The ascent?

I’ve been having a sometimes rather heated debate with doomers over at Guy McPherson’s blog. One commenter there Cleitophon objected with some fairly important questions that I mistook for the usual doomer memes. As far as I can tell, Cleitophon is trying to discover a non-dogmatic, honest answer to the question of whether there is enough time for our technologies today to adjust to ‘peak everything’ and indeed whether or not we can.

But first a question about the overall tone of Guy Mcpherson’s article, The Ascent.

1. What is wrong with incremental growth in technologies?
We all know that incremental growth in bad things results in huge impacts over time, like 1% population growth doubling the world’s population every 70 years. So why can’t incremental growth in technology efficiency and new technologies still be considered an ‘advance’?

2. True innovation is being funded by some, despite an appearance to the contrary.

////The true innovations, which go to the heart of society are therefore the ones that have our interest. This is where development seems to slow: ////

Many would agree with you Cleitophon! Vinod Khosla is a venture investment who totally agrees, and is sick of slow, incremental advances in the same old technology. He wants radically new approaches, and funds them!

In this Q&A from Scientific American Vinod says he would rather invest in Phd researcher trying something radically new, even if it has a 90% chance of failure,  because that 10% that succeeds will not only hit on a radically new technology by definition it will be a game changing technology. Vinod is funding radical green  technologies ‘too good to be true. Ultimately these will make more money.

So rather than fund a tiny percent increase on algae returns — none of which he’s bothered with so far as the 20 or so companies that have tried to approach him for funding will still not be economically viable after 7 years of scaling up in the market — he’d rather fund a few radical new approaches to battery technologies. Vinod has said he would make a bet that in 15 years you won’t be able to buy lithium ion batteries because one of the researches he is funding will crack ‘some new quantum storage thingamajig’.

3. What is wrong with copper?

Cleitophon rightly asks whether or not there is enough copper. I have also written about peak copper, asking questions on various science forums and wondering how on earth we are going to supply electricity to the world’s population. (As only a lifestyle that meets all our needs encourages the demographic transition). Indeed my recent replies to Cleitophon tell me I may have to edit my ‘peak metals’ page as there have been a few new developments.

  • Unlike oil, copper is not consumed. It has not gone away or disappeared, it is still there. It can be recycled. Our cities are great store houses of copper.
  • With deep sea mining we may just have thousands of years of accessible copper at current rates. New materials sciences allow better underwater drills and equipment.
  • Demand for metals drops off a little once a nation has thoroughly developed and modernised. Lester Brown explains that while all the power lines and bridges are being built there is a huge demand for raw materials, but after a nation has developed some of the demand drops off.
  • With enough baseload power (from GenIV nukes) surely we’ll end up with fairly strict copper recycling programs reducing the amount we need to mine in the first place. Lester Brown documents how America is recycling more and more of it’s steel, at between 50% to 70% recycling depending on the category of steel. (Steel beams from buildings are at 95% recycled).

4. I may grant an ‘energy bottleneck’ with some fuel rationing in the coming decade/s, but the other side of this market rationing looks huge once we switch to abundant nuclear power and renewable mixes.

////By far the majority in modern society are not interested in hearing, reading or contemplating the decline of globalization or energy shortages – it is simply too miserable.////

That’s because even the general public who do not blog very much already know that we are working on a whole variety of solutions. Gen4 nukes will provide reliable baseload power. Queensland just endured the horrors of Cyclone Yasi. I wonder how many wind turbines and solar panels were smashed to shreds? Nukes can provide cheap electricity in cyclone proof concrete bunkers in any environment on the planet. As we face an era of changing climate and weather patterns, surely that is another factor worth considering?

5. I totally agree with Cleitophon as he laments the sheer time wasted sitting in traffic, which is one of many reasons why I support New Urbanism.

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36 Responses to The ascent?

  1. cleitophon says:

    I am a bit sorry you have understood my article as a doomer article, that was certainly never my intent. My aim was rather pragmatic realism. I hope for innovations and development, but stress that these do not occur automatically and that there are structural inhibitors to science in general. I am left with the impression that my article was sucked into a debate that was already on between two irreconcilable opponents (optimists and doomers) – I certainly belong to neither.

    I am never dogmatic in the sense that doomers and optimists are, I find your critical comments, absolutely necessary informed and enlightened debate. So, my interest is not ideology in that sense, but rather, what is the real capacity of technology to adapt to the resource shortages (vs demographic growth) the world is currently experiencing.

