Login Join IOPS

Your Oil Wake-Up Call

forest
  • Written by:
  • Published on:
  • Categories:
  • Comments:
  • Share:

[Posting this for Ted, the author, who is also a member of IOPS]




YOUR OIL WAKE UP CALL … (File under ignore.)


 


Ted Trainer


3.3.2017


 


Almost no one has the slightest grasp of the oil crunch that will hit them probably within one decade.  When it does it will literally mean the end of the world as we know it.  Here is an outline of what recent publications are telling us.  Nobody will of course take any notice.


 


It is gradually becoming understood that the amount of oil reserves and increases in them due to for instance fracking is of little significance; what matters is their EROI.  If you found a vast amount of oil, but to deliver a barrel of it you would need to use as much energy as there is in a barrel of oil then there would be no point drilling the field.  When oil was first discovered the Energy Return on Energy Invested in producing it was over 100/1, but Murphy (2013) estimates that by 2000 the global figure was about 30, and a decade later it was around 17. These approximate figures are widely quoted and accepted although not precise or settled. In other words oil is rapidly getting scarcer and more difficult to find and produce.  Thus they are having to go to deep water sources (ER of 10 according to Murphy), and to develop unconventional sources such as tar sands (ER of 4 according to Ahmed), and shale (Murphy estimates an ER of 1.5, and Ahmed reports 2.8 for the oil and gas average.)


 


As a result the capital expenditure on oil discovery, development and production is skyrocketing but achieving little or no increase in production. Heinberg and Fridley (2016, Fig 1.1) show that capital expenditure trebled in a decade, while production fell dramatically.  This rapid acceleration in costs is widely noted, including by Johnson (2010) and Clarke (2017).


 


Why can’t we keep getting the quantities we want just by paying more for each barrel? Because the price of the oil in a barrel cannot be greater than the economic value the use of the barrel of oil creates.


 


Ahmed (2016) refers to a British government report that “…the decline in EROI has meant that an increasing amount of the energy we extract is having to be diverted back into getting new energy out, leaving less for other social investments … This means that the global economic slowdown is directly related to the declining resource quality of fossil fuels.” 


 


Everything depends on how rapidly EROI is deteriorating.  Various people, such as Hall, Ballogh and Murphy (2009), and Weisbach et al. (2013) do not think a modern society can tolerate an ER under 6 – 10. If this is so, how long have we got if the global figure has fallen from 30 to 18 in about a decade?


 


Several analysts claim that because of the deteriorating resource quality and rising production costs the companies must be paid $100 a barrel to survive.   But oil is currently selling for c. $50/barrel.  Clarke details how the companies are carrying very large debt and many are going bankrupt; “The global oil industry is in deep trouble.” 


 


Why haven’t we noticed?  Very likely for the same reason we haven’t noticed the other signs of terminal decay… because we don’t want to.  We have taken on astronomical levels of debt to keep the economy going. In 1994 the ratio of global debt to GDP was just over 2; it is now about 6, much higher than before the GFC, and continuing to climb. Everybody knows this cannot go on for much longer. Debt is lending on the expectation that the loan will be repaid plus interest, but that can only be done if there is growth in the real economy, in the value of goods and services produced and sold …but the real economy (as distinct from the financial sector) has been stagnant or deteriorating for years.


 


The only way huge debt bubbles are resolved is via catastrophic implosion. A point comes where the financial sector realizes that its (recklessly speculative) loans are not going to be repaid, so they stop lending and call in bad debts … and the credit the real economy needs is cut, so the economy collapses, further reducing capacity to pay debts, in a spiral of positive feedback that next time will deliver the mother of all GFCs.


 


There is now considerable effort going into working out the relationships between these factors, i.e., deteriorating energy EROI, economic stagnation, and debt. The situation is not at all clear. Some see EROI as already being the direct and major cause of a terminal economic breakdown, others think at present more important causal factors are increasing inequality, ecological costs, aging populations and slowing productivity.  Whatever the actual causal mix is, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that within at best a decade deteriorating EROI is going to be a major cause of enormous disruption.


-----


 


But there is a far more worrying aspect of your oil situation than that to do with EROI.  Nafeez Ahmed has just published an extremely important analysis of the desperate and alarming situation that the Middle East oil producing countries are in, entitled Failing States, Collapsing Systems, (2016). He confronts us with the following basic points:


 


-      In several countries oil production has peaked, and energy return on oil production is falling. Thus their oil export income is being reduced.


