free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 318. RICHARD "POL POT" HEINBERG

Monday, December 03, 2007


During his time in power Pol Pot imposed a version of agrarian collectivization whereby city dwellers were relocated to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labour projects, conceived as a restarting of civilization in "Year Zero."
--Wikipedia article, Pol Pot

In the Dec. 2007 issue of his Museletter, Richard Heinberg* channels Pol Pot, and gives us his new-age version of the "Year Zero":
Because ecological organic farming methods are often dramatically more labor- and knowledge-intensive than industrial agriculture, their adoption will require an economic transformation of societies. The transition to a non-fossil-fuel food system will take time. Nearly every aspect of the process by which we feed ourselves must be redesigned. And, given the likelihood that global oil peak will occur soon, this transition must occur at a forced pace, backed by the full resources of national governments.


Without cheap transportation fuels we will have to reduce the amount of food transportation that occurs, and make necessary transportation more efficient. This implies increased local food self-sufficiency. It also implies problems for large cities that have been built in arid regions capable of supporting only small populations from their regional resource base. In some cases, relocation of people on a large scale may be necessary.


It will be necessary as well to break up the corporate mega-farms that produce so much of today's cheap food. Industrial agriculture implies an economy of scale that will be utterly inappropriate and unworkable for post-industrial food systems. Thus land reform will be required in order to enable smallholders and farming co-ops to work their own plots.Source

*) For those of you just tuning in to the peak oil issue, Richard Heinberg is author of "The Party's Over" -- a popular peak oil primer. Like a number of others, Heinberg is a fearmonger attempting to advance an extremist agenda under the pretext of peak oil.
by JD


At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 6:30:00 PM PST, Blogger Rishabh said...

I love Heinberg's Peak Oil credentials: M.A. in Leadership. Teaches at a small liberal arts college in Northern California.

At Monday, December 3, 2007 at 9:32:00 PM PST, Blogger ReserveGrowthRulz said...

Whats wrong with those credentials? Sounds about par for the course when dealing with the social commentators.

As long as you recognize that those credentials are the equivalent of Brittany Spears in the real world you understand the quality of the perspective.

At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 3:57:00 AM PST, Blogger Joris van Dorp said...

"Forced to move", as in 'at gunpoint', or as in 'for economic reasons'?

Cutting wellfare at one point for those unemployed who won't budge from urban areas while there are plenty of rural vacancies doesn't seem too unacceptable to me. If you can create those rural vacancies just by forcing agribusinesses to go organic, still no problem IMO.

But I agree that to roll out extreme and murderous Khmer Rouge-like policies in order to 'protect' the people would be nonsense.

I doubt that Heinberg has such an extremist agenda, although I am not sure he has thought about all the implications and risks of his proposals. I'd like to see his reaction to your above post, JD.

At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 9:25:00 AM PST, Blogger popmonkey said...

i doubt that he'd do anything. he'd ignore it, 'cause he can't backpedal or try to tone down these consistently caustic views of his.

he's always been a crackpot, i think now that peak oil has entered the mainstream (although paris hilton still trumps peak oil in google trends), a lot of the saner peak oilers try to distance themselves from kooks like heinberg and savinar (and mr. paranoid, rupert)

guys like that don't worry me one bit. i wonder if people said that about hitler tho...

P.S. JD, could you remove the anonymous option from the comments, i'd like the opportunity to discuss some of the comments from the slew of anonymous folks from time to time but right now i'd be forced to say "anonymous #7 said: blah blah blah"...

At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 10:16:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like being anonymous, but I'd never tried the Nickname feature ...

At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 12:06:00 PM PST, Blogger Syn Diesel said...

This fetish goes WAY back for Richard. Jeff Wells has some interesting thoughts on Heinburg's deeper motivation. Wells has a unique approach of combining modern angst with timeless High Weirdness (UFOs, Faeries and 9/11 - do I have to mention any more?) Always a fun read.

Btw, I seemed to have been primed by synchronicity to check in today (last I remembered ya'll shut down last year) after watching CSPAN's BOOK TV coverage of a talk given by Ben Kiernan on his new book Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur. Lot's of commentary about the agro-pastoralist / agro-fascist / antiquity's golden age fetish pre-occupation with the Extermination Fans throughout history. More things change...

At Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 12:09:00 PM PST, Blogger Syn Diesel said...

Book TV entry on above mentioned book.

At Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 9:59:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heinberg likes living in a high energy consumption society. If the wide-eyed students (and other credulous folks) buy his books and take them seriously, that's their problem.

"You first! (suckers!)"

That's what all of these "back to the land" primitivism promoters are muttering under their breaths.

At Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 4:41:00 PM PST, Blogger Syn Diesel said...

Just like Al Gore's Megawatt House and Jim Kunstler jet-hoppin' across the country doing his good works. Although Al Gore does have an underground ManBearPig tracking lair so that's ok I guess.

At Friday, December 7, 2007 at 1:33:00 AM PST, Blogger gsanford said...