    This there are many innovative solutions (such as the nano carbon tubes as a replacement for copper), but are they feasible and applicable to the extent that they may be implemented globally for 7-9 billion people over the next 10-20 years? I doubt it very much, and the price developments in that market seem to support my evaluation. Innovation is one thing, but economies of scale is another. Is civilized society going to crumble to dust within a few years – of course not (although things may get rough in the years ahead).

    All the best
    Thomas

    • Eclipse Now says:

      I am never dogmatic in the sense that doomers and optimists are, I find your critical comments, absolutely necessary informed and enlightened debate. So, my interest is not ideology in that sense, but rather, what is the real capacity of technology to adapt to the resource shortages (vs demographic growth) the world is currently experiencing.

      I agree, and from the little I’ve bumped into you online have to be fair and admit that you do appear fairly consistently impartial to dogma either way. Thank you, and I will now just edit my quote to distinguish you from the ‘doomers’.

      I agree with you on carbon-nanotubes for now. I might have blurted out carbon-nanotubes as an “answer” to peak copper too enthusiastically. I would need to qualify it in the context of having decades — even centuries — to play with. Where does all this time come from? Well, I’m hoping various lower-grade ore bodies, recycling schemes, and maybe even ocean hot-vent mining can supply all the copper we need until the ‘next big thing’.

      ( Even if the next big thing in this instance is more copper, but maybe from asteroid mining? You see what I mean about needing decades to centuries to sort this out. Here’s a ‘Cosmist’ scenario for you. Imagine we develop nearly sentient AI that could cope with the rigours of self-replication and asteroid mining. A few nuclear powered craft are shot into the asteroid belt where they congregate and the AI’s start to mine, ultimately making more mining ships which make more mining ships which make more. It grows exponentially until there are enough craft to start shooting reentry-wrapped payloads back to earth, that parachute down somewhere safe. The thing I don’t know is how uniformly uranium & thorium are spread around the asteroid field for fuelling these craft.)

  2. cleitophon says:

    I think the difference between utopians (both doomers and state of nature varieties) and by own approach, is that utopians (often) begin with the concept of the future they have a normative preference for, for some reason or other, and then look for the data to support it (Cart before the horse/Affirming the consequent). In this regard I try to be utterly agnostic about the future; I cannot know with any certainty how the future will be, because there is such complexity and proliferation of variables involved. Not only that – while there is a complex determinism involved, individuals also have the option of using their free will if they put their brains into gear and implement critical (non-automatic and dogmatical through). What I can do is extrapolate from current trends (analyze deterministic tendencies) and perform counter-factual analyses (take into account free-will at the level of individuals). Thus my conclusions are themselves hypotheses or perhaps probabilistic ranges of outcomes that can only be falsified or attain verification through the passing of time.

    Now because the vast majority of people think that science will progress indefinitely, it is not necessarily so. I think that it is up to those who profess the inherent openness of science to show: 1) that the current trend in scientific development points towards such a characteristic in science and technology and 2) that there is an epistemological foundation to science that supports the possibility of indefinite progress.

    What does it mean that science has a non-terminating character and what does this mean for our understanding of the physical world. I mean if we claim that there is ALWAYS a deeper level of understanding to be attained in the physical world this would create the problem of infinite regress for the physical sciences. Not only that the physical sciences abound with a search for ultimate limits or cognitive foundations. Now, if there is a limit as most natural science claims, scientific progress will slow down as that limit is approached. Scientists usually state that there is not limit or truth to the universe – economists and cornucopians apparently do not recognize this.

    • Eclipse Now says:

      Nice philosophy of judging the future there mate! It’s like you’ve attempted an epistemology of the future, and coming from a Christian background I would have to say that the ancient Hebrew book of Ecclesiastes agrees with you!

      I guess the thing that drives me a little nuts about the doomer meme is not just that it is arrogant about the future, and not even that it creates a good deal of despair about the future, but it is the CERTAINTY with which they broadcast their scenarios. The sad thing is I *agree* with most of their *concerns* but I would phrase them as open ended questions.

      EG: The world is running out of *easy* oil and metals and topsoil and freshwater and forest and fisheries, so what are we going to do about it?

      As opposed to their version which reads: “The world is running out of *easy* oil and metals and topsoil and freshwater and forest and fisheries so civilisation is going to collapse back to the stone age!”

      Nice chatting Eclipse

  3. cleitophon says:

    Sorry, the last sentence should read: “Scientists usually state that there is a limit or truth to the universe – economists and cornucopians apparently do not recognize this.”