 


-      In recent decades populations have exploded, due primarily to decades of abundant income from oil exports. The 1960 – 2014 multiples for Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria, Egypt, India and China have been 5.5, 4.6, 5.3, 4.2, 3.4, 3.0 and 2.1 respectively.


 


-      There has been accelerating deterioration in land, water and food resources.  If water use per capita is under 1,700 m3 p.a. there is water stress.  The amounts for the above countries, (…and the % fall since 1960), are Yemen, 86 m3 (71% fall), Saudi Arabia 98 m3 (82% fall), Iraq 998 m3 (88% fall), Nigeria 1,245 m3 (73% fall), Egypt 20 m3 (70% fall). Climate change will make these numbers worse.


 


-      So, more and more of the falling oil income now has to go into importing food.


 


-      Increasing amounts of oil are having to go into other domestic uses, reducing the amounts available for export to the big oil consuming countries.


 


-      In many of the big exporting countries these trends are likely to more or less eliminate oil exports in a decade or so, including Saudi Arabia.


 


-      These mostly desert countries have nothing else to earn export income from except sand.


 


-      Falling oil income means that governments can provide less for their people, so they have to cut subsidies and raise food and energy prices.


 


-      These conditions are producing increasing discontent with government, civil unrest, and conflict between tribes over scarce water and land. Religious and sectarian conflicts are fuelled. Unemployed, desperate and hungry farmers and youth have little option but to join extremist groups such as ISIS where at least they are fed.  Our media ignore the bio-physical conditions generating conflicts, refugee and oppression by regimes, giving the impression that the troubles are only due to religious fanatics.


 


-      The IMF makes the situation worse. Failing states appeal for economic assistance and are confronted with the standard recipe; increased loans on top of already impossible debt, given on condition that they gear their economies to paying the loans back plus interest, imposing “austerity”,  privatizing and selling off assets.


 


-      Local elite authoritarianism and corruption make things worse. Rulers need to crack down on disruption and to force the belt tightening through. The rich will not allow their privileges to be reduced in order to support reallocation of resources to mass need. The dominant capitalist ideology weighs against “interfering with market forces”, i.e., with the freedom for the rich to ‘develop’ what is most profitable to themselves.


 


-      Thus there is a vicious positive feedback downward spiral, from which it would seem there can be no escape, because it is basically due to the oil running out in a context of too many people and too few land and water resources.


 


-      There will at least be major knock-on effects on the global economy and the rich (oil-consuming) countries, probably within a decade. It is quite likely that the global economy will collapse as the capacity to import oil will be greatly reduced. When the fragility of the global financial system is added (remember, debt now 6 times GDP…), instantaneous chaotic breakdown is very likely.


 


-      Nothing can be done about this situation. It is the result of ignoring fifty years of warnings about the limits to growth.


 


-----


 


So the noose tightens, around the brainless, taken-for-granted ideology that drives consumer-capitalist society and that cannot be even thought about, let alone dealt with.  We are far beyond the levels of production and consumption that can be sustained or that all people could ever rise to. We haven’t noticed because the grossly unjust global economy delivers most of the world’s dwindling resource wealth to the few who live in rich countries.  Well the party is now getting close to being over.  You don’t much like this message …well have a go at proving that it’s mistaken.  Nar, better to just ignore as before.


 


If the foregoing account is more or less right, then there is only one conceivable way out. That is to face up to transition to lifestyles and systems that enable a good quality of life for all on extremely low per capita resource use rates, with no interest in getting richer or pursuing economic growth.


 


There is no other way to defuse the problems now threatening to eliminate us, the resource depletion, the ecological destruction, the deprivation of several billion in the Third World, the resource wars and the deterioration in our quality of life. Such a “Simpler Way” is easily designed, and built…if that’s what you want to do.  (See thesimplerway.info/) Many in Voluntary Simplicity, Eco-village and Transition Towns movements have moved a long way towards it. Your chances of getting through to it are very poor, but the only sensible option is to join these movements.


 


Is the mainstream working on the problem, is the mainstream worried about the problem, does the mainstream even recognize the problem …? I checked the Sydney Daily Telegraph yesterday: 20% of the space was given over to sport.


 


                                                            -----


 


Ahmed, N. M., (2016), “We Could Be Witnessing the Death of the Fossil Fuel Industry—Will It Take the Rest of the Economy Down With It?”, Resilience, April, 26.


