[p2p-research] no oil crisis?

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Sat Aug 15 05:53:01 CEST 2009


I work more closely now wi th some people involved in the state of the world
forum, which is a stellar collection of minds if I ever saw one,

I can tell you that literally 'nobody' believes that oil and food markets
work the way you suppose they do,

there is very very high level debate, as there is indeed panic about both
the havoc that the seesaw in oil and food prices is doing to the system as a

this 'market' is so dysfunction that it literally threatens the survival of
the system itself, this is no wild leftist imaginings, but the thoughts of
important members of the current establishment ...

the pristine functions of the market you imagine are  nothing else than myth
and ideology,

to still  belief in the power of existing markets to create 'infinite oil'
... I really don't know what to say ...

the truth is that without at least $150b in subsidies, the 'market' would
not even in invest in renewables, and that in an age of imminent climate
threat ... I still belong to that faction of humanity that sees moving
billions as highly problematic and not a sign of abundance ...

Running of out oil is not in any way an imminent danger that peak oilers
talk about, but rather the immediate effect of the growing disparity between
supply and demand for the current economy and the longer term consequences
of the failure to have developed alternatives in time,

See the 3 pieces below for a serious treatment of these issues.

You have to respond to these kind of challenges in detail, not by blanket
statements about the infinite potential of our planet. It is not because the
sun's energy is infinite, that we tomorrow have the ability to exploit it,
it is not because 'free energy; is potentially possible, that we can today
deploy it unproblematically, it is not because '90% percent of our brain is
unused' that we suddenly  all become geniuses tomorrow morning. Approaches
that continually try to jumpstart the incredibly difficult transitions and
incremental improvements that we see occuring in human evolution, sideline
us from the real work ahead ..

I find Sepp's research quite more challenging that Julian Simon's
ideological statements,


 « Crisis at the Factor E
The U.S. as the New

Peak Oil and the Meltdown (1): the role of oil scarcity as
[image: photo of Michel Bauwens] Michel Bauwens
11th August 2009

 Richard Heinberg <http://www.richardheinberg.com/> has published a
crucially important guest post <http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5638> at the
“Peak-Oil thesis” related Oil Drum website.

This excerpt explains how the subprime trigger was preceded by an oil price
crisis, which should be seen as the real cause of the current meltdown.

*Richard Heinberg:*

*“Continual increases in population and consumption cannot continue forever
on a finite planet. This is an axiomatic observation with which everyone
familiar with the mathematics of compounded arithmetic growth must agree,
even if they hedge their agreement with vague references to
“substitutability” and “demographic transitions.” *

*This axiomatic limit to growth means that the rapid expansion in both
population and per-capita consumption of resources that has occurred over
the past century or two must cease at some particular time. But when is this
likely to occur?*

*The unfairly maligned Limits to Growth studies, published first in 1972
with periodic updates since, have attempted to answer the question with
analysis of resource availability and depletion, and multiple scenarios for
future population growth and consumption rates. The most pessimistic
scenario in 1972 suggested an end of world economic growth around 2015. *

*But there may be a simpler way of forecasting growth’s demise.*

*Energy is the ultimate enabler of growth (again, this is axiomatic: physics
and biology both tell us that without energy nothing happens). Industrial
expansion throughout the past two centuries has in every instance been based
on increased energy consumption. *

*More specifically, industrialism has been inextricably tied to the
availability and consumption of cheap energy from coal and oil (and more
recently, natural gas). However, fossil fuels are by their very nature
depleting, non-renewable resources. Therefore (according to the Peak Oil
thesis), the eventual inability to continue increasing supplies of cheap
fossil energy will likely lead to a cessation of economic growth in general,
unless alternative energy sources and efficiency of energy use can be
deployed rapidly and to a sufficient degree. *

*Of the three conventional fossil fuels, oil is arguably the most
economically vital, since it supplies 95 percent of all transport energy.
Further, petroleum is the fuel with which we are likely to encounter supply
problems soonest, because global petroleum discoveries have been declining
for decades, and most oil producing countries are already seeing production
declines. *

*So, by this logic, the end of economic growth (as conventionally defined)
is inevitable, and Peak Oil is the likely trigger.*

