free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 299. RICHARD HEINBERG: JUST ANOTHER POSER

Monday, May 01, 2006


Yesterday, peak oil maharishi Richard Heinberg released his latest effort -- another blather salvo on the "population problem" called Population, Resources, and Human Idealism.

I can't say I was really surprised when Heinberg quoted the peak oil fascist manifesto by William Stanton which Colin Campbell printed in the ASPO Newsletter (see 29. COLIN CAMPBELL LETS THE MATTER REST):
In a more recent essay, "Oil and People," published in the ASPO newsletter #55 (July 2005) , Stanton writes:

So the population reduction scenario with the best chance of success has to be Darwinian in all its aspects, with none of the sentimentality that shrouded the second half of the 20th Century in a dense fog of political correctness. . . . 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.
Just to be clear, note that Stanton isn't advocating car pooling, better urban planning or ethanol as sensible responses to peak oil. He's advocating the wholesale murder of the elderly, handicapped and other "burdensome" humans. This would be the British equivalent of the Nazi T-4 program, which didn't go over too well even in Nazi Germany:
The Murder of the Handicapped

Wartime, Adolf Hitler suggested, "was the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill." Many Germans did not want to be reminded of individuals who did not measure up to their concept of a "master race." The physically and mentally handicapped were viewed as "useless" to society, a threat to Aryan genetic purity, and, ultimately, unworthy of life. At the beginning of World War II, individuals who were mentally retarded, physically handicapped, or mentally ill were targeted for murder in what the Nazis called the "T-4," or "euthanasia," program.

The "euthanasia" program required the cooperation of many German doctors, who reviewed the medical files of patients in institutions to determine which handicapped or mentally ill individuals should be killed. The doctors also supervised the actual killings. Doomed patients were transferred to six institutions in Germany and Austria, where they were killed in specially constructed gas chambers. Handicapped infants and small children were also killed by injection with a deadly dose of drugs or by starvation. The bodies of the victims were burned in large ovens called crematoria.

Despite public protests in 1941, the Nazi leadership continued this program in secret throughout the war. More than 200,000 handicapped people were murdered between 1940 and 1945.Source
What does Heinberg have to say about all this? Well... he definitely doesn't distance himself from it. He quotes Stanton with respect -- calling him a "thorough and proud Malthusian", and even claims that Stanton isn't a fascist: "The proponents of fascistic "solutions" (I'm not suggesting that Stanton is in that category, by the way)".

Kind of makes you wonder what you have to do to be a fascist in Heinberg's book.
Apparently it isn't enough to advocate the elimination of human rights, medical slaughter of the elderly and handicapped, abortion at gunpoint and the death penalty for animal rights advocates.

Yup, Heinberg has crawled into bed with Stanton, and they're having a cute little spooning session, but your know what? Who cares? Stanton, Campbell and Heinberg are all just a bunch of peripheral, wannabe vermin who have no pull whatsoever in the real world.

Obviously, Heinberg wants to attract attention and create a sort of "good cop/bad cop" effect. Listen up, he says, if you don't cooperate and do what I say, we're going to loose the dogs like Stanton on you. We need to get that population down, by hook or crook, and we can do this the easy way (which Heinberg doesn't specify) or we can fire up the ovens. The choice is yours.

Well, here's my choice, Richard. I'm going to completely ignore you, like the skinny, impotent, milk-toast liberal you are. When you make up your mind what you stand for, I'll pay attention. If you want to advocate for voluntary population control measures which respect the human rights of the persons concerned -- who cares? Nobody disagrees with that. If you want to go further and push authoritarian one-child programs, or start killing retards with Willie Stanton, be my guest. Go on CNN with your "program". You'll be razzed and ridiculed as a lunatic. Personally, I don't think that'll happen though. I don't think you've got the nards for anything more than vague generalities and poetry readings.
-- by JD


At Monday, May 1, 2006 at 10:16:00 PM PDT, Blogger BlackSun said...

Heinberg typefies the peak oil view in a nutshell: that humans should give up, roll over, and play dead.

A recent commenter on Black Sun Journal had the following to say:

"All of the above options will only delay the end of the energy-intensive modern technological civilization. A day will come when humans will run out of options and have to accept the reality that our lifestyle is over."

"Struggling to preserve a failed system will only prolong the suffering. It is best for humans to end the war against nature by surrendering."

This pretty much sums up peak-oil doomthink. It's wishful thinking propounded by many who also consider humans to be a "plague" upon nature. They don't see their obvious fallacy of separating humans from nature--when humans are in fact a part of nature.

That aside, Heinberg and his bed-buddies are trying to create a Utopia in reaction to their perception of the negatives of modern society. Their primitivism is a religion. Peak-oil and economic ruin are their savior. Technology that could easily solve the energy problem is their devil.

Like other religions, theirs is completely immune to reason.

At Monday, May 1, 2006 at 10:27:00 PM PDT, Blogger Paul Ramsey said...

It is worth reading the (pretty bland, boring, relatively content-free) Heinberg article itself (JD kindly provides link at top), to get an extra good feel for just how over-the-top JD has gone in this posting.

The dissing really makes the post, I think ("skinny, impotent, milk-toast liberal"!). JD clearly missed his calling as a gansta rapper, or talk radio impresario.

At Monday, May 1, 2006 at 10:46:00 PM PDT, Blogger EnergySpin said...

Don't know what you think Paul, but anyone who does not think that Stanton promotes fascist ideas is either a) deluded b) in bed with or c) does not know what fascism really is.
Which one is it then?