  4. cleitophon says:

    If this has your interest, and you want to read more, you could take an outset in Karl Popper’s concept of verisimilitude and build a further bibliography from there. It is found in “Two faces of common sense”

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/#ProKnoVer

    Here the question is obviously, what happens to the speed of scientific progress as the theories have greater and greater verisimilitude. Since the theories are moving towards a limit (truth, which is unattainable as such) the speed by which science progresses it verisimilitude must decline, since there is obviously epistemic utility involved (marginal epistemic returns).

    In fact, when I look at the proliferation of sub-atomic particles in quantum physics and the mumbo jumbo in dark matter cosmology and astrophysics (I mean, the big bang theory has more holes that a swiss chess and they keep on flogging that dead horse. If the universe is 95% dark matter, why haven’t I got any in my back yard??), I think it is clear that science is currently stuck at an impasse.

    • Eclipse Now says:

      Science stuck? What? I think you’re talking cosmology and physics. What about medicine and nano-science and energy and materials sciences all progressing into new and exciting areas? I think you are discussing certain bigger ‘theory of everything’ knowledge paradoxes, but when I use the word ‘science’ and talk about innovation slowing down, I’m thinking about engineering science and medical science and computer science and transport systems and energy systems.

      As far as I can tell, these things are approaching various materials breakthroughs and resource constraints that could together propel *revolutionary* engineering solutions. I’m talking electric vehicles with 500 mile ranges that quick-charge in less than an hour, nano-surgery that replaces blind eyes, and oxygen containing nano-bots that might just give you an hour to get to the hospital *after* you’ve had a heart attack and your heart has stopped! These are dreams right now, but this is the kind of revolutionary science I’m talking about. I think you’re talking about something slightly different?

      • Eclipse Now says:

        And another matter of epistemology is if we don’t know where the ‘end point’ of learning is, how do we know how much more there is to know?

        Don’t give up yet on dark matter, the big bang, and all that jazz. The LHC particle smasher program has only just started!

  5. cleitophon says:

    Well if it was inherently impossible to know what you did not know then I suppose you would have a point. However, we are able to define the boundaries of the known and un-known, which gives us a negative idea of the “space in-between”. This is done everyday in research applications around the world. Without knowing that we do not know, science would be inherently impossible, since science constantly strives into the unknown in order to make it known. How would science function without a concept of that boundary.

    Also, we are in fact we are able to explore the nature of the outer reaches of possible knowledge using philosophy, logic and mathematics. For instance: 1) we cannot, in principle, have a theory of everything or any total concept of knowledge as defined in Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. Even if we had a theory of everything it would impossible to prove this and it would no longer constitute knowledge. As Gödels first and second incompleteness theorems state:

    Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.

    and

    For any formal effectively generated theory T including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability, T includes a statement of its own consistency if and only if T is inconsistent.

    These two theorems give me an very powerful indication that the range of possible human knowledge will not be able to continue indefinitely. There is a specific and limited amount of knowledge available. The idea that we may move beyond this inherent limit to knowledge is what Immanuel Kant would term a Transcendental Illusion (a pipe dream conjured up by the mind, the cognitive equivalent of an optical illusion).

    This also tells me that there will be fundamental problems for science as it approaches the the issue of the totality of the universe: big bang/relativity (on the macro level) and quantum mechanics (on the micro-level). Imagine we define the universe as a Gödelian set of time and space. We can then not have a concept of that universe that is complete and coherent. In so many words, as we come to seek fundamental knowledge about time and space, that knowledge (or rather those concepts) will collapse and it will prove utterly impossible to attain coherent knowledge. In so many words, these ranges of knowledge that push the boundaries of totality are in fact modern speculation and metaphysics propped up with mathematics and formal logic – a tool of mathematics and logic that tells them that the kind of knowledge they seek is inherently impossible.

    So we, know where knowledge is now, and we know the logical limits of the knowledge we can attain. What is left is the opaque bit in the middle of which we have a negative definition.

    • Eclipse Now says:

      I don’t think I’ve read enough philosophy to catch some of the subtleties in your work above, but I’m wondering if I had whether I would have caught words built on words to the abstraction of abstractions for the sake of words. In other words, some philosophers need to become a little more concrete and stop abstracting away into nothingness.

      The LHC is operational. We’ll probably learn something new about the universe from it, and this new law of physics might lead to better building materials or communication technologies or energy sources or who knows what? Isn’t it enough to just see what happens?