*Why would Peak Oil lead not just to problems for the transport industry,
but a more general economic and financial crisis? During the past century
growth has become institutionalized in the very sinews of our economic
system. Every city and business wants to grow. This is understandable merely
in terms of human nature: nearly everyone wants a competitive advantage over
someone else, and growth provides the opportunity to achieve it. But there
is also a financial survival motive at work: without growth, businesses and
governments are unable to service their debt. And debt has become endemic to
the industrial system. During the past couple of decades, the financial
services industry has grown faster than any other sector of the American
economy, even outpacing the rise in health care expenditures, accounting for
a third of all growth in the U.S. economy. From 1990 to the present, the
ratio of debt-to-GDP expanded from 165 percent to over 350 percent. In
essence, the present welfare of the economy rests on debt, and the
collateral for that debt consists of a wager that next year’s levels of
production and consumption will be higher than this year’s.*

*Given that growth cannot continue on a finite planet, this wager, and its
embodiment in the institutions of finance, can be said to constitute
history’s greatest Ponzi scheme. We have justified present borrowing with
the irrational belief that perpetual growth is possible, necessary, and
inevitable. In effect we have borrowed from future generations so that we
could gamble away their capital today.*

*Until recently, the Peak Oil argument has been framed as a forecast: the
inevitable decline in world petroleum production, whenever it occurs, will
kill growth. But here is where forecast becomes diagnosis: during the period
from 2005 to 2008, energy stopped growing and oil prices rose to record
levels. By July of 2008, the price of a barrel of oil was nudging close to
$150—half again higher than any previous petroleum price in
inflation-adjusted terms—and the global economy was beginning to topple. The
auto and airline industries shuddered; ordinary consumers had trouble for
buying gasoline for their commute to work while still paying their
mortgages. Consumer spending began to decline. By September the economic
crisis was also a financial crisis, as banks trembled and imploded. *

*Given how much is at stake, it is important to evaluate the two diagnoses
on the basis of facts, not preconceptions.*

*It is unnecessary to examine evidence supporting or refuting the
Conventional Diagnosis, because its validity is not in doubt—as a partial
explanation for what is occurring. The question is whether it is a
sufficient explanation, and hence an adequate basis for designing a
successful response.*

*What’s the evidence favoring the Alternative? A good place to begin is with
a recent paper by economist James Hamilton of the University of California,
San Diego, titled “Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007-08,”
which discusses oil prices and economic impacts with clarity, logic, and
numbers, explaining how and why the economic crash is related to the oil
price shock of 2008. *

*Hamilton starts by citing previous studies showing a tight correlation
between oil price spikes and recessions. On the basis of this correlation,
every attentive economist should have forecast a steep recession for
2008.“Indeed,” writes Hamilton, “the relation could account for the
downturn of 2007-08…. If one could have known in advance what happened to
oil prices during 2007-08, and if one had used the historically estimated
relation [between price rise and economic impact]… one would have been able
to predict the level of real GDP for both of 2008:Q3 and 2008:Q4 quite

*Again, this is not to ignore the role of the financial and real estate
sectors in the ongoing global economic meltdown. But in the Alternative
Diagnosis the collapse of the housing and derivatives markets is seen as
amplifying a signal ultimately emanating from a failure to increase the rate
of supply of depleting resources. Hamilton again: “At a minimum it is clear
that something other than housing deteriorated to turn slow growth into a
recession. That something, in my mind, includes the collapse in automobile
purchases, slowdown in overall consumption spending, and deteriorating
consumer sentiment, in which the oil shock was indisputably a contributing

*Moreover, Hamilton notes that there was “an interaction effect between the
oil shock and the problems in housing.” That is, in many metropolitan areas,
house prices in 2007 were still rising in the zip codes closest to urban
centers but already falling fast in zip codes where commutes were long.*

*Why Did the Oil Price Spike?*

*Those who espouse the Conventional Diagnosis for our ongoing economic
collapse might agree that there was some element of causal correlation
between the oil price spike and the recession, but they would deny that the
price spike itself had anything to do with resource limits, because (they
say) it was caused mostly by speculation in the oil futures market, and had
little to do with fundamentals of supply and demand.*

*In this, the Conventional Diagnosis once again has some basis in reality.
Speculation in oil futures during the period in question almost certainly
helped drive oil prices higher than was justified by fundamentals. But why
were investors buying oil futures? Was the mania for oil contracts just
another bubble, like the dot.com stock frenzy of the late ’90s or the real
estate boom of 2003 to 2006?*