Heinberg read some rather interesting stuff which roughly translate to putting nature over human rights (instead of the more appropriate i.e. a clean environment is a human right).
But then again, he has another book to sell ...

At Monday, May 1, 2006 at 11:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger EnergySpin said...

Oops proofreading errors

Don't know what you think Paul, but anyone who does not considrer Stanton's ideas a "sweet light fascist crude distillate" is either a) deluded b) in bed with him c) does not know what fascism really is.
Unless I am missing something, these 3 exhaustive (but not mutually exclusive) events completely characterise Heinberg's sample space. So which one is it (multiple questions are allowed)?

Heinberg also wrote some rather interesting stuff which roughly translate to putting nature over human rights (instead of the more appropriate i.e. a clean environment is a human right).
But then again, he has another book for sale ... and may I say that we just read an excerpt from that book?

By the way, Heinberg lost all credibility in my eyes when I decided to check out his (ridiculous) EROEI claims about alternate power systems. For example ,
a)wind is heavily quoted as having an EROEI of 2+ (Odum's outdated emergy data) and the Danish LCA's studies (which were definitely not a couple) are only briefly mentioned.
b) nuclear is quoted as having an EROEI of "low" (talk about a honest exposition)
c) solar PV receives a far better treatment but solar thermal electricity is not mentioned IIRC.

There are other problems with the whole "oil was a one time /squandered gift- now we are all going to die" meme that stem from the very nature of the energy analysis that "doomers" are quoting. For example, an exergy analysis (the only real way to ground EROEI to the 2nd law of thermodynamics) would quickly do away with the notion of oil's superiority uber alles (wind/nuclear or even the humble thin solar PV). But that would require a little bit more mental effort, quality-time at the library, an understanding of statistical mechanics and above all a willingness to think (and write) in an objective manner.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 2:19:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

JD must know the traditional rule that invoking Hitler and the nazi's in a discussion automatically disqualifies one from further debate. Hence, 299 should be regarded accordingly?

I'm reading Heinberg's 'Party's Over' book at the moment and it it's well written and thought provoking. I highly recommend it.

JD demonstrates he has fallen in with the anarchist crowd, the same people who would call Kofi Annan one of the ringleaders of a 'Global Government' seeking to kill 80% of the population. The Club of Rome and the UN, the New World Order, etc. To JD, anyone who would suggest humanity as a whole *could* be guided in any way towards a 'brighter future' is a Nazi. JD prefers 'natural' population controls such as famine and pestilence over 'fascist' engineered controls such as birth control and immigration regulation.

Tell me JD: is family planning a fascist policy? It's just you have me confused about your position in all of this.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 2:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger EnergySpin said...

jev wrote:
"JD must know the traditional rule that invoking Hitler and the nazi's in a discussion automatically disqualifies one from further debate."
Who came up with such a rule and when?
History is not relevant any more?
Or the Holocaust never happened?
Bye ...

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 3:06:00 AM PDT, Blogger goritsas said...


"Who came up with such a rule and when?"

Take a gander here.'s_law

No one said history wasn't relevant. Only that once a thread reaches Hitler or Nazi, the thread has no further value.


At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 5:27:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

JD must know the traditional rule that invoking Hitler and the nazi's in a discussion automatically disqualifies one from further debate.

Hi jev. Yes I am quite familiar with Godwin's Law, and couldn't give a whiz about it. The fact that you invoke it is just further evidence that the "population control" advocates are nothing more than a bunch of apolitical dweebs playing a game of circle-jerk on the internet.

JD demonstrates he has fallen in with the anarchist crowd, the same people who would call Kofi Annan one of the ringleaders of a 'Global Government' seeking to kill 80% of the population. The Club of Rome and the UN, the New World Order, etc.

I don't recall saying anything about anarchism, Kofi Annan, the UN or the New World Order.

To JD, anyone who would suggest humanity as a whole *could* be guided in any way towards a 'brighter future' is a Nazi.

No, actually I use the term very narrowly to refer to people who think we should gas the retarded and elderly.

JD prefers 'natural' population controls such as famine and pestilence over 'fascist' engineered controls such as birth control and immigration regulation.

I don't recall saying that birth control or immigration regulation are fascist. In fact, birth control is fine by me as long as the affected persons are free to refuse it. Immigration regulation isn't a problem either provided its fair and you can pass it democratically.

What I said was that calls to jettison human rights and exterminate retarded/elderly people are fascist. Do you disagree? Or word you rather hide behind juvenile internet games like Godwin's Law?

Tell me JD: is family planning a fascist policy?

Not at all -- provided it's voluntary and the affected persons have the right to refuse. I clearly stated my agreement with such measures in the original post.

jev, people like yourself truly are a crew of pathetic internet mastubators. Your tales about the impending famine/pestilence die-off don't faze me in the least because I don't believe them. They're just a product of your overstimulated imagination. Malthus predicted die-off 200 years ago, and we're still here, flipping him the bird. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich informed us that: "By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people." He was wrong too. You people have always been, and always will be, wrong.

To sum up, scaremongering by people like you and Heinberg simply doesn't scare me. I live in a country where the population is already declining, so your hysterical worries don't play well here. There was no pestilence, no famine and no need for harsh measures of any sort. IMO, that is the path that the rest of the world will soon follow, so I'm not concerned.

Don't waste everybody's time by posing and pretending you disagree with me. If you want to push sensible measures like birth control and women's rights, we have no disagreement, except maybe that you're pissing yourself with worry, and I'm not. If you advocate "hard" measures (murdering people, sterilizing people, authoritarian government etc.), than tell us what they are, and sign your real name to them, you chickenshit.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 5:38:00 AM PDT, Blogger EnergySpin said...