      In the meantime, wikileaks has shown that US Diplomats believe Saudi Arabia has overstated their oil reserves by 40%. But was it headline news? No! Only Egypt! (Of course, which is a very encouraging story so far…let’s hope they finally have a fair constitution).

  6. cleitophon says:

    That being said, I simply cannot see how you can debate the nature, scope, functions and application of knowledge without epistemological considerations, in fact I would call it impossible. How are we to debate the current state and application of knowledge if we cannot give a – however perfunctory – definition of knowledge.

  7. cleitophon says:

    My God, have you seen what Guy McPherson is writing??? It is absolutely unbelievable nonsense. I would call it inciting to rebellion. It is decidedly militant. I have written him and asked him to remove my article immediately from his homepage and remove my membership.

    I can only say that I had an utterly wrong impression of his politics. YIKES!

    • Eclipse Now says:

      Which piece in particular has you upset? They all look fairly ‘interesting’ to say the least.

      • stonesfrommars says:

        Guy R. McPherson is an extreme doomer primitivist who openly despises “civilization” and openly hopes for some violent destablization to hit the United States. He also makes rather hilariously grand predictions, such as industrial civilization ending by 2018 (lol!)

  8. cleitophon says:

    Well, I hadn’t seen any such radicalism in the posts i browsed before letting him publish my article. They were all merely hippieish farm articles and peak oil observations. Had I known that I would not have spent any more time there. On thing is being critical, anther is inciting to violence…

  9. Eclipse Now says:

    I might be over-reacting because I know of a young guy who committed suicide over peak oil extremism like his, but I reported this post of his to the authorities — to the Arizona state government terrorism & suspicious activities site, and to the University of Arizona where he works. Enough is enough.

    • stonesfrommars says:

      From what I understand, he doesn’t work at that particular university anymore (I believe the University of Arizona), but he is tenured I’m sure. Not much legally can be done (first amendment protections), but maybe they’ll review his tenure after a look at some of his …”work” 🙂

  10. cleitophon says:

    Good move. What a weird experience.

  11. Eclipse Now says:

    The concerns over peak oil are real, but it seems we have bred a generation of navel-gazing conspiracy freaks that feel like they have their own right to blogging up whatever reality they can think of. The sad thing is that youth can take this stuff too seriously. I mean, as an adult I freaked out about it all 6 years ago — but my kid had cancer and so I was in a sleep deprived, highly suggestive state. But one young 19 year old kid I know of actually became so despondent over the ‘inevitable’ fate of the world that he rode his pushbike up to the Blue Mountains, found his favourite tree, and hung himself.

    If that’s what kids will do out of their online obsession with and despair over peak oil, imagine what they might become capable of if a university lecturer starts blogging about bombing bridges and banks and chipping away at civilisation? That’s just unreal! Is this Guy trying to create the next Timothy McVeigh?

  12. stonesfrommars says:

    @ Eclipsenow in regards to whether incitement is protected under the first amendment. Wholly depends on what he is actually saying. If he is really calling for bombings and the such ala Derrick Jensen, then yeah he could get in serious trouble, and if he is really saying such things, he’s even worse than I thought! I gotta say, despite how insane he trully is, I didn’t realize he was this stupid. Sorry I didn’t directly respond, the mobile version of wordpress isn’t letting me….

  13. stonesfrommars says:

    @Eclipsenow in regards to peak oil. I agree it is a very real concern, but the end of industrial civilization by 2018? Come on, even doomers like John Michael Greer doesn’t buy that. I’ve read some of Guy R.’s stuff back last year, and the guy really is nuttier than squirrel shit.

  14. Eclipse Now says:

    Ha ha! Well, that’s one way to put it. I agree with you (now) but back then, when sleep deprived and highly stressed due to a family health crisis… I was far more suggestible. It took a long time to escape the group think and feel confident that society actually does have alternatives to oil, even if those ‘alternatives’ are — in some cases — ‘negabarrels’ not ‘megabarrels’. So if I as an adult found the doomer stuff so alarming and serious back then, what about young people? I’ll never forget this nice bloke I met with whose 19 year old son committed suicide over this stuff!

    • stonesfrommars says:

      Well, to put things in perspective, I’m only 21, and I learned about this stuff a few years back, and became very depressed as well.(thankfully , I didn’t actually kill myself over it). After researching it though, turns out it’s another “Y2K” rehash, of sorts.