*During the period from 2005 to mid-2008, demand for oil was growing,
especially in China (which went from being self-sufficient in oil in 1995 to
being the world’s second-foremost importer, after the U.S., by 2006). But
the global supply of oil was essentially stagnant: monthly production
figures for crude oil bounced around within a fairly narrow band between 72
and 75 million barrels per day. As prices rose, production figures barely
budged in response. There was every indication that all oil producers were
pumping flat-out: even the Saudis appeared to be rushing to capitalize on
the price bonanza.*

*Thus a good argument can be made that speculation in oil futures was merely
magnifying price moves that were inevitable on the basis of the fundamentals
of supply and demand. James Hamilton (in his publication previously cited)
puts it this way: “With hindsight, it is hard to deny that the price rose
too high in July 2008, and that this miscalculation was influenced in part
by the flow of investment dollars into commodity futures contracts. It is
worth emphasizing, however, that the two key ingredients needed to make such
a story coherent—a low price elasticity of demand, and the failure of
physical production to increase—are the same key elements of a
fundamentals-based explanation of the same phenomenon. I therefore conclude
that these two factors, rather than speculation per se, should be construed
as the primary cause of the oil shock of 2007-08.”*

 « Trade exchange and credit clearing is not
Book of the Week (2): Towards collaborative

Peak Oil and the Meltdown (2): the volatility
[image: photo of Michel Bauwens] Michel Bauwens
12th August 2009

 We continue our processing of the essay by Richard Feinberg, which relates
oil scarcity to the current crisis and sets clear limits on a eventual

In this excerpt <http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5638> he explains that the
volatility in oil prices, which confuses people, is part and parcel of the
Peak Oil thesis.

*Richard Feinberg: Why Did Oil Prices Fall? And Why Didn’t Lower Oil Prices
Lead to a Quick Recovery?*

*“The Peak Oil thesis predicts that, as world oil production reaches its
maximum level and begins to decline, the price of oil will rise
dramatically. But it also forecasts a dramatic increase in the volatility of

*The argument goes as follows. As oil becomes scarce, its price will rise
until it begins to undermine economic activity in general. Economic
contraction will then result in substantially reduced demand for oil, which
will in turn cause its price to fall temporarily. Then one of two things
will happen: either (a) the economy will begin to recover, stoking renewed
oil demand, leading again to high prices which will again undermine economic
activity; or (b), if the economy does not quickly recover, petroleum
production will gradually fall due to depletion until spare production
capacity (created by lower demand) is wiped out, leading again to higher
prices and even more economic contraction. In both cases, oil prices remain
volatile and the economy contracts. *

*This scenario corresponds very closely with the reality that is unfolding,
though it remains to be seen whether situation (a) or (b) will ensue.*

*Over the past three years, oil prices rose and fell more dramatically than
would have been the case if it had not been for widespread speculation in
oil futures. Nevertheless, the general direction of prices—way up, then way
down, then part-way back up—is entirely consistent with the Peak Oil thesis
and the Alternative Diagnosis.*

*Why has the economy not quickly recovered, given that oil prices are now
only half what they were in July 2008? Again, Peak Oil is not the only cause
of the current economic crisis. Enormous bubbles in the real estate and
finance sectors constituted accidents waiting to happen, and the implosion
of those bubbles has created a serious credit crisis (as well as solvency
and looming currency crises) that will likely take several years to resolve
even if energy supplies don’t pose a problem.*

*But now the potential for renewed high oil prices acts as a ceiling for
economic recovery. Whenever the economy does appear to show renewed signs of
life (as has happened in May-July this year, with stock values rebounding
and the general pace of economic contraction slowing somewhat), oil prices
will take off again as oil speculators anticipate a recovery of demand.
Indeed, oil prices have rebounded from $30 in January to nearly $70
currently, provoking widespread concern that high energy prices could nip
recovery in the bud. *

*A barrel of oil from newly developed sources costs in the neighborhood of
$60 to produce, now that all of the cheaper prospects have been exploited:
finding new oilfields today usually means drilling under miles of ocean
water, or in politically unstable nations where equipment and personnel are
at high risk. So as soon as consumers demand more oil, the price will have
to stay noticeably above that figure in order to provide the incentive for
producers to drill.*