 


Ahmed, N. M., (2017), Failing States, Collapsing Systems, Dordrecht, Springer. Alice Friedmann’s summary is at http://energyskeptic.com/2017/book-review-of-failing-states-collapsing-systems-biophysical-triggers-of-political-violence-by-nafeez-ahmed/


 


Clarke, T., (2017), “The end of the Oilocene; The demise of the global oil industry and the end of the global economy as we know it”, Resilience, 17th Jan.


 


Friedmann, A., (2017), “Book review of Failing states, collapsing systems biophysical triggers of political violence by Nafeez Ahmed”, energyskeptic   http://energyskeptic.com/2017/book-review-of-failing-states-collapsing-systems-biophysical-triggers-of-political-violence-by-nafeez-ahmed/


Hall, C. A. S., Balogh, S. Murphy, D. J. R., (2009).  What is the minimum EROI that a sustainable society must have? Energies, 2, 25–47.


 


 


Heinberg, R., and D. Fridley, (2016) Our Renewable Future, Santa Rosa, California, Post Carbon Institute.


 


Johnson, C., (2010), “Oil exploration costs rocket as risks rise”, Industries, London, Feb 11.


 


Murphy, D. J., (2013), “The implications of the declining energy return on investment of oil production”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, December 2013.DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2013.0126          


 


The Simpler Way website is: thesimplerway.info/


 


Weisback, D., G. Ruprecht, A. Huke, K. Cserski, S. Gottlleib and A. Hussein, (2013), “Energy intensities,  EROIs and energy payback times of electricity generating power plants”, Energy, 52, 210- 221.


 


Discussion 34 Comments

  • Bat Chainpuller 8th Mar 2017

    I wrote a big response to this but just canned it. Everyone always seems to blame the ordinary folk for not doing enough. Too much sport! Yeah, well I like my football, surfing and watching people climb vertical cliff faces with no ropes. Makes me forget. Change ain't going to come from the masses or the ordinary folk. Yeah, they may go to some rally or protest or even occupy something for a while but that shit isn't going to cut it anymore. There needs to be a strong coalition of high profile well credentialed, good communicating, radical activists who have stepped out beyond their own pet projects, and initiatives, personal desires and efforts to form a united radical activist front with real intellectual pull and weight and with real energy, with a massive visionary component that comes from all the visionaries getting together and forming a visionary league, a united visionary front.

    If that doesn't happen you can forget it. I'm going to watch a whole lot of idiots defy death now, surfing Teahupoo in Tahiti, because I want to forget all this gloom for now because this is the shit i read all the time.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 8th Mar 2017


    So, seems like a six of one, half a dozen of the other situation...

    If trainers analysis of this is true, which I'm assuming he's done his research...then for all to survive, it's a given we all need to live simpler...but if the corporations don't stop their complicity to extract, dominate, war, pollute, etc...it'll get to a point where there won't be the means to spread resources around equitably anymore...and the shit will really hit the fan...
    So it's the chicken or the egg...
    whose going to cut back first and the other will be forced to follow, even if it's kicking and screaming...?
    Or we'll all continue to stay in denial till global warming kicks all our asses...
    That's probably more likely...
    We're pretty much fucked either way...I think I'll take up sports...

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 10th Mar 2017

      Thanks Kristi, know how you/we feel.

      Both chicken and egg, rather than either/or?

      In 1988-91 most of the people in the Soviet empire ceased believing in it and simply walked away from it (into a new illusion of course, but hey, that seems to be how history works...). Result (with a little bit of help from the conflicted ruling class top in Gorbachev): the empire collapsed with as good as zero bloodshed.

      I wonder what would happen if enough people did the same for the empire of consumer capitalism?

      (The notion of mass voluntary slavery as the key to ruling class hegemony probably goes back to my fav 16th century French anarchist, the very young friend of Montaigne, Etienne de la Boitie. Emma Goldman came around to the same view after a lifetime of fruitless militancy, pissing against the wind and leftist 'betrayals'...)

  • Bat Chainpuller 8th Mar 2017

    I don't really question Ted's figures or anything. I can't really. I just accept them. But of course nothing will happen via mainstream anything. If voluntary simplicity, eco-villages and transition networks are the most sensible options and people should or must join them, just saying it in an essay won't do anything. So how is this shift to be achieved? And there is much other stuff to consider than just going simple. That's too simple. I don't believe the simplicity movement or eco-billages or transition networks have it all coherently worked out. Without some strong visionary alliance or coalition that delves into all economic possibilities, their positives, nuances and interelatedness, just saying we must go simple isn't enough.