Looked at it ...
But it seems that you failed to read (or understand) the source you just quoted:
" It is precisely because such a reference or comparison may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that hyperbolic overuse of the Hitler/Nazi comparison should be avoided. "

So it comes down to the following question: was the comparison appropriate ?
I think so ...
Bye again goritsas ...

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 6:12:00 AM PDT, Blogger HedgeFund said...

Ever notice how those who advocate "population control", abortion, and euthanasia never apply it to themselves???

I am of the view that the worlds so-called "disabled" have contributed far more to society than Stanton has, or likely ever will. Here is a short list of famous disabled people to jog everyone's memory as to why we as a society do NOT want to go down the abort-the-baby-with-a-PERCEIVED-defect approach: Beethoven (deaf), Edison (partly deaf), Einstein (partly autistic), Henry Ford (dyslexic), Stephen Hawking (motor neurone disease), Isaac Newton (epilepsy), Da Vinci (dislexic), Charles Dickens (epilepsy), HG Wells (diabetes), Ray Charles (blind), FDR (polio later in life), John Milton (blind), Lord Nelson (partly blind later in life). The point being that the so-called disabled can contribute significantly to society and in the fetal stage none of us can predict their future contributions.

After one assimilates all the useful information on this site, one could conclude that people like Stanton are the ones with the defective genetic code.

So, by Stanton's reasoning, perhaps he should be one of the first to be removed from the population? Also, who gave Stanton the right to play God and decide who lives & who dies?

I'll reconsider the views of Stanton once he applies these views to himself. In the meantime, it looks to me like more of the "Do as I say, not as I do" stuff.

NOTE: Carl Sagan faced a similar test/dilemma late in his life regarding using medicine tested on animals. He failed the test -- three times. So, Sagan's actions tell us that using medicine developed via animal testing to save/prolong your life is actually OK. So, feel free to ignore ALL of the numerous public statements Sagan made to the contrary.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 6:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

JD, you're changing the subject and resorting to personal attacks that are funny - granted - but typical of the style of a projecting internet masturbator like yourself.

You put up a ridiculous strawmen, saying Heinberg has a fascist authoritarian agenda and then proceed with baseless accusations and - of course - more personal attacks.

You're rather happy about there being no famine, no pestilence on your doorstep. Good for you: you were born in the right place at the right time, like me. You don't know how lucky you are.

Developed countries have been 'exporting' shortages, wars, pestilence and famine to less developed nations for centuries. As long as we manage to keep doing that you have - as you say - nothing to be scared about.

Could Malthus and Ehrlich have projected a more widespread (and therefore more powerfull) increase of wealth and consumption throughout the world and might that be the reason they are so far off the mark? Perhaps if they had included in their calculations that 20% of the world population would *continue* to use 80% of the world's resources then their results might have come out different. But then people like you would have eviscerated them for assuming Americans have no inclination to let the rest of the world share their opulence.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will keep thinking about society and ecology and working at ways to lift up not just urban dandies like yourself, but a larger, broader part of the global community.

We'll leave you to enjoy watching Africa starve as your much touted market forces do their work and solve our luxury problems over the backs of 1 billion hungry human beings who never figure in the world of push-button economics you so extol.

Be warned however that the strife and chaos in large parts of the world is set to spill over to 'our world' at an increasing rate. And whether you like it or, resource shortages will put a fire under the ass of it all unless we find some way to share the dwindling carrying capacity of the world more evenly and more justly.

Your tired attacks on all manner of professionals who are openly and honestly trying to debate and formulate a plan of action of sorts are entertaining and thought provoking but without merit. You're barking up the wrong tree, as they say.

Who I am? Just someone who appears occasionally at any and all places where the future of the world is discussed. No need for further details. Besides, judging from your posts you seem to know me better than I do myself already. May chaos punish you to the extent that you did nothing to prevent it.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 6:53:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Energyspin, the point Godwin is making has nothing to do with Hitler per se. He is just warning us that appealing to emotion (which JD does by invoking Hitler and Nazism) seriously impedes the rational process of debate, and should be avoided.

Of course, appealing to emotion is a powerfull tool of the comedian, which is why JD cannot do without it. However, appealing to emotion is not strong way to support an argument, whether it's funny or not. We should realise that JD is a comedian and a rascal and judge him for his intellectual merit based on his arguments only. Being witty is no substitute for being wise.

>JD opens up another can of personal insults<

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 7:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Hedgefund, I was on a small tour of northwestern France a few weeks ago and I visited a fortress that had been the scene of heavy fighting around the turn of the first millenium. During one of the seiges, the commandant of the castle ordered all the 'useless mouths' inside the castle out into no mans land between the warring factions. About a hundred young and elderly villagers died slowly and painfully, having been rejected by both camps.

The point is that once serious shortages hit - for whatever reason - the rules of play within a community change and harsh decisions are made concerning who lives or dies. This is nothing new. Now the how and why of JD's unwarranted outrage:

Stanton argues obviously from a vista (he imagines) much like the battlefield of that ancient castle. He is talking about awfully hard decisionmaking under terrible conditions that we cannot imagine.

What JD abusively does is tear Stanton's words from deep within the context of such terrible decision making conditions and present them in the setting of the relative peace and calm we still enjoy today. No wonder Stanton is made to appear a dangerous lunatic.

Perhaps in 50 years it will turn out that some of Stantons recommendations concerning likely government policy going forward were not so far fetched as we might now think. We can only hope it won't come to that and thank Stanton for expressing his views. No rules against that (yet).

