical sense of a sudden decrease in societal complexity).+A final two questions present themselves: firstly, //is it too late?// and secondly //are these recommendations realistic?// ​ The answer to the first question is almost certainly yes, it is too late for a transition to be made without a "​discontinuity"​. ​ The global community would have required a warlike mobilisation starting in the 1970s in order to complete such an enormous transition smoothly. ​ But it is clearly never too late to act effectively to reduce the impact of the coming '​collapse'​ (meant in the rather technical sense of a sudden decrease in societal complexity).
  
-Secondly, are these recommendations realistic? ​ Experience suggests that at the national and international level it is unrealistic to expect a serious effort to alter societies ​stemming from politicians --- the basic structure of current political systems makes it impossible. ​ Change is far more likely from below, from individual and community action and direct political pressure, which is capable of generating proposals and a limited amount of political pressure. ​ However, as the collapse unfolds the situation will change --- the risks of large societal upheaval also come with opportunities for fundamental change which do not exist in ordinary times.+Secondly, are these recommendations realistic? ​ Experience suggests that at the national and international level it is unrealistic to expect a serious effort to alter societies ​to originate with politicians --- the basic structure of current political systems makes it impossible. ​ Change is far more likely from below, from individual and community action and direct political pressure, which is capable of generating proposals and a limited amount of political pressure. ​ However, as the collapse unfolds the situation will change --- the risks of large societal upheaval also come with opportunities for fundamental change which do not exist in ordinary times.
the_partys_over.1263954674.txt.gz · Last modified: 2010/01/20 12:00 (external edit)