We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Our Oil Problems are Not Over!

Click here to access article by Gail Tverberg from her blog Our Finite World.

This author has done a considerable amount of research on this topic and I always find her articles very clarifying with regard to the issues related to "peak oil". She continues to argue that the vanishing cheap access to fossil fuels portends major problems for the economy. Although I've never read where she has ever considered changing the economic system, I think we can gather considerable insights from her writing in the context of a capitalist system continuing indefinitely. 

I've also have never read any concern in her writings about the harmful effects of the continuing use of fossil fuels to the environment and climate. But setting the latter concern aside, if we just consider the long term (next several decades) problems for the economy posed by the continued reliance on fossil fuels, we can see from the evidence and arguments that she presents many other profound problems that will occur to the system of capitalism itself.
Now we are faced with what looks like an unsolvable problem. We need a cheap oil substitute, yesterday. The stories we heard saying, “Substitutes will work when the oil price rises high enough,” were a bunch of nonsense. The folks who came up with this idea didn’t realize what a negative impact high oil prices have on the economy. A high-priced substitute for oil is not at all helpful. Neither is one with huge transition costs.
Without a substitute, we need to figure out how to live in a very changed world, one facing financial collapse–a very difficult problem indeed.