I see a lot of personal attacks against him, but not a lot of alternate options for peak oil being presented. If someone really thinks a market-based solution will lead to the die-off of billions of people, twiddling your thumbs might be a lot worse in the end.

At Friday, December 7, 2007 at 8:38:00 AM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, but Heinberg has hardly proved his point to an extent that most, if any, rational people are willing throw out all sense of humanity because of the merely possibility of "die-off."

If you're going to take an extreme stand, you better have some pretty good evidence to back your position up. Heinberg does not.

At Friday, December 7, 2007 at 9:31:00 AM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

And Blogger,

It is simply unnecessary (and indeed impossible) to disprove Heinberg. You can't prove a negative (e.g., that unicorns do not exist). I can't prove that Heinberg is wrong.

But he's the one taking a crazy point of view, and the onus is on him (or his followers) to show that he right. No one needs to present "alternate options" until Heinberg can convince people that there will in fact be die-off.

At Friday, December 14, 2007 at 2:03:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about fear mongering. The leadership of Pol Pot produced a massive exodus of people from the cities to rural areas based on a twisted and murderous interpretation of Maoist agrarian reform.

What followed was the systematic killing of hundreds of thousands of people, who were shot, bludgeoned with metal pipes to save ammo, tortured to death, etc. Go visit the Killing Fields, or the S-21 prison sometime to get a taste.

Where in his statements does Heinberg promote anything remotely like this? It's clear to me he's speaking about what we might find necessary in the coming transformation of society he envisions. I've read some Heinberg, but I must have missed the chapter where he advocates genocide.

If you want to be taken seriously by adults, and perhaps some of what you say should be, I'd try to do without this type of "sarcasm." It's infantile, pointless, silly, and belittles any valid points or insights you might have.


At Friday, December 14, 2007 at 4:57:00 PM PST, Blogger JD said...

Where in his statements does Heinberg promote anything remotely like this?

In July 2005, Colin Campbell printed a piece called "Oil and People" by a man named William Stanton in the ASPO Newsletter. In this piece, Stanton advocates abortion at gunpoint and wholesale murder of the elderly and handicapped as a response to peak oil. (For details, see 29. COLIN CAMPBELL "LETS THE MATTER REST".)

You know what Heinberg had to say about that? Heinberg calls Stanton a "thorough and proud Malthusian" and 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)". (For details, see #299.)

Forced abortion, and a Nazi program of terminating burdensome humans do not qualify as fascist in Heinberg's book. That says it all as far as I'm concerned. He had the opportunity to unambiguously denounce that kind of thinking, and chose not to. At best the man is a mush-mouthed coward and an enabler for wannabe mass-murderers.

Now he's singing the praises of Castro's Cuba, and talking about "forcing" mass relocations of people onto private agricultural land which has been appropriated by the government. You're trying to put lipstick on a pig. The man is a bolshevik.

So you can take your cheesy little "Ta" and stick it up your f*cking ass.

At Friday, December 14, 2007 at 5:25:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, can you provide a source to Heinberg's complete statement regarding Stanton?

Can you provide a source supporting your contention that Heinberg is "singing the praises of Castro's Cuba?" Is he, in fact, praising Castro for his authoritarianism, or is he praising the Cuban people's response to their own experience with Peak Oil?

Can you provide a source for Heinberg's advocation of "forced relocations?"

I never put lipstick on a pig, or even defended Heinberg. I was critical of your absurd comparison between him and the genocical maniac, Pol Pot. I suggested that, if you want to be taken seriously by adults, you might want to exercise a bit more dispassion and objectivity.

Now, I can see that dispassion and objectivity aren't your strong suits, and you're more interested in your "ground and pound" operation than you are in contributing to a meaningful debate.

This is too bad, because I, like many others, appreciate varied opinions and input on such an important issue.

And, if you want to say fucking, then just say fucking. No need to censor yourself with an asterix, like some kind of fucking p*ssy.

Ta and ta.

At Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 9:40:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heinberg is a certifiable loon. He believes Cheney orchestrated 9/11.

At Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 1:46:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with previous comments that if you want your point to be taken seriously then quit with the personal attacks and get to the point. I really did hope that I would be swayed by the debunk theories and get on with consuming like a good little citizen but nothing here changes my mind that we are heading for a fall.

Chicken little

At Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 6:19:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you can create those rural vacancies just by forcing agribusinesses to go organic, still no problem IMO."

Gun point it is then; if you tried something like that you better be prepared to defend your life.

Half the worlds population wouldn't be here without haber-bosch. Mining fossilized bat-poo, pot-ash(must not remove the contaminants, that makes it not organic and against the organic religion) and using manure from vast herds of cows that wouldn't exist without conventional farming is not sustainable.

Apart from being genocidal it will increase consumption of precious water, fuel and land resources; decrease food security(having a surplus and trade routes allows you to deal with crop failures); increase the use of some really nasty pesticides(e.g. liberal application of neem oil and copper compounds, especially when the organic plots no longer receive herd immunity from fields using safe and effective pesticides like organic phosphates).


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