  • Lambert Meertens 8th Mar 2017

    The accuracy of the figures depends on the quality of Ahmed’s work, which I cannot judge, in particular the extrapolation of the development of the EROI for fossil fuels.

    The conclusion, if I may call it that, that our only sensible option is to join movements like Voluntary Simplicity, Eco-village, or Transition Towns, is a bit weak. As if individually “getting through to it” is the only or most important consideration for a sensible individual. Isn’t joining and helping to build an organization dedicated to global revolution in order to avert or mitigate a global catastrophe and win a better world for everyone also a “sensible option”?

    I see a silver lining in the oil crunch scenario if it hits us within one decade or so. Yes, it will spell the end of the world as we know it. But the world “as I know it” is an increasingly evil place. Not only is the consumption of fossil fuels out of hand, but it looks like everything is getting out of hand. Most people who are concerned about the future of humanity are most concerned about climate change. But if the oil crunch hits us as severely as sketched within a decade, it will probably mean we stop emitting greenhouse gases in time to avoid hitting a tipping point and lasting catastrophic climate change – which will be worse than the oil crunch scenario.

    Personally I’m most worried about how the authorities are increasing the security grip on the population and redefining active opposition as a criminal act. I sometimes wonder if the powers behind the scenes realize that the world is headed to disasters that will lead to massive uprisings, and that they are therefore developing the technology to quench even the largest revolts. Or is it all just unplanned and coincidental? In any case, if the world runs out of oil without replacement, there will be a massive uprising, and if this comes to pass as soon as sketched, the advanced global security apparatus that can stop this will not already be in place.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 9th Mar 2017

      "But if the oil crunch hits us as severely as sketched within a decade, it will probably mean we stop emitting greenhouse gases in time to avoid hitting a tipping point and lasting catastrophic climate change – which will be worse than the oil crunch scenario."

      I don't think the oil crunch would in any way impact on the likelihood of 'hitting a tipping point and lasting climatic damage' without an absolute hitting of ALL fossil fuel brakes and greenhouse gas emissions right now, Lambert, i.e keeping all coal in the ground, reducing natural gas emissions, halting all unconventional fossil fuel production (tar sands, coal seam gas etc). Given that oil is only a part of the mix, to get back to 350 ppm or limit to 1.5 degrees of warming emissions will take a helluva lot more than rising oil prices...Peak oil does not mean no oil all at once, it means skyrocketting oil prices and all the complex ramifications of that.

      I think the 'advanced global security apparatus' is already well in place.

    • Lambert Meertens 11th Mar 2017

      Much depends on how quick the crisis scenario unfolds, and to what extent industry leaders have foreseen and prepared for it. Given enough time together with timely action, gasoline guzzling cars can be replaced by cars that run on coal well before the gas prices become unaffordable. My assumption was that most will be taken by surprise, though, and have not prepared for substitution.

      What would happen if we suddenly run out of oil? I cannot easily find reliable data for the global situation, but for the US – which may be roughly indicative – about 75% of greenhouse gas emissions is due to burning oil (mainly in the forms of gasoline and LPG). Of that amount, at least 40% cannot readily be replaced by coal or other fossil fuels. A complete oil crunch would therefore directly give a 30% reduction.

      So what will happen if oil is available but only at exorbitant prices, and the prices go up so quickly that it is too late for planned substitution? An indirect consequence will be an unprecedented economic slump resulting in severely reduced production in most industrial sectors. The effect may be much stronger than any direct effect of burning less oil. All together, I think a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is not implausible – which is, at least according to many climate scientists, also what is needed to maintain a steady state in which the global absorption equals the emission.

      Yes, we already have a somewhat advanced global security apparatus, but considering what soon will be possible thanks to the wonders of technology, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 8th Mar 2017

    Are people angry that I posted Ted's article I wonder? Judging by some of your responses, camerados, Ted's stuff always seems to press a lot of defensive buttons, including mine.

    Despair, anger, sorrow, deflection, grief, displacement... How to deal with arising emotions online? How to breathe deeply and try to listen to each other? How to read what Ted or any writer actually says rather than what one thinks he says and what he does not say (e.g. Bat, he does not link 'too much sport' with 'ordinary people not doing enough' here, what he does mention is the 20% the Daily Telegraph devotes to sport )?