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 7:35:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

... unless we find some way to share the dwindling carrying capacity of the world more evenly and more justly.

jev, I hate waste, and I am certainly no advocate of the current state of affairs where the U.S. and other first world nations are wasting important resources on things like sprawl and obesity.

However, you are still dodging the question: Do you consider calls to exterminate the handicapped and elderly to be fascist?

I ask you that because you seem to be very eager to avoid and hush up discussion on that key point.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 7:56:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

However, you are still dodging the question: Do you consider calls to exterminate the handicapped and elderly to be fascist?

I ask you that because you seem to be very eager to avoid and hush up discussion on that key point.

Not at all. My bad to assume it goes without saying that it's fascist.

You call it a key point, but it's a point you've torn out of context. So bear with me as I approach this prickly subject from another angle.

Concerning the killing of the handicapped, don't be fooled thinking it's something the Nazi's or their ilk invented. Prior to modern times with pregnancy and childbirth having been institutionalised, medieval midwives were killing handicapped infants routinely. In fact, it is only our modern, wealthy society with it's plethora of state-run social and health care institutions that has made it possible for the handicapped and infirm to prosper.

So it is not fascist to surmise that - should state-run institutions dissappear in the future - the once popular practice of midwives quietly 'taking care of' handicapped children which of course ostensibly 'died at birth'.

Given there might come a time of socio-economic collapse, whether we then allow this practice of killing malformed children to again take place 'behind closed doors' or outfit our hospitals with the necessary rules and regulations to have the same effect seems somewhat arbitrary to me.

The point is things like euthanasia and so forth do figure - and have figured - in our society throughout history and it should be possible to argue for or against it now and in the future without being called a bloodthirsty fascist right off the bat.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 8:13:00 AM PDT, Blogger summerhome=wintersquat said...

I read the Heinberg piece too and kept waiting for him to distance himself from all the fascist quotes he was providing.

His basic thesis is that we need to curtail human rights in an effort to reduce population, so as to avoid the dystopian, fully fascist future that will result from there being too many people for the available resources.

In one section he provides a quoted list of factors that increase and decrease population. On the decrease side were all these wretched ways like famine, war, disease. Well, Heinberg, what about increasing funding for public education and social security for seniors, promoting industrialization, confront religious hocus pocus with science?

All those routes have proven to reduce fertility rates and they are not exactly a fascist club over the head.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 10:38:00 AM PDT, Blogger EnergySpin said...

Dear jev and goritsas,

Thank you for your insightful comments. I'm sure you have spent many hrs over these issues and even though I think the ROI of your brain power is 0.0000001 it does have a significant (positive) societal impact.
Not because it makes people "see the light", but because it makes people "see the dark". Doomer diatribes are the "surest bet" in terms of forcing people make an action plan/make up their mind.
From the bottom of my heart, I honestly thank you (and countless others) for making people embrace things such as a) nuclear power b) lots of wind farms c) biofuels d) conservation e) ambient IT etc etc
Now if you were to cut the BS and stop beautifying your "cull-the-herd" plans I could get people accepting more stuff including a) refresher courses on math so that b) they gain an understanding of the branch of physics that is abused by you guys the most: thermodynamics.
I especially thank you for the midwives/baby euthanasia vision and so does Monsanto and Novartis. GMO food does not look nearly as bad as your (and Richie's) vision for the future. For future reference please note that we reached Peak Midwives decades ago, so it might be better if you rephrased your plans in terms of RNs/NPNs or gynecologists.
Please ask your mentors (Stanton , Heinberg etc) to write even more "proud" Malthusian stuff: I want breeder reactors to start popping left and right. Reason (my approach) has failed me so far, but I can always count on you guys.
Concerned Citizen of the Evil Western Industrial World.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 11:30:00 AM PDT, Blogger goritsas said...

Dear Energyspin,

Please note: you asked "Who came up with such a rule and when?" All I did was point you to a reference detailing this.

I then suggested that history is relevant in any discussion. I also suggested the use of 'Hitler' or 'Nazi' generally renders a thread dead. Not necessarily in this case in particular.

Although clearly a giant in the pursuit of intellectual rigor, you may have mistaken the point I was hoping to make. For that I apologize. Simply the result of the almost pointless brain power ROI I posses. Should never have made the effort. But then, you already knew that. In fact, you already knew Godwin's Law. Grand Netizen that you are.

So, thank you for your compliments, but in future, please don't feel compelled to share them. Your far greater intellectual superiority is sadly overshadowed by an incredibly crass manner of presentation.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 12:57:00 PM PDT, Blogger Rob said...

Actually, that's "milquetoast", but why spoil a good rant? :-)

I would like to propose a corollary to Godwin's Law that goes something like

Whenever a proposed action or policy can, in fact, be shown to have been adopted by the Nazis, Godwin's Law no longer applies because the proposer is in fact behaving as a Nazi.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 1:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger Floccina said...

“Just to be clear, note that Stanton isn't advocating car pooling, better urban planning or ethanol as sensible responses to peak oil. “

I really like the understatement of above line. I think that we can sum up the more radical peak oiler’s position in this phrase: death before car pooling.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 2:08:00 PM PDT, Blogger Paul Ramsey said...

jev, with respect to your "Stanton argues obviously from a vista" point, you should take a moment and read the original article.

He is not hypothesizing about an unfortunately necessary "Darwinian approach" in some distant time, he is advocating it, as a plan of action. He worries that "the Western world’s unintelligent devotion to political correctness, human rights and the sanctity of human life" will get in the way.