      Sorry to hear the other kid didn’t make it…

  15. Eclipse Now says:

    Good to hear you got through it. The current challenge is much bigger than peak oil of course, but I think there are answers, if society chooses to embrace them quick enough. As it is, I’m a ‘Greater Depression’ kind of peak oiler. But that doesn’t make me a doomer! There is a VAST difference between a Greater Depression and Mad Max! And on the bright side, our kids should be living in more sustainable, cleaner cities with better city amenities closer to hand (New Urbanism) and greater sense of community, and maybe some awesome quiet electric cars.

    • stonesfrommars says:

      Don’t worry, I know the two are different. I’m a “greater depression” type as well, but I don’t think it has much to do with energy resources contracting, at least in my country (U.S.A.) , a lot more to do with a all too powerful myopically short minded privileged upper class, and not a lot of political activity from the social classes below. That being said, depressions don’t last forever, though I think this particular one will last quite a while.

      End of “industrial civilization” though? I wouldn’t hold your breathe 😉

  16. cleitophon says:

    Well, it seems obvious to me that there are structural imbalances on the global level that could be called malthusianesque. Food production has been virtually stagnant since the beginning of the 90s and population has grown by 1.5 billion since then. Incidentally, per capita oil has been declining since then too. Phosphates, freshwater, arable land, rare metals, copper, cotton ect are all experiencing severe bottlenecks and global population keeps on growing.

    http://www.landcommodities.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.dspInvestmentFundamentals

    Now that being said, there is no way there is going to be a collapse of civilization within a few years. This severely underestimates the rates at which things change on the global level. I rather think it is going to play out as a kind of extended stagflation or recession as the transaction const for a globalized economy keep rising. Just look at the price of bunker fuel and what it has done to the speeds at which cargo is hauled to europe and the us from china. They are slow steaming, so that the majority of ships are stuck in transit. The next thing to look for is the price of transporting goods eroding the benefit of cheap asian wages. Thats the time, when production moves closer to the consumer. In fact that has already begun for heavy industries such as steel production, where china has lost much of its competitive edge on the export market.

    Either way, it is totally unacceptable to argue for disrupting the existing system violently. It seems to me to be based on utterly utopian and extremist thinking and if the completely unrealistic aims were (against all likelihood) seen through, the consequences of that would be catastrophic, since billions would starve to death.

    I think a far more realistic view is given by Jeff Rubin: economies will revert to being more local and the things we use and consume will have to be produced closer to where we live. People will begin to work, live and play closer to home.

  17. Eclipse Now says:

    ////people will begin to work, live and play closer to home.////

    1. I don’t for a minute think globalisation will end — maybe just downgrade. We’ll still buy stuff in bulk from countries where it is cheaper, such as computers from China or the English buying lamb from New Zealand (as they have for 150 years, even prior to oil. Surprisingly on “Future of Food Part 2” last night on Aussie TV they said NZ lamb was far lower in Co2 emissions because of the way it is produced and fattened up — on natural grass as opposed to corn feed — and this overcompensates for any relatively small Co2 in transporting it to the UK).

    2. Having said that, if you look at my New Urbanism page you’ll see I’m a *huge* supporter of local living. As you say, we’ll ‘work, live and play closer to home’. If we design the right cities we not only lower oil consumption and Co2 output, but save on tends of thousands of Km’s of roads, electrical wiring, internet and telephony cables and wiring, plumbing, drainage, and all the other materials you can think of that go into building our cities. Having your computer come from another country is allowable in such a world.

    3. This also means the land footprint of such a city can be 20% or even 10% of the suburban city plan, freeing up 80% to 90% of Sydney for local agriculture if we rolled out such a reform.

    More here….

    https://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/rezone/

    Regards

  18. cleitophon says:

    Well, I agree with you on new urbanism, in fact I wrote a feature article about this in a Danish National newspaper not long ago. You probably won’t be able to read it but here it is:

    http://politiken.dk/debat/kroniker/ECE961605/den-raadne-banan-tabte-til-byernes-sprawl/

    That being said, if living is to become local, so will commodities. In fact, as Rubin argues, distance costs money. And when the cost of that distance becomes greater than the money saved by cheap asian labour, I think the free market will begin to deglobalise, for the simple reason that the most price competitive goods will sell and the expensive ones will not.