    Lambert: Ted is someone who has written more against simple individual solutions than most I know, against the system-blind limitations of pure permaculture in the 80s, against the system-blind limitations of the Transition movement...

    Four of us here, four, maybe two or three more later. Lambert, is this what you mean by being more useful, by joining/building 'an org dedicated to global revolution'? (No sarcasm, I really mean it).

    Is it perhaps worth trying to find some commonalities first before laying on the critiques? Respecting where the writer happens to be coming from? Thinking back into IOPS' early days, many in IOPS always seem to have had a bit of a problem with that...

    More fundamentally re these matters. Despite all our worthy ideas, is it perhaps worth admitting, together, that no one at all has any damn clue whatsoever about how things can deeply change in time to prevent chaos and collapse?

    Then perhaps moving from that not-knowing into something more surprising, creative than our usual worn tracks, who knows...

    Just asking. Shalom.

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Mar 2017

      Yeah, I know about the sport thing Peter. I know he was just pointing out mainstream media devote whatever to it. I read a lot f this stuff. Samuel Alexander, Ted in the past and others, constantly warning with a sense if urgency...Oaul Street does it...to ke it is depressing and does elicit anger andcfrustration and a sense if guilt. I'm not going to deny that stuff...but these essays alone don't do anything and won't, in my opinion...they just depress. But I can't refute them necessarily because I ain't no scientist and don't have the time to research the figures myself, nor can I be bothered. So I trust Ted. Ted's probably right, as is Samuel Alexander et al. But I am now of tye opinion unless there s some sort of united visionary front and coalition of the radical willing going full firce at the mainstream media, anoter essay with marginal visibility usn't going to do it...ten years ain't enough time toget done what he says...it isn't...unless.

      I don't doubt necessarily the research or the message but I question the vision and the lack of any real unitary radical force pushing for change among those of Ted's ilk...those with good communication skills, knowledge, passion and persuasion, that's all.

      Of course you should post this stuff and anything else and of course I will respond, or not, in my fashion, eliciting whatever response from whoever...that's what conversation is...I think.

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Mar 2017

      Try again with corrections and a little extra!

      Yeah, I know about the sport thing Peter. I know he was just pointing out mainstream media devote whatever to it. I read a lot of this stuff. Samuel Alexander, Ted in the past and others, constantly warning with a sense of urgency...Paul Street does it...to me it is depressing and does elicit anger and frustration and a sense of guilt. I'm not going to deny that stuff...but these essays alone don't do anything and won't, in my opinion...they just depress. But I can't refute them necessarily because I ain't no scientist and don't have the time to research the figures myself, nor can I be bothered. So I trust Ted. Ted's probably right, as is Samuel Alexander et al. But I am now of the opinion unless there is some sort of united visionary front and coalition of the radical willing going full force at the mainstream media, another essay with marginal visibility isn't going to do it...ten years ain't enough time to get done what he says...it isn't...unless.

      I don't doubt necessarily the research or the message but I question the vision and the lack of any real unitary radical force pushing for change among those of Ted's ilk...those with vision, good communication skills, knowledge, passion and persuasion, that's all. Without that sort of front, it isn't coming from the ordinary worker or punter and an essay like this will just depress them without an accompanying strong coherent alternative delivered by a strong visionary front, so sport will be where they stick their heads, not sand.

      Of course you should post this stuff and anything else and of course I will respond, or not, in my fashion, eliciting whatever response from whoever...that's what I do and that's what conversation is...I think. I will be myself.

    • Lambert Meertens 11th Mar 2017

      I feel that people who write about the scope and scale of the problems facing humanity and see the role of the blind monster that the political-economic system has become, have a moral duty to use their podium to advance the viewpoint that a fundamental change is urgently necessary. Now one way of doing that is to call, ”revolution!”. But that is not helpful. For most people that is not sufficiently concrete. In general, expositions of doom scenarios should not stop at painting how bad it will and how urgently change is needed, but also indicate what we can do. You can’t get off the sofa, run out in the streets and start the revolution. Instead, the authors can offer their audience the advice to join an organization – not just any organization, but one that aims for a solution to the problems. IOPS is one such organization. There are others, although I’m not aware of others that are organized internationally.

      I’m sure Ted Turner knows very well that the problem cannot be solved individually. But in this specific essay the author falls short of my expectations by writing that the only sensible option is joining movements that seek a way out by advocating a sustainable lifestyle based on a small communal scale. I find that a disappointing conclusion, because that is very obviously not going to solve the problem given its size and the length of the window of grace we still have.