This is one scary dude, and it would not surprise me at all if his closet included a snappy brown wardrobe.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 2:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger sameu said...

somewhat off topic
but JD what's up with all the insults?

playing at the man instead of the ball really undermines the stuff you write
(and that's something that applies to anybody)

just my two cent's

ow btw, I linked to your blog
Only because I think people need to take a look at both sides of the po debate

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 4:21:00 PM PDT, Blogger DC said...

Heinberg is a nutty dilettente passing himself off as an academic at Doomer Groupthink U (Is it even accredited?). What are his credentials again? Ah yes: "journalist, educator, editor, lecturer, and musician." How does this guy get away with pawning himself off as an energy expert? He warrants about as much credence as a Biology major from Bob Jones University.

At Tuesday, May 2, 2006 at 9:41:00 PM PDT, Blogger BlackSun said...

jev, like most if not all doomers, you've given up any hope that things can get better in the world. I've spent way too much time already arguing with your type. Why don't you go hang out over at Deconsumption, LATOC, Kunstlerfuck, or other places where they serve the die-anide laced kool-aid?

You're rather happy about there being no famine, no pestilence on your doorstep. Good for you: you were born in the right place at the right time, like me. You don't know how lucky you are.

Yeah right. It's hardly luck. Actually, we are benefitting from the actions of our ancestors who were smart enough to actually develop this world and deal with things like starvation, infant mortality, and preventable disease.

Your tired attacks on all manner of professionals who are openly and honestly trying to debate and formulate a plan of action of sorts

What plan of action? Wealth redistribution by force?? Forced relinquishment of northern hemisphere living standards? You whine and wail about the inequality. Grow the fuck up. Would you rather the ENTIRE world be starving instead of a billion people? In essence, that's another BIG part of the doomer religion--righteous indignation over human injustice: "Waaa. We haven't been fair to the impoverished masses, so we should all suffer--especially those who've benefitted the most."

It's simply Marxist rhetoric about class struggle dressed up in new clothes.

Preparing to implement death by decree due to failure of human imagination is nothing if not a finger in the eye of every creative and productive individual who's ever lived.

What you are really saying is equal opportunity death is better than living under inequality. Careful, you live in a rich country--it may be your own demise you're planning.

working at ways to lift up not just urban dandies like yourself, but a larger, broader part of the global community.

Brilliant. How do you expect to lift them up without sustainable and cheap energy? And if so, doesn't that also mean that the rest of the world isn't doomed?? Technology must be allowed to do its work. This can only happen without destroying the environment, by making capitalism sustainable through market pricing of externalities.

Whether governments decide to mandate this (such as enacting a widespread carbon tax), and how soon, will have a great deal to do with the depth and severity of any economic crisis or climate backlash we experience. But people will never stop eating, fucking, making war, or consuming.

And here's comes the fire and brimstone as a result. Doomers always hang themselves with their own rhetoric:

May chaos punish you to the extent that you did nothing to prevent it.

That sounds to me suspiciously like a curse or a prayer. All hail the church of doom....

What will happen to the world will happen because of millions of tiny individual decisions. jev, people want to live, and they want to prosper--and they're very good at it: put that in your crystal ball.

At Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 10:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger FeelingWierd said...

I have no idea if anyone is still reading this thread, but I would like to jump in with both feet and try to figure out where you guys are coming from.

Based on who you are bashing, I would guess I am a doomer in your eyes. Although I find the Marxist/Malthusian aspect of Peak oil to be repugnent. But, just like the Y2K event, there are always those that will try and hijack a movement for thier own social/power ends.

Let me just tell you want I think is happening, and you tell me on a scale of 1 to 10 how doomerish I am(10 being Mad Max).

I feel that we are approaching peak oil production/Nat Gas within the next 2-5 years, if we haven't already passed it. I feel that the Tar Sands in Canada, as well as the Shale in the Western States are all just a bunch of Bullshit. Sure it can be turned into energy. But why the hell would you. Basically they are taking perfectly good Natural Gas(stranded as of now), Burning it to take low quality shale and tar sands, and converting it into low quality Oil. Then taking that and refining it into Gasoline and whatever else. IT MAKES NO SENSE. The only way it makes sense, is if it's HIGHLY subsidised with Fiat Money, and paid for with current cheap energy inputs(that whole EROIE thing you guys seems to hate).

I think Nuclear has a place in the future, problem is how many?? If we are to go the route of France let's say, we would need to build somewhere on the order of 200-300 new reactors, or three times as many mini-reactors. Where does the concrete come from?? China and India and everyone else is building out just like we are. There are limits to the amount of Copper cabling that can be made(checked the copper prices on NYMEX Lately?). What about the fact that uranium and plutonium are also following the same peak curve as Oil/Nat Gas? Sure breeder reactors will work, but at what price? Don't get me wrong, if it'll keep the heat on and my kids alive, I'm all for it. But I am not a poly Anna. I deal in realities. And reality says to me, IT CAN'T be done. At least not in the time frame that is before us.

I don't buy into the "we'll be eating each other inside of a decade" doomer scenario no more than the Poly Anna version, that says methane hydrates will save us all.

This to me is reality. We as American's have been SPOILED ROTTEN. The level of "affluence" that we have attained is sickening. We took all of the truly hard work our forefathers did and sqandered it on a bunch of shit. The reality to me, is that the chickens are coming home to roost and that the western world is in for a world of shit. Because we have all been taught that it's a certainty that things will ALWAYS get better. And we have no concept(those not born of the Depression era),of what truly hard times are. I have no doubt that very hard times are ahead.