*Volatile oil prices hurt on the upside, but they also hurt on the downside.
The oil price collapse of August-December 2008, plus the worsening credit
crisis, caused a dramatic contraction in oil industry investment, leading to
the cancellation of about $150 billion worth of new oil production
projects—whose potential productive capacity will be required to offset
declines in existing oilfields if world oil production is to remain stable.
This means that even if demand remains low, production capacity will almost
certainly decline to meet those demand levels, causing oil prices to rise
again in real terms at some point, perhaps two or three years from now.
Volatile petroleum prices also hurt the development of alternative energy,
as was shown during the past few months when falling oil prices led to
financial troubles for ethanol manufacturers. *

*One way or another, growth will be highly problematic if not unachievable.”

 « Will the Web bankrupt
Inaugural Conference of the Internet and P2P Research

Peak Oil and the Meltdown (3): the alt.energy
[image: photo of Michel Bauwens] Michel Bauwens
13th August 2009

 My conclusion from a careful survey of energy alternatives, then, is that
there is little likelihood that either conventional fossil fuels or
alternative energy sources can be counted on to provide the amount and
quality of energy that will be needed to sustain economic growth—or even
current levels of economic activity—during the remainder of this century.

Richard Heinberg <http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5638> continues his
treatment of the role of Peak Oil in the current meltdown.

This excerpt features a key argument, which I have seen in most people that
have studied the issue carefully: there is no smooth transition to a
alternative future based on renewable energies!

*Richard Heinberg:*

*“At this point in the discussion many readers will be wondering why
alternative energy sources and efficiency measures cannot be deployed to
solve the Peak Oil crisis. After all, as petroleum becomes more expensive,
ethanol, biodiesel, and electric cars all start to look more attractive both
to producers and consumers. Won’t the magic of the market intervene to
render oil shortages irrelevant to future growth?*

*It is impossible in the context of this discussion to provide a detailed
explanation of why the market probably cannot solve the Peak Oil problem.
Such an explanation requires a discussion of energy evaluation criteria, and
an analysis of many individual energy alternatives on the basis of those
criteria. I have offered brief overviews of this subject previously and a
much longer one is in press. *

*My summary conclusions in this regard are as follows.*

*About 85 percent of our current energy is derived from three primary
sources—oil, natural gas, and coal—that are non-renewable, whose price is
likely to trend sharply higher over the next years and decades leading to
severe shortages, and whose environmental impacts are unacceptable. While
these sources historically have had very high economic value, we cannot rely
on them in the future; indeed, the longer the transition to alternative
energy sources is delayed, the more difficult that transition will be unless
some practical mix of alternative energy systems can be identified that will
have superior economic and environmental characteristics.*

*But identifying such a mix is harder than one might initially think. Each
energy source has highly specific characteristics. In fact, it has been the
characteristics of our present energy sources (principally oil, coal, and
natural gas) that have enabled the building of an urbanized society with
high mobility, large population, and high economic growth rates. Surveying
the available alternative energy sources for criteria such as energy
density, environmental impacts, reliance on depleting raw materials,
intermittency versus constancy of supply, and the percentage of energy
returned on the energy invested in energy production, none currently appears
capable of perpetuating this kind of society.*

*Moreover, national energy systems are expensive and slow to develop. Energy
efficiency likewise requires investment, and further incremental investments
in efficiency tend to yield diminishing returns over time, since it is
impossible to perform work with zero energy input. Where is there the will
or ability to muster sufficient investment capital for deployment of
alternative energy sources and efficiency measures on the scale needed?*

*While there are many successful alternative energy production installations
around the world (ranging from small home-scale photovoltaic systems to
large “farms” of three-megawatt wind turbines), there are very few modern
industrial nations that now get the bulk of their energy from sources other
than oil, coal, and natural gas. One example is Sweden, which obtains most
of its energy from nuclear and hydropower. Another is Iceland, which
benefits from unusually large domestic geothermal resources not found in
most other countries. Even for these two nations, the situation is complex:
the construction of the infrastructure for their power plants mostly relied
on fossil fuels for the mining of the ores and raw materials, for materials
processing, for transportation, for the manufacturing of components, for the
mining of uranium, for construction energy, and so on. Thus a meaningful
energy transition away from fossil fuels is still a matter of theory and
wishful thinking, not reality.*