  • Bat Chainpuller 9th Mar 2017

    There are enough visions already. From social democracy and basic incomes to complete revolutionary shifts like Parecon and everything in between. The mainstream ignores them as well as warnings of impending catastrophe.

    But George Lakey and his viking economics should be getting together with Takis Fotopoulos, who should be connecting more with Albert and Hahnel, not criticising them and Z, who also should be gathering up Erik Olin Wright and all his students at the Real Utopias Project, who should be saying to David Schwieckart that Parecon is NOT nonsense on stilts, who further should be getting the leading figures from the solidarity economics movement together with all the friggin' anarchists who wrote The Accumulation of Freedom, like Wayne Price, who thinks Parecon valuable, and the P2P folk, along with Marxist visionary pushers like Harvey and Callinicos and other high profile anarchists like Graeber, who's been to Rojava, and all the voluntary simplicity, eco-village and transition network figureheads, and the social ecologists, among all the other visionary wannabes at the Next System Project and beyond, and creating their own WIKI or powerful, high profile participatory site with complete/total marginal left media website support. One that presents a united front and is absolutely relentless TOGETHER in pushing what is needed, at the mainstream.

    They SHOULD be doing this rather than allowing souls like Brand, who has access to the mainstream, to go it alone, not fully armed and with nowhere to turn for back up or point when cornered. At least he went out there and put his friggin' neck on the line.

    But of course, I'm talking junk. What's needed actually are just small invisible marginalised groups trying to organise and prefigure on a small local level with very little virtual world interaction. Viva the invisible. Of course. Go figure.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 9th Mar 2017

      Great idea, that website, Bat, said so before. So are "small invisible groups marginalised groups trying to prefigure on a small local level", usually with quite a lot of 'virtual world interaction' among themselves BTW (just like the virtual online left ghetto).

      But why disparage one of the two? Why so often the either/or, good/bad-stupid, instead of the both/and, grey/grey, I wonder? Need wideness, even contradiction, not exclusion. Need to breathe.

    • Bat Chainpuller 10th Mar 2017

      I don't disparage the other small group on the ground active always thing. The other is the norm. Always there. Been going for centuries. We need other kind that we don't have.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 9th Mar 2017

    I'm with ya bat...it's apparent on a personal level, how even broaching the topic of alternatives to capitalism is met with incredulity...and while I'm getting better at explaining my audacity...much as I learn and depend on iops, if there were one solid organization like you describe, with all the heavyweights doing the dialectical thing, that I could recommend to the skeptical but concerned...it would certainly go a long way to backing me up...
    But what are the odds...it would still take intestinal fortitude to read and comprehend...and sports are infinitely more exciting/distracting...

  • Rod 9th Mar 2017

    Nice article. I'm a bit skeptical about his predictions of a crash within a decade, but it has raised my interest in peak oil again. I'll try to do some research if I can find the time. Will be a nice thing for the wiki :)

    Btw. if true it sounds like really good news to me, but that's because I've set most of my hopes on a major global crisis to really get a revolution going.

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Mar 2017

      Oh my, it could be mayhem!

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K6T1Xzda6cM

      People are a waste of food
      You'll never hear the end
      They're only ever happy
      When they're burying their friends
      And they take take take
      But they never take a hint
      The ice caps getting skinny
      Still they're not concerned
      They're very near extinct

      People are a waste of food
      The end is nearly nigh
      They've always said the sky would fall
      Now it is you have to wonder why
      You want to shrink your stinky footprint?
      Get your tubes tied
      Or even better yet
      Go commit suicide
      They can't say you didn't try

      And oh my
      Well i hear the sound of horses' hooves
      Come the middle of the night
      And oh my
      Its time to get your gun license
      I see four horsemen riding through
      A cold and endless night

      If money is the root of evil
      Fear of death is worse
      This mortal coil is not a test
      And you can't hide in a purse
      So don't go casting no dispersions in the street
      Cause the half the world that starves
      Will know the half you're in
      Does not deserve to eat

      And oh my
      Well i hear the sound of horses' hooves
      Come the middle of the night
      And oh my
      It's time to get your gun license
      I see four horsemen riding through
      A cold and endless night

      People are a waste of food
      Don't bother learning Chinese
      Thou shalt find oneself perturbed
      By less verbose calamities
      Just get some Heinz baked beans
      A 12 gauge, bandolier and tinned dog food
      We'll eat your dog, bury our dead
      Or eat them instead
      That's entirely up to you

      And oh my
      I hear the sound of unshod hooves come the middle of the night
      And oh why
      Well, from now on 'til your grandkids finally get what you deserve
      I'm going to be stuck here with you wookies
      Eating fortune cookies
      Until my guts churn

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jxj5wlXY9No

    • Rod 9th Mar 2017

      Thanks Bat, nothing like a depressing song to lighten up one's mood :)

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Mar 2017

      Yeah but the guitar sound and Gareth's voice are cool and Imelda May makes you want to dance...no?