But this doesn't neccesarily mean the end of everything. On the contrary, these hard times will reforge our country into something stronger and hopefully resembling more the America of the 1800's(not energy wise). An America that saves and is prudent and is not foolish.

That's the problem I have with the western world, is that we are all a bunch of fools(me included). Because we are all walking off the same damn cliff together.

So I feel long term, that obviously humanity will get through this and in the end progress even further. But as history has always shown. The foolishness of an energy spoiled generation(s) will have to be taught yet another lesson. And that lesson is coming sooner rather than later in my opinion.

A doomer in NW Ohio

At Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 11:15:00 AM PDT, Blogger BlackSun said...


What you're saying sounds about right. We may need figure out how to live on, say 1/3 to 1/2 of the energy we have been used to.

So there will be a period of adjustment where we may have to get by with less. But then we will end up with better lives because we will have figured out how to be more efficient. Probably healthier, too.

You are totally correct, we are spoiled rotten. As far as all the mechanisms of debt, consumerism, etc. These are separate issues to be solved, and really have nothing to do with the energy transition.

Once we figure out sustainability, I'd conjecture that people will consume even more. After all, if it doesn't hurt the environment, then why not?

Consuming in and of itself is not a moral issue. It is the side effects that have been and continue to be the problem.

At Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 12:14:00 PM PDT, Blogger FeelingWierd said...

Well Blacksun, it looks like we are closer in thinking than I would have thought. Because I have always had a problem within the PO community, in that we seem to be inhabited by mostly left leaning environmentalist types. Who come to this issue with anti-market, anti-capitalist mindsets. This has always bothered me.

I,,, like them, see a big problem facing this country. And I feel it will take a big slap(punch,kick, brass knuckles) in the face of America and the industrialized world to wake up. But unlike the majority of Peak Oil advocates, I feel that human ingenuity will pull us up by our bootstraps and we will continue on. I have always had a problem with the Mad Max, die off scenario.

I do believe there will be a mass reduction in population. But like the former Soviet Union, this will be accomplished through attrition as opposed to facist death camps. As things degrade, those at the perifery of society will suffer first and the most. Infant mortality rates will again rise, and the ability of the elderly to live on near life support for decades, will no longer be available. People will just die when nature calls on them(or God if you believe as I do). There will be a return to a more natural human lifespan. This doesn't neccesitate a facist population control regime. It will just happen..

I do find much of what is written here to be very Poly-Anna'ish. But I also find much of the stuff to be overly pessemistic. The truth will be much worse in some ways, and much better in other ways, than any of us imagine..

My philosophy is this. ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES. I am positioning myself to not look much further than 2 years down the road. 2 years ago, I saw a huge bust of the housing market. I sold out and have been renting for almost 19 months now. I NEVER regretted that decision. I am learning how to grow veggies in my backyard, and will learn to can and bottle this fall. I am trying to reduce my energy bills by being aware of what I am using. I am looking into a woodburning stove for next winter and getting rid of 1 vehicle and considering biking to work this summer(if I can get transfered closer to home).

So I don't think we are that far apart on our views, at least as you have stated them.

I will keep checking back on this site, as it's a good cournter balance to the other things I read

Robert NW Ohio

At Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 1:01:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jev said...

Blacksun: being born in the prosperous first world is lucky, not so much the fact that people in the first world are prospering.

I noted the chaos in large parts of the world to offset JD's claims that 'all is well'. Throughout the last couple of decades the gap between the Rich and the Poor has widened further. This was even without (very)high energy prices.

Now to be clear: sharing wealth is not altruism, its prudence. You don't want the lower class to become so dismally poor that they might flock to the next Hitler or Lenin, do you?

I like your point that the world is governed by myriad individual choices by people who want to prosper. There's a lot in that statement, on which we could start a whole new thread probably. It might not lead quickly to conclusions you'd be comfortable with but it would be interesting nonetheless.

I like this weblog (or I wouldn't spend my time here now) and I have nothing but respect for JD's tireless work, his quality writing and his concern over the reckless way the PO problem is being taken for a ride by some. It's a pity that the link to this site was taken down from I guess they couldn't stand the relentless pummeling they've been getting any longer. Pity, I say. PO is a complex subject. It does not become more simple by ignoring views such are expressed by JD.

I don't see anything left to add to this thread. I guess we're agreed that Stanton has an extremely dark view of the state of the world? If you share that view than his methods may appear quite practical. If you don't than the guy may seem totally out of control. Personally, I think Stanton is way ahead of his time, or past it if you will. We haven't tried all the other options yet.

Peak Oil is the end of cheap energy, and the end of cheap energy is the end of cheap luxury. It all depends on how leveraged you are. And after all, hard work never killed anyone.

At Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 2:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger nukeengineer said...

Doomer Alert for you JD. Let's see you "debunk" the laterst from Hirsch:

At Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 5:42:00 PM PDT, Blogger James Shannon said...

@Jev: You sum up my approach to PO, as well as other challenges in life in your last sentence. Hard work never killed anyone. In fact, it may be what the doctor ordered for this society in general. We've grown accustomed to a push-button mentality to problems. Once confronted with reality however, there will be no viable option but to work together and do the hard work that needs to be done to attain social stability in the face of the new energy paradigm, whatever that may turn out to be...

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 10:50:00 AM PDT, Blogger Rik said...

For the record, mr doomer from Ohio: you can use thorium and seawater as well. I think the whole problem with the dieoff/doom/PO crowd is that they have never heard of technology or capitalism and think science is restricted to the US. A long historical view suggests, correctly I think, that - with highs & lows - humanity will always improve. The reality is that we're the Baron von Munchhausen: always pulling ourselves out by our own hair. If you don't believe that someone will - incrementally - well, too bad for you. Pollyanna? Why? Reasonable, I call it - not giving in to current irrationality.