*My conclusion from a careful survey of energy alternatives, then, is that
there is little likelihood that either conventional fossil fuels or
alternative energy sources can be counted on to provide the amount and
quality of energy that will be needed to sustain economic growth—or even
current levels of economic activity—during the remainder of this century. *

*But the problem extends beyond oil and other fossil fuels: the world’s
fresh water resources are strained to the point that billions of people may
soon find themselves with only precarious access to water for drinking and
irrigation. Biodiversity is declining rapidly. We are losing 24 billion tons
of topsoil each year to erosion. And many economically significant
minerals—from antimony to zinc—are depleting quickly, requiring the mining
of ever lower-grade ores in ever more remote locations. Thus the Peak Oil
crisis is really just the leading edge of a broader Peak Everything dilemma.

*In essence, humanity faces an entirely predictable peril: our population
has been growing dramatically for the past 200 years (expanding from under
one billion to nearly seven billion), while our per-capita consumption of
resources has also grown. For any species, this is virtually the definition
of biological success. And yet all of this has taken place in the context of
a finite planet with fixed stores of non-renewable resources (fossil fuels
and minerals), a limited ability to regenerate renewable resources (forests,
fish, fresh water, and topsoil), and a limited ability to absorb industrial
wastes (including carbon dioxide). If we step back and look at the
industrial period from a broad historical perspective that is informed by an
appreciation of ecological limits, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that
we are today living at the end of a relatively brief pulse—a 200-year rapid
expansionary phase enabled by a temporary energy subsidy (in the form of
cheap fossil fuels) that will inevitably be followed by an even more rapid
and dramatic contraction as those fuels deplete.*

*The winding down of this historic growth-contraction pulse doesn’t
necessarily mean the end of the world, but it does mean the end of a certain
kind of economy. One way or another, humanity must return to a more normal
pattern of existence characterized by reliance on immediate solar income
(via crops, wind, or the direct conversion of sunlight to electricity)
rather than stored ancient sunlight.*

*This is not to say that the remainder of the 21st century must consist of a
collapse of industrialism, a die-off of most of the human population, and a
return by the survivors to a way of life essentially identical to that of
16th century peasants or indigenous hunter-gatherers. It is possible instead
to imagine acceptable and even inviting ways in which humanity could adapt
to ecological limits while further developing cultural richness, scientific
understanding, and quality of life (more of this below).*

*But however it is negotiated, the transition will spell an end to economic
growth in the conventional sense. And that transition appears to have