    • Rod 9th Mar 2017

      No she doesn't, I'd much rather spare myself that embarrassment. The Drones song is pretty cool though.

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Mar 2017

      Understood!

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 9th Mar 2017

      Thanks Rod. Re Peak Oil (conventional and unconventional oil), you might be interested in what Richard Heinberg (Peak Oil theorist since about his 2003 book The Party's Over) recently wrote:

      "I think it’s very likely that global oil production will hit its maximum in the next 2, 3, 4 years. I’ve become very hesitant about making predictions like that after the last number of years, because I’ve been writing about peak oil since my 2003 book, ‘The Party’s Over’.

      In that book I endorsed the views of the French petrologist Jean Laherrère who said that global conventional oil production would probably peak sometime around 2005-2010, which it did, and that that would incentivise the production of more unconventional oil, which is exactly what we’ve seen with US tight oil production, Canadian tar sands and so on. And that unconventional production would probably peak sometime around 2015. It seems to me that events are confirming his forecast.

      Therefore world oil production is probably hitting its maximum right about now, you know, give or take a few years. That’s going to have immense implications for the global economy, and certainly for the US economy. I don’t think Donald Trump understands any of this. There are some people who are advising him who do, but whether their efforts to influence his thinking are successful or even meaningful, I don’t know. Nevertheless this is a big turning point in history.

      Oil is very hard to substitute. It runs the global economy and without increasing oil production it’s very difficult to imagine the global economy continuing to grow. That in turn has enormous implications for investments, for stock markets, and therefore also for jobs and wages and the things that most people care about. So we’re at a big inflexion point, and to have someone like Donald Trump in charge of this fragile moment in history…

      On one hand it’s entirely understandable, because people feel that things are going wrong, and therefore they’re willing to vote for somebody who is basically promising just to bring down the temple and create a lot of chaos. But on the other hand, having someone like that in charge at this moment in history is very worrisome, because things could be done potentially in a much more sane and humane way than we’re likely to see."

      Afraid I don't share your optimism regarding such a social catastrophe for 'really getting a revolution going'. I'd argue fear and panic are usually not optimal preconditions for any emancipatory, anti-authoritarian, participatory revolution but ideal ones for authoritarian, xenophobic, proto- or fully fascist ones. I think we're seeing the early signs for this already. Wilders soon in your neck of the woods...?



    • Rod 10th Mar 2017

      I agree on fear and panic, but I'm not sure if most activists are really helpful on that front :) My stance might perhaps help combat the fears of social catastrophe more than worrying about what is to come.

      It's also a matter of priority though. There's a potential of significant long term damage if nothing happens now. How significant that danger is may not be clear, but the long term implications of species extinction and serious climate change go far beyond any social upheaval that we might experience in the short term (and it's not clear whether we can avoid that anyway).

      So we'll see, but I think we'll have to come to terms with negative things coming our way whether we can accept them or not. Our choice at this point seems to have become one of lesser evils.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 10th Mar 2017

      Yep, Rod, yep.

      Not just long-term future damage, it's already massively happened (1 degree of warming and 50% loss of species since 1950, planetary overshoot by one-and-a-half planets etc etc).

      Re 'priorities', don't think one can really separate the eco-climatic upheaval from the social upheavals. No healthy biosphere, no healthy society except maybe one that's finally collectively (?!) decided to engage in radical ecological remediation and sustainable management. And vice versa: our sick society equals a sick biosphere.

      Re the 'negative things coming our way', viz my comment to Dave below...

      Interested in what you may mean more specifically by needing to choose 'one of lesser evils', could you elucidate that a bit Rod?