As for high oil prices, I'd like to take the contrarian view: I think oil prices are way too high. If there is more than enough, if there's no worry about inventories, surely investors & traders will notice. Then again, $75 per barrel might be a perfectly sustainable plateau. Dystopia's, with collapse due to $160 per barrel or more, are not.

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 11:40:00 AM PDT, Blogger FeelingWierd said...


I'm not sure what you are talking about with Seawater. I googled Thorium to get an idea of what you are talking about. And I assume you are talking about using it as a replacement for uranium or in conjunction with it?

Last time I checked, there are NO Throrium reactors in general use in the world. Is this correct?

So what you are advocating is that there will be a world wide buildout of 1000's of thorium reactors? In an era of increasingly expensive and hard to find gerneral commodities. Copper is getting incredibly expensive. Concrete is becoming downright impossible to come by for large scale build outs. China is absorbing almost all the spare concrete manufacture in the world. Ask any builder about how much it costs to build anything now.. Prices are doubling and trebling in some cases year over year.

So what you are proposing is a worldwide buildout of nuclear/thorium reactors, in an era of expensive and evantualy a shortage of commodities, energy and labor??

And you don't consider yourself polyanna'ish..

Just accept that there is going to be a very very hard adjustment period. A time where we are going to have to learn to do with less as we figure out how all these new and wonderful energy sources can be employed. The time to do all this shit was 30 years ago. We waited to long to get started to avoid pain. We decided to use all our spare energy and resources building hummers and mcmansions instead of investing them in the future of energy. Now we will pay for our shortsidedness.

READ HISTORY, the past supports my view way more than yours. I am not saying we won't be better in the end. It's just that we'll walk down some dark paths before we get there, Such is life...

Robert NW Ohio

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 12:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger Freak said...

The China Bubble.

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 5:45:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Again with the cement/concrete garbage? I'd like to see JD work this one over with a pair of pliars and a blowtorch at some point. I'm getting sick of seeing it.

YES, there's a major concrete shortage and a huge gap in the supply/demand paradigm in the states. YES, China is willing to pay more and has caused a boom market for the material.

And most of all, YES, there are still a few hundred thousand bloated construction contracts being floated in the United States right now. People building shit for the sake of building it, running up the market costs and ignoring the potential for retrofitting older structures with new, energy-efficient features.

Apply some basic reason to the situation, for cripe's sake. If the government NEEDS concrete to build reactors, it's going to get it. Not fight for scraps along with contractors in Houston and Las Vegas who feel like building a new casino or fifty-square-mile housing patch. The United States produced 83 MILLION TONS of the shit last year ALONE, while greedily pipe-sucking up projects for 160 MILLION TONS OF IT.

There's your shortage. Idiotic planning, suburban sprawl, and the same, generally myopic "screw the markets, we're America and we need new shit" attitude that's going to bury us in a PO crisis.

You want a fix? Watch prices continue to skyrocket. Less building, less concrete usage, and MAYBE a more focused attention on alternative building materials and renovations.

This "Peak Concrete" bullshit is a page right out of Savinar's book, and I'm getting so tired of seeing it as an argument for for doomsday. It ain't happening. Find a new switch to flip.

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 6:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Oh. And the "Peak Copper" thing. Another one of Savinar's juba-juice mantras.

Depending on the chart, the United States is either the first or second-largest producer of copper in the world, tied with Chile at 18%. Who's next? Canada. Who I believe we have one or two invested interests in.

Now, how the hell anybody believes that we'd rather sell our resource cards out to another country rather than ration in a severe situation is way beyond my comprehension, but hell. Paranoia, hording instincts and raw human panic aren't common traits with objectivity. It doesn't serve the apoplepsy of POD to consider things like emergency rationing, project reapportioning, or market realignments.

Nope, we just barrel on until we're extinct. Hoo-rah.

A severe market upskein due to booming economies does not equate a shortage and the end of days, no matter how many times some Doomhead falls back on it. Sorry.

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 9:04:00 PM PDT, Blogger dub_scratch said...

nukeengineer wrote:

Doomer Alert for you JD. Let's see you "debunk" the laterst from Hirsch

I'll debunk your doomer alert in few words:
The Hirsch mitigations are all about how impossible it will be to maintain the National Traffic Jam with alternative fuels and alternative cars. It is like the Hirsch report that was released last year except it looks at actions limited to the US (were they expecting better results?).

Of course we are going to see the collapse of the car culture. But doomers make the mistake of confusing the necessities of an advanced civilization with one that zips around all day in their frivolous padded chariots. It's ironic that our supposedly energy enlightened folks amoung us forget that there is a long-long-longass way between squandering energy on needless driving and starving in the streets.

So Hirsch determined the car based economy is toast? Well dah?! I could have told you all that.

At Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 9:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

t's ironic that our supposedly energy enlightened folks amoung us forget that there is a long-long-longass way between squandering energy on needless driving and starving in the streets.

Give up my basic human rights to a 5-mph roadboat with gold-plated rims and shaped diamonds for headlights?


At Friday, May 5, 2006 at 5:01:00 AM PDT, Blogger FeelingWierd said...


I'll agree with you there. I am not saying WE CAN'T save ourselves. What I am saying is that I don't see anyone doing ANYTHING WHATSOEVER about it. The billion dollar casino's in vegas are still being built. We are still spending 10/100's of billions on road improvement and expansion, etc, etc etc. And you are dead right on about that being the reason for shortages.