    This is the concept of transaction costs for globalization

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transaction_cost

    When bunker fuel becomes more expensive yet, I am certain that the food miles concept will become evermore important. In fact, there is something utterly insane about me buying Argentinian apples in Denmark, when they grow fine outside in my garden. Or salmon: catching, processing, packaging, shipping and distribution. This is an insanely oil dependent process and peak oil is going to make such goods inaccessible to the ordinary consumer. In fact food production in general is oil dependent, from the production of artificial fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, machinery, transport, processing, packaging and distribution. So I think that if new urbanism and local living is going to be a reaction to expensive oil, so will allotments and local production of food.

    I mean if you can’t afford to transport yourself around how are you going to transport all the goods around? Distance is distance whether it is your self or some commodity and the infrastructure which surrounds us is used for many other things than commuting and holidays
    🙂

    • Eclipse Now says:

      Yes, I agree with you that many products will become more localised, especially fruit and veg. Flying fruit and veg around the globe is just insane.

      However, it is the products that can travel slowly by boat that have a chance at maintaining some market dominance, especially if different currencies and labour rates maintain competitiveness. Remember, those lambs have been traded with the UK for 150 years. Also Kite-Sail, scaled up solar-sailors, and even nuclear powered ships can maintain the cutting edge in efficiencies of scale in some high technology markets such as computers, electronics, and other high technology goods.

      I totally agree that Kunstler DEMOLISHED Suburbia in his TED talk. The one bit that didn’t come over clearly was when he suddenly ranted against our trashy suburban street-scape “not being good enough for the boys spilling their sand over in America!” It was unfortunate as it came across as if Kunstler was saying we die for our city scapes. I think he was talking about how city design either creates rich relationships and vibrant communities or can hinder good communication and prevent feeling connected. I think he was ranting against the American lack of connectedness being ‘not worth dying for’. But other than that one moment, it was a truly brilliant critique of the oddities of suburbia and so much funnier than I thought it could be. EG: Shows a slide of the ugly, Communist styled council building and says, “There is not enough Prozac in the world to make people enjoy walking down this street!”

  19. cleitophon says:

    Love Kunstler’s TED lecture by the way – he is hilarious: sarcasm incarnate. Saw it first time about 3-4 years back and I was hooked.

  20. stonesfrommars says:

    Probably too late to post this, but I will anyway.

    To get a grasp of what McPherson is like, you should read this article http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2010-09-26/could-peak-oil-save-human-species

    In other words, he’s one of those peak oilers who sees their preferred Luddite future arising after the peak in petroleum takes it’s hit. The peak oil scene seems to be filled with his type IMO.

  21. Eclipse Now says:

    Yes, it is sad because it tarnishes the warnings from the peer-reviewed geologists. We really DO need to prepare for peak oil and peak phosphorus (recently on Australia’s ABC Catalyst science show) and many other peaks in conventional resources.

    There’s a lot of re-jigging to do, and there are risks that this could raise international tensions.

    However, to use peak oil to push one’s own agenda and drive hope out of the young is diabolical. As I keep saying, I met with a father whose son committed suicide over this! You don’t get more ‘convinced’ about the severity of the coming troubles than that! This poor young 19 year old obviously believed everything he was reading from the likes of Guy McPherson (but Aussie authors running a doomer email list here in Australia) and the father wanted to meet up to discuss what happened on that email list. I was there to learn more about peak oil, but found myself fighting the constant doomerism, the misanthropic troupes that just kept resurfacing, the hatred of almost anything ‘modern’.

    I helped create a team out of all that doom that eventually went on to brief some NSW politicians, who in turn raised peak oil briefly in the NSW ‘Senate’. (Legislative Council).

    Anyway, that was 6 years ago and all we’ve had since then has been more freeways and suburbia. It’s time to start rolling these twin ‘evils’ back, and head towards a comfortable, modern, New Urban, fast rail, green-nuclear world. (3rd Gen which is exponentially safer than Japan!)

    • stonesfrommars says:

      I’m not arguing against any preparation of Peak Oil, or Peak Oil itself, I just wanted to point out the psychology of “Guy R. McPherson”, and that his psychology is rather common in peak oil circles. Big Gav had a post on this, “Peak Oil and the Philosophers stone”. All in all, I’m not sure it’s even worth debating those types, they’re taking a faith based approach and making the problem into some sort of quasi religious belief, not unlike (you may have heard of him) The “Grand Archdruid” John Michael Greer. Why people take seriously a guy who calls himself an “Archdruid” is beyond me, but..oh well.

      Personally I’d like to see massive conservation measures taken where I live (United States) by either/and state and the federal government here, hopefully bring it down to European levels of energy consumption which would open up a lot of possibilities on how to move forward.

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