    • Rod 11th Mar 2017

      As I see it, we face a dilemma between long term and short term well-being and survival. If we want to ensure the earth will be a friendly place to live in a 100 or 1000 years into the future, we should push for a fast-paced contraction of the economy so the planet doesn't heat up too much (2 degrees at this point has become a pretty ambitious goal). If we want to do our best to prevent crises from occurring in the near future we have to slow down the contraction (for instance by burning more coal as oil peaks) so that poor people aren't hurt as much in the near term.

      The lesser evil in this case would in my view be a short term crisis, if it could help us keep the earth within relatively safe boundaries in the long term. Obviously we should push for as much aid for the poor as possible, but given the current entrenched inequalities it will be a hard battle to fight.

      It seems important to manage our expectations, so we don't have unrealistic goals and won't panic when things take a turn for the worse for a while.

  • Dave Jones 9th Mar 2017

    Revolutionaries should be promoting managed contraction and retrenchment. Selling the fact we have a plan for the inevitable crunch/crash/whatever. (We do have plan, right?) I was always skeptical of peak oil claims and think EROI has some complex variables that make it a less-than straightforward predictor as well.

    But the general idea of facing grim news is necessary. I saw a survey showing a big percentage of Americans believe in AGW but they don't believe it is immanent. So we haven't done a good job in conveying urgency or the science of tipping points/ feedback loops. Probably cause Big Green hates to sound gloomy doomy when asking for money. "Yeah, we just need a few solar panels and some insulation...."

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 9th Mar 2017

      Thanks Dave. I'm with ya: "Revolutionaries should be promoting managed contraction..." Not many doing it as far as I can see, not really a a stance many revolutionaries have themselves, not a very popular stance anywhere:

      Workers of the world unite coz less is more! Living more simply so others may simply live! Cows and Computers for all! Reparations to the Poor World! Tear up the Roads and Plant Vegetables! Neither Primitivism nor Digital Self-Alienation and Total Surveillance!...

      I've always wondered and have no answers: If oil is in almost everything from smartphones and computer networks to food and renewable energy to jetting overseas for some 'ecotourism' or a left-wing conference, and oil prices go through the roof and growth economies contract as they must, and refugees flee increasing resource wars and droughts and famines, then where does that put things like a Guaranteed Minimum Income or total automation for example? Would this sweep away the very foundations of a hi-tech economy? Lotsa questions, and many more. Civilisations have collapsed and regressed before, only this collapse would be global...

    • Bat Chainpuller 10th Mar 2017

      Some good questions there from Peter that require that visionary league symposium discussion get together beyond personal preference go hard at the mainstream website.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 10th Mar 2017

      visionary league symposium, c'est nous

  • Caragh - 10th Mar 2017

    Hi Peter,

    thanks for posting this. Its a wonderfully clear article.

    :)

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 10th Mar 2017

      Thanks Caragh, you're welcome

      (old school fuddy duddy obsolesced courtesy anarchism as he whips off the coat and throws it to the ground to let the lady step across the puddle as he hums zappa and the sex pistols from their combined ethereal reprise album in godless heaven, non venceremos!)

    • Caragh - 11th Mar 2017

      Aluta continua!

      Go courtesy anarchism go!Or shall we call it chivalry optimism just to be vague :)

      We can weep to king crimsons epitaph and then I can give you a punnet of tomatoes. Its very scary the climate change - my home city of cape town only has 100 days of water left at the moment.

      And on that let them eat cake kind of reality- the only zappa I ever had on vinyl- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-6U0ccc_Hg Hands coat back after sending it to the dry cleaners. Grin.

      And here is some melancholia for all those that just want to feel human but cant process the climate change- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN1s5obitsc

  • Dave Jones 10th Mar 2017

    My wife agrees with Peter on the "fear and panic" thing, believes those who would defend the dying system are more bad-ass, better armed, less squeemish around a Hobbesian knife fight and surviving on dog meat. Probably right.(usually is)
    But then again, we may be a bit overly invested in our dystopian fanatasies. As we articulate some alternative scenarios we admit history has its own set-up. Hollywood doesn't always get it right either.
    The salient point is, we do a disservice to workers by pretending everything will be fine with our "just transition", they can slide smoothly from their coal mining job into building wind towers and not miss a payment on their SUV. We should be honest and say shit is going to get weird on a big scale.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 10th Mar 2017

    Watch out, I feel a total agreement coming on.

    And what about the notion maybe of building support groups to help us all get through this both psychologically and materially as the shit well and truly hits the fan, and I don't mean that me-first Hobbesian survivalist prepping crap either...Local and glocal IOPS)?