On Sat, Aug 15, 2009 at 2:23 AM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> Michel-
> With all due respect about the value of peer economies, this is an issue of
> free markets and resources that conventional economists are right about
> (ignoring all the things they are wrong about or ignore like externalities,
> systemic risks, democratic implications of wealth concentration, war
> incentives, increasing unemployment and starvation amidst plenty, etc.)
> Markets (when functioning) respond to scarcity by improving efficiency,
> finding substitutions, paying for innovation, or by changing other
> priorities, or doing something else.
> Points #2 and #4 of what you list are the important ones (substitution and
> innovation).
> If we can produce an infinite supply of oil if we want, like with algae and
> seawater, or with carbon fixation powered by solar panels, then where is the
> limit? Those will become cheaper than the cost of pulling the last hard to
> get oil out of the ground or out of tar sands, and so we will never run out
> of oil. :-)
> Helium I'm more worried about, but even there, since we can get helium out
> of the air, we will never run out of it either. We may need to change
> various industrial and scientific processes though -- and in ways that may
> be more disruptive than oil limits because few people are worrying about the
> helium crisis.
> When we have hundreds of years worth of coal at our current energy useage
> amounts, Peak Oil is just a statement about mercury etc. pollution from coal
> and the desecration of the land by mountaintop removal, really. An important
> statement, but not a crisis in any way like what Peak Oilers make out. Come
> on, WWII Germany almost took over the world using coal; and seventy years
> later we should be scared on not having enough oil? Doesn't make any sense.
> Switching to coal would be inconvenient to the tune of trillions of US
> dollars, and cost lots of lives in terms of pollution and mining accidents
> (unless we automated mining, which we know how to do) but on the scale of a
> US$60 trillion annual global economy, hardly noticeable in some ways.
> Naturally, I'd prefer we switch to renewables for all the market failure
> reasons I listed above (external costs, democratic issues, distribution of
> affluence, minimize system brittleness, etc.) and the market is not able to
> price those in without government or peers stepping in to to regulate,
> affect, or bypass the market with their own plans.
> With the exception of helium that floats away, there are no resource crises
> I can see that are not solvable in fairly straightforward ways.
> --Paul Fernhout
> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
>  Michel Bauwens wrote:
>> Sorry Paul,
>> but the argument that oil is not finite is just fallacious
>> just take any of his 6 points and not one of them is not seriously
>> problematic, it almost seems like he is joking
>> 1) it is not finite because we cannot count them///!!!
>> 2) it is not finite becuase it can be replace by vegetables which compete
>> with the food supply ...???!!!
>> 3) the EORIE on tar sands is extremely bad and environmentally destructive
>> 4) it is not finite because we can REPLACE it with something else ?????
>> etc ... I don't any of this would pass a beginner's logic class ... if the
>> post-scarcity thesis has to rely on these kind of arguments, the situation
>> is desperate indeed ...
>> Please check the Peak Oil tag in delicious, it has plenty of material, and
>> peak oil is now accepted, by both the EIA and the US DoE .. they both
>> predict that future supply will be increasingly short of demand and become
>> more expensive as time goes by ...
>> On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 9:56 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
>> pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>> Michel Bauwens wrote:
>>> Hi Paul,
>>>> is chapter 11 is anything to go by ... Julian Simon's book must be total
>>>> crap  ...
>>>> http://www.juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/
>>>> OK, so where do you disagree with, say, this:
>>> """
>>>  You may wonder whether "non-renewable" energy resources such as oil,
>>> coal, and natural  gas differ from the recyclable minerals in such a
>>> fashion
>>> that the non-finite arguments  in earlier chapters do not apply.
>>>  Eventually
>>> we'll burn all the coal and oil that powered these impressive advances,
>>> you
>>> may be thinking.  But our energy supply also is  non-finite, including
>>> oil
>>> as an important example. That was not a misprint. In chapter 3  I showed
>>> that it is necessary to say how one would count the amount of a resource
>>> if
>>> one  is to meaningfully say that the resource is finite.  Therefore,
>>> let's
>>> consider the  following sequence of difficulties with respect to counting
>>> the amount of oil.  As with  other resources, careful thinking leads to
>>> the
>>> conclusion that the potential amount of oil - and even more, the amount
>>> of
>>> the services that we now get from oil - is not finite.
>>>  (1) The oil potential of a particular well may be measured, and hence it
>>> is limited  (though it is interesting and relevant that as we develop new
>>> ways of extracting hard-to-get oil, the economic capacity of a well
>>> increases). But the number of wells that will  eventually produce oil,
>>> and
>>> in what quantities, is not known or measurable at present and probably
>>> never
>>> will be, and hence is not meaningfully finite.
>>>  (2) Even if we unrealistically assume that the number of potential wells
>>> in the earth might be surveyed completely and that we could arrive at a
>>> reasonable estimate of the oil that might be obtained with present
>>> technology (or even with technology that will be  developed in the next
>>> 100
>>> years), we still would have to reckon the future possibilities  of shale
>>> oil
>>> and tar sands - a difficult task.
>>>  (3) But let us assume that we could reckon the oil potential of shale
>>> and
