Thursday, May 05, 2005


Time to "power down"?

A very sobering post.
Options & Leadership

More on Peak Oil, and the politics of consumption, from Richard Heinberg of the New College of California, in an article written by Melanie Gosling for the Cape Times of South Africa. WARNING: Reading this may bum you out. Here’s the gist:
Natural gas extraction will peak a few years after oil, extraction rates for coal will peak in decades, nuclear energy is dogged by unresolved problems of waste disposal and solar and wind energy will have to undergo rapid expansion if they are to replace even a fraction of the energy shortfall from oil. And the enthusiasm about a hydrogen economy comes from politics rather than science, he said.

"Our real problem is that we are trapped in a perpetual growth machine. As long as modern societies need economic growth to stave off collapse (given existing debt-and-interest-based national currencies), we will continue to require ever more resources yearly. But the Earth has limited resources.

"The energy conundrum is thus intimately tied to the fact that we anticipate perpetual growth within a finite system," Heinberg said.

He sketches four main options available in response:

1. Following the US leadership in competing for remaining resources through wars;
2. Wishful thinking that the market or science will come to the rescue;
3. Assuming that we are already in the early stages of disintegration, devoting our energies to preserving the most worthwhile cultural achievements of the past few centuries.
4. "Powering down" - reducing energy resource use drastically through economic sacrifice, reducing the population size and developing alternative energy sources.

"The sooner we choose wisely, the better off we and our descendants will be," Heinberg said.
“Following the U.S. leadership…” The one area where we could lead with our hearts, and we're leading with imperialism, at the end of a gun barrel.

Oh, and Ira Chernus reminds us that the Pentagon is making first-strike plans for the use of its overstock of WMD's: New US Plan for Nuclear Intimidation

So option #1 isn't going to end anytime soon.
Neither will #3 or #4. Any American politician who suggested either might as well start writing his memoirs - and leave them in the drawer. The fastest possible way to become a nonentity is to breathe even the slightest hint that America has anything other than a limitless, golden future. American do not want to hear it. Anyone who tried would be demagogued to death by his opponent, by the press, by corporate shills (i.e., the press), etc.

It is impossible to have a serious discussion about energy in the United States. We've made a secular religion out of #2 on the list above (no potty jokes, I'm being serious - for a change). It's really about the only thing all Americans believe in - that God Himself ordained that America, unlike any and every other civilization and nation in history, is uniquely blessed with eternal luck and largesse. And that we deserve it.

More than any group of people in history - more than the smuggest Victorian gentleman - Americans are suffused with a sense of boundless entitlement - to all there is, and then some. Stephen Sondheim's "More" should be our national anthem.

You do not fuck with this greed. You feed it or you lose. Alas.
Hey, cool blog you got here. I'm a nut case surfer, but l know what I like.
Have a good one!
Always looking for Portable Solar Power!
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Hey, cool blog you got here. I'm a nut case surfer, but l know what I like.
Have a good one!
Always looking for Portable Solar Power!
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