If the government would just stop LYING to us and just level with America, we could do something about it. But the government is just hell bent on making sure Joe/Jane America is kept fat happy and stupid, right up until the whole fiat money laden system blows up in their faces...

Robert NW Ohio

At Friday, May 5, 2006 at 2:16:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Robert, the only thing that motivates change for the human condition are ultimately greed and survival.

While researching the facts about copper wiring, I found that there's a widespread agreement that aluminum alloys could work just as well as the current industry standards. It would just take research to get it done, creating a market parity.

But it doesn't happen, because there's no money to be made by it. Copper's cheap. Gas is cheap. Plastics are cheap.

The only thing that's going to kickstart innovations and second looks at our living standards are increased prices and economic competition. It's already happening, despite the doomer belief that suburbia should be burned down tomorrow for tomato crops. Slowly, yeah. Gradually, sure.

But here's the cold water for the one-day armageddon theory.

Apparently, according to, gas prices went down by nearly two dollars today. Did Iran produce more fuel? Did the ethanol changeover end? Did Saudi Arabia find a vast new field, and crack the valve on it?

No. People got their wallets threatened, and they adapted. The transition from foolish, wasteful usage to awareness and conservation caused a dip in demand, which affected the price of supply.

That's it works. All of it. You can't afford to build a new Wynn casino, you don't. The market dictates possibilities to humanity at large. Concrete, copper, uranium, gas. You can't get them cheap, you suddenly want to hear all about fuel cells and ethanol and solar power and thermal depolymerization. In a stable, feed-cattle market, these ideas have no place due to the fact that nobody thinks they NEED them, but tighten the thumbscrews a bit, and the entire mood shifts.

Once the transition in gas prices effects the pumps, people are going to get stupid and lazy again. But not all of them. If just 10% of those who made conscious efforts to roll back their fuel usage over the last few weeks stick with their guns, then it did something for the greater good. And this effect is only going to continue rippling as we see $4 and $5 gas this summer.

And hell, this comes from the biggest pessimistic, anti-social motherfucker you'll ever have the displeasure of sharing coffee with.

At Monday, May 8, 2006 at 9:08:00 AM PDT, Blogger FeelingWierd said...

Doubt you're still reading this thread Mel. But for what it's worth, I think I agree for the most part with you. I think what the doomers(am I becoming a recovering doomer?) fail to realize is that humans are adaptable. I agree like you, that PURE market forces will eventually level things out. But that level point is going to be a HELL OF ALOT lower than we are now.

My wife asked me Friday as we were driving along. "what would happen if we just stopped importing all this crap from everyone, and just lives on what we made here".

I thought that was a very good question, but I don't think she expected the answer. I told here, that I felt America has all of the resources it needs to protect and rebuild itself, without any imports. But the trade would be a 50 to 60% reduction in our standard of living. Probably kicking us back to the early to mid 40's level of consumption and lifestyle.

But really? Is that so bad? I think we as a country should consider just knocking ourselves back 2 or 3 pegs, so that we can eventually start moving forward again. Because most of the people on the Peak Oil websites I frequent, are for the most part socialist leaning. And they feel that this will be a permanent state of being. I have always disagreed. After getting our asses handed to us for a few decades, and our consumption comes into equilibrium with our supply. I would expect things to start up again, and like you said, people will get fat lazy and stupid again, starting the whole shit storm over again....

Robert NW Ohio

At Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 11:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mel. Hauser said...

Heya, Robert-

Chances are that you've moved on, but I did want to say that I agree with you wholeheartedly on these points. I think the ultimate remedy to fears about doomsday, die-off and the end of times is the same petty, stupid shit that got us into this mess in the first place. For me, it isn't the idea of advancement and innovation: it's simply that mankind's innate self-preservation instincts are so utterly dominant--mainfested in the current era by profits, the need to breed and own and keep up with the Jonses--that there's no way we can backslide into the Roman days. Peak Oil is a once-on-this-planet event, but I read six million articles a day about who's got the next big technology and who's pouring millions into it, and it makes me realize that it's also a chance for every grossero in the market to cram their way into a new mode of portfolio-fodder.

Look at the ethanol hustle. Is it part of a bigger solution for our problems? Maybe, depending on whose numbers you trust. But the motivation for politicos and major corporations to push into it ISN'T environmental concern OR national security. These are simply cute little decorative words that they're using to sell the public on it. And when the time comes for it to reach the pumps, we will buy. Our conscience will scream "we're saving the planet!" while we plod on into the next dumb fucking problem.

But for me, dieoff is giving people way too much credit. It's assuming that the global economy will simply balk and shrivel and not find a way to sell new beads to the natives when the clouds start to form, when everything in our history as a species contradicts that. We persevere because we're inherently grabby, weird, emotional things that strive endlessly for comfort. Not because we're a race of slackjawed quitters.

But I sincerely pray that we will learn to trim some of the fat, and that the cure for our ailments won't simply allow this socioeconomic freakshow to continue. We haven't done anything to earn it, and as long as that remains a foundation point, we'll just find new ways to fuck up everything we've been given.

I wish you the best of luck in your continuing conclusions on the issue.

At Friday, June 6, 2008 at 2:05:00 PM PDT, Blogger Eddie said...

Personal attacks on people with other view points simply diminish you and your view point. Argue the merits of the case for or against Peak Oil. I for one am trying to sort it all out and it's deflating when the debate about Peak Oil turns into some Holy War. If Richard Heinberg is wrong then argue the case, don't attack the man, attack his ideas. Anything else is juvenile and pointless.


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