>>> tar sands. We would then have to reckon the conversion of coal to oil.
>>> That,
>>> too, might be done, but the measurement is becoming increasingly loose,
>>> and
>>> hence less "finite" and "limited."
>>>  (4) Then there is the oil that we might produce, not from fossils, but
>>> from new crops - palm oil, soybean oil, and so on. Clearly, there is no
>>> meaningful limit to this source  except the sun's energy (land and water
>>> are
>>> not limits - see chapters 6 and 10).  The  notion of finiteness is making
>>> ever less sense as we proceed.
>>>  (5) If we allow for the substitution of nuclear and solar power for oil
>>> -
>>> and this  makes sense because what we really want are the services of oil
>>> and not oil itself - the notion of a limit is even less meaningful.
>>>  (6) Of course the sun may eventually run down. But even if our sun were
>>> not as vast as it is, there may well be other suns elsewhere.
>>>  The joke at the head of chapter 3 makes the point that whether there is
>>> an "ultimate" end to all this - that is, whether the energy supply really
>>> is
>>> "finite" after the sun and  all the other planets have been exhausted -
>>> is a
>>> question so hypothetical that it should be compared with other
>>> metaphysical
>>> entertainments such as calculating the number of angels that can dance on
>>> the head of a pin. As long as we continue to draw energy from the sun,
>>> any
>>> conclusion about whether energy is "ultimately finite" or not has no
>>> bearing
>>> upon present policy decisions.
>>> """
>>> I think Julian Simon's philosophy goes wrong in issues like natural
>>> biodiversity (until we gene-engineer new animals), social equity (until
>>> we
>>> have a basic income), and the systemic risk of global war (an external
>>> cost
>>> of war being profitable, which it is hard to eliminate until we move
>>> beyond
>>> the market entirely to local production and a peer-based gift economy).
>>> But
>>> the core idea of the market *eventually* adjusting to scarcity by
>>> changing
>>> pricing structure and investing in alternatives seems sound, absent
>>> special
>>> interests or government backed monopolies. From Brittle Power:
>>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power
>>> "Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security is a 1982 book by
>>> Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, prepared originally as a Pentagon
>>> study, and re-released in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. The
>>> book
>>> argues that domestic energy infrastructure is very vulnerable to
>>> disruption,
>>> by accident or malice, often even more so than imported oil. According to
>>> the authors, a resilient energy system is feasible, costs less, works
>>> better, is favoured in the market, but is rejected by U.S. policy. In the
>>> preface to the 2001 edition, Lovins explains that these themes are still
>>> very current."
>>> So, the production of better solar panels and wind power and alternatives
>>> is just proof of Julian Simon's point. The market is planning for and
>>> adjusting to an increasing physical scarcity of oil, which will
>>> ultimately
>>> make fossil oil fairly very cheap (but no one will want it, because it
>>> will
>>> be dirty, unhealthy, unaesthetic, immoral, etc. same as lighting homes
>>> with
>>> whale oil lamps instead of electric light bulbs these days). Granted, the
>>> market has to have a credible alternative to switch to, but solar and
>>> wind
>>> and other things are very credible at this point, so the switch will
>>> happen
>>> and is happening.
>>> Now, often the government supports the centralized technology for
>>> political
>>> reasons (like special interests):
>>>  http://www.runet.edu/~wkovarik/misc/blog/8.whaleoil.html
>>> "In 1860, the government determined which technology was best. The oil
>>> industry was the favorite, and in effect, it was born with the
>>> competition
>>> swept neatly away and the silver spoon of subsidy (or tax advantage)
>>> lodged
>>> firmly in its teeth."
>>> It has been hard for renewables to fight against all the government
>>> subsidies to the fossil fuel and nuclear interests. But they seem finally
>>> to
>>> be winning in the market, despite a playing field heavily tilted to
>>> fossil
>>> fuels and nuclear energy.
>>> By the way, some people think much oil comes from cosmic processes, not
>>> dinosaurs. Hydrocarbons are common in other parts of the solar system.
>>> So,
>>> there are both lots of them around (though hard to get at, and pointless
>>> to
>>> bring back to Earth, although using them in place may be a good idea).
>>> But,
>>> like the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones, we now have
>>> the
>>> solar electric option, like from Nanosolar, which will soon (two
>>> decades?)
>>> mean fossil oil is no longer used much, same as whale oil is no longer
>>> used
>>> much, and wood heat is no longer used much for industrial processes (some
>>> heat homes with wood still, of course).
>>> Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you could be specific about what you object
>>> to
>>> either above or in that chapter.
>>> --Paul Fernhout
>>> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> p2presearch mailing list
>>> p2presearch at listcultures.org
>>> http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/p2presearch_listcultures.org
> _______________________________________________
> p2presearch mailing list
> p2presearch at listcultures.org
> http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/p2presearch_listcultures.org

Work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhurakij_Pundit_University - Research:
http://www.dpu.ac.th/dpuic/info/Research.html - Think thank:

P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net

Connect: http://p2pfoundation.ning.com; Discuss:

Updates: http://del.icio.us/mbauwens; http://friendfeed.com/mbauwens;
http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/attachments/20090815/c79ace23/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the p2presearch mailing list