Thursday, December 08, 2005

Oil Crash

Since the first “No Blood For Oil” signs bobbed above protesting crowds across America, I’ve thought that the problem with invading other countries and building bases there to gain control of the world’s few remaining oil fields was bad because it kills people, it’s greedy, and because fossil fuel use is unsustainable. The insane lifestyle in wealthy nations – driving around buying unnecessary stuff – is poisoning the rivers, forests, farmlands and oceans we humans rely on for survival.

But now, reading The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg, the policy of takeover just looks stupid. There isn’t enough oil left in the world to make continuing this lifestyle worthwhile, or even feasible. More important, knowing that our cheap energy supply is finite means that it would make most sense to use what we have left for an all out dedicated sprint toward converting to renewables and scaling back levels of energy use by improving efficiency. We should be building an economy based on “steady state” principles, as described by geologist M. King Hubbert: regional economies, organic agriculture, smaller populations, and a phase-out of non-productive or destructive industries like advertising, financial services and petrochemical manufacturing. Instead, we’re scrambling to maintain our perpetual growth capitalist economy and burning up our transition fuel by making wars abroad and driving around buying stuff at home. The longer we wait to confront this topsy-turvy set of priorities, the harder the inevitable crash is going to be.


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