free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 29. COLIN CAMPBELL "LETS THE MATTER REST"

Thursday, August 18, 2005


One of the key assumptions of peak oil "die-off" theory is that there are too many people. Oil has allowed human population to balloon, and overshoot the carrying capacity of the earth. Therefore when oil production begins its steady decline, billions of people will have to die to bring humankind back into balance with nature.

According to the doomer hysterics, this is the gospel truth, and cannot be questioned. More sinisterly, they use this idea to justify authoritarian depopulation programs, and culling of the human herd, either as an act or mercy, or to eliminate burdensome and unfit humans.

This idea is not limited to the doomer riff-raff in internet chat rooms. It goes to the very top of the PO doomer movement: Colin Campbell.

Campbell is the founder of ASPO (Assocation for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas), and is widely respected as the elder statesman of PO today. He currently edits and publishes the widely read ASPO Newsletter from his website, and in the July 2005 issue, he ran an op-ed piece by Wiliam Stanton called "Oil and People". From the article:

To those sentimentalists who cannot understand the need to reduce UK population from 60 million to about 2 million over 150 years, and who are outraged at the proposed replacement of human rights by cold logic, I would say “You have had your day, in which your woolly thinking has messed up not just the Western world but the whole planet, which could, if Homo sapiens had been truly intelligent, have supported a small population enjoying a wonderful quality of life almost for ever. You have thrown away that opportunity.”

The Darwinian approach, in this planned population reduction scenario, is to maximise the well-being of the UK as a nation-state. Individual citizens, and aliens, must expect to be seriously inconvenienced by the single-minded drive to reduce population ahead of resource shortage. The consolation is that the alternative, letting Nature take its course, would be so much worse.

The scenario is: Immigration is banned. Unauthorised arrives are treated as criminals. Every woman is entitled to raise one healthy child. No religious or cultural exceptions can be made, but entitlements can be traded. Abortion or infanticide is compulsory if the fetus or baby proves to be handicapped (Darwinian selection weeds out the unfit). When, through old age, accident or disease, an individual becomes more of a burden than a benefit to society, his or her life is humanely ended. Voluntary euthanasia is legal and made easy. Imprisonment is rare, replaced by corporal punishment for lesser offences and painless capital punishment for greater.Source

This verbal sewage provoked quite an uproar, and one admirer of Campbell, a Ms. Caryl Johnson, urged him to disavow Stanton's proposals:

My second reason for writing is to express certain questions and concerns about the article printed in the July 2005 ASPO Newsletter, "Oil and People," by William Stanton. The step from Peak Oil to radical population control may not seem to be such a great one. But I think it is a huge, and unwarranted, step, and I would fear to have your name associated with it. You are too wonderful a man to risk the distortion of your realism by the "chilling logic" of lesser men, who might indeed use such convenient distortions to commit mass murder – by whatever euphemism for such deeds that might occur to them. For this reason alone I urge you to make a clear disavowal of Mr. Stanton's prescriptions – and urgently, in the next Newsletter.Source

In response to this, Colin Campbell wrote the following in an e-mail dated July 18,2005:

So far as the Newsletter is concerned, I think it is probably best to let the matter rest for the time being.(Same source as above)

No disavowal was printed in the August Newsletter. This was Campbell's only remark:

Item 573, in which William Stanton discussed the impact of declining fossil energy supplies on population, triggered a predictably vigorous response. One or two correspondents almost took offence both at the article and its inclusion in the newsletter, while others accepted the thrust of the argument, seeing its relevance.Source


At Friday, August 19, 2005 at 7:33:00 AM PDT, Blogger James Shannon said...

I suppose Campbell doesn't realize that throughout Europe, birth rates are all an all-time low. The epicentre for population problems are at the centre of most the world's current injustices: Africa.

So sad.

At Monday, September 12, 2005 at 7:41:00 AM PDT, Blogger Markku said...

The old-timers haven't yet grasped the new realities of population growth or soon-to-be lack thereof. Total fertility rates are plummeting almost everywhere, even in the Middle East where Iran's figure is already below replacement level, more precisely at 1.9.

At Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 1:53:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was an avid fan of the newsletters before that segment. I'm not anymore. I still read them, but with much less enthusiasm, always vigilant for more "verbal sewage". It was a very low point for the newsletter. :-(

Apart from being preposterous it was flat-out wrong on many central assumptions, such as assuming that in the future it will be impossible to build new wind turbines from the "tiny tricle" of electricity from other wind turbines. There is now 35 GW of installed wind turbine capacity in Europe, roughly ten times the consumption of Denmark, which just happens to produce almost half on the wind turbines globally. In fact, production of wind electricity sometimes exceeds consumption in Denmark.

I sat next to Colin Campbell at the closing dinner at a conference about a year ago. He is a very nice man, but I fear he's getting old. Hopefully that newsletter was a temporary lack of good judgement. However, CC himself believes that we should become more rural and leave consumerism behind.

To me, there seems to be an age dividend between the doomers I have met (50+) and my friends and myself (around 30) who see the future as bright and clear. Clouds are gathering and a brief shower may be on its way, but after that it's all sun shine :-)

JD, you are absolutely right that PO is being used (and abused) to push a lot of crappy agendas. Hell, I'm using it to push mine, which is renewable energy. I prefer renewable energy over coal for environmental reasons, but really what I'm trying to get across is the fact that renewable energy IS viable and will become even more so in the future. So don't worry, just be smart :-)


At Friday, February 17, 2006 at 6:27:00 PM PST, Blogger Rob said...

Hey, Alan -- how's about you first?


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