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Thinking ahead - Nov 2

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Peak Capitalism: Our Opportunity to Choose Between Survival and Collapse
(27-page PDF)
Lionel Orford, self-published (Australia)
... Our World is beset by a Sustainability Emergency.

It is made up of simultaneous, potentially catastrophic crises on several fronts:

  • Global Warming

  • Population Growth and Limits to Food Production
  • Destruction of Natural Systems
  • Peak Oil and Gas
  • Peak Capitalism

... A Proposal for Transition to a Sustainable Economy

The following is proposed as a preliminary plan for discussion amongst all those who are willing to acknowledge the reality of our predicament, think beyond the paradigm of the current system, and rationally discuss the fundamental reforms required to avoid catastrophe.

Step 1: Emergency Management
Changing to Emergency Management Mode

We are as dependent on our complex system of food production, processing and transport in the same way as the passengers of a ship on the ocean are dependent on the ship staying afloat. When the ship is sinking, the business of the voyage must be abandoned and the crew must mobilize any available means to try to save the ship. There are no lifeboats, and even if a few could be improvised, they would only condemn those in them to a slow and miserable death on the high seas.

As the economic collapse becomes undeniable, our governments will need to declare a State of Emergency that enables them to suspend business as usual and mandate that all necessary resources are dedicated to maintaining essential services. The failed Capitalist economy will need to be replaced by an emergency command economy.

We also need to recognise that this is a global emergency and accordingly, all countries need to cooperate through the UN to form the international agreements required to ensure that each country is able to access its essential requirements and that all countries partake in the reforms required to save civilisation and our planet.

Maintaining Essential Services

Governments throughout the developed world will probably need to directly intervene to create a command economy to ensure that the economic collapse does not cause the breakdown of essential services. It is important to understand that this is a failure of our economic system rather than a failure of the actual means of production of our essential goods and services.

Many millions of people who have lost their incomes will need to be provided with food, water, housing, medical care, electricity and sewage treatment. It is proposed that this be achieved through government issued ration system that provides every person with their essential needs. Such rations would need to be non-transferable so that a no black market in rations is possible.

A system of fuel rationing will be required to ensure that the available fuel is dedicated to the production, processing and distribution of food and other essential services as the supply of oil dwindles. This will entail a progressive shutting down of as many non-essential commercial and private activities as required to reserve sufficient fuel for essential services.

(1 November 2008)
Summary of a book by EB contributor Lionel Orford. Perhaps the most interesting part for Energy Bulletin readers is "A Proposal for Transition to a Sustainable Economy " (pages 16-24). We're currently working with Lionel to be able to post a longer excerpt at Energy Bulletin. -BA


The Green Supply Chain Needs an Apollo Program

Dennis Gawlik, Supply Chain Management Review
... Congressman Inslee advises that we need the equivalent of a new space program, but this time for the clean energy economy. There is a way toward a creation of a new energy economy through large-scale government investment in renewal energy resources. Congressman Inslee’s “New Apollo Energy Project” calls for the investment of tens of billions of dollars in various clean energy programs. When properly directed, government at all levels needs to promote renewal energy resources with the goal of delivering the clean-energy technologies that are required for the clean energy economy because the market alone cannot and will not be able to see the energy crisis coming. Getting the politics of a new energy economy is what matters. His “New Apollo Energy Project” calls for a set of new beliefs, referred to here as the “Ten Energy Enlightenments.”

1. Opportunity Is Best Found in Crisis
2. Boldness Is Required - Tinkering at the Edges Didn't Put a Man on the Moon
3. We Must Reject the Tyranny of the Present
4. There Are No Silver Bullets
5. Everybody Needs to Get on the Bus
6. If Government Sets the Road Signs, the Market Will Drive
7. Failure Is an Option
8. Prejudices Are Best Left at the Door
9. Clean Energy Will Be Powered by New Politics
10. No More Free Lunches

Dennis Gawlik is Director of Purchasing Service at the University of Washington.
(31 October 2008)
Long article.



Antidote to collapse disorientation: Celebrate a 9% oil-output decline and enjoy the future now

Jan Lundberg, Culture Change Letter
"Starve Humpty Dumpty before he falls, for less mess."

The title for this article is a bit more positive-sounding than the simple truism "End your oil use today, spare the pain tomorrow." But either way, this is our time for change; it is now, not when Obama may take the oath of office this winter.

[Political aside: Unless he blows it by letting the wind out of our sails, say by promising to invade Iran, there will probably be partying in the streets when Obama is elected and when he is sworn in to office. And pent up social change may become a runaway train, as Soviet society became under Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika.]

As autumn peaks and the squirrels have gathered their nuts and acorns, what are we doing as a human version of good sense? Sadly, we continue to shop 'til we drop. Although, we can be cheered by a little gardening and farming being done by far-seeing individuals. Face it, our real communities are either dismantled or just starting to be repaired or created. We are not ready for change that's already upon us. We don't have food security and will not have it as long as the agribusiness/petrochemical/GMO model prevails and its wider system remains.

With the International Energy Agency's (IEA) World Energy Outlook's assessment of depletion (including other factors such as sabotage) at 9.1% of the "natural rate," and given the economic downturn's momentum, we are looking into the gaping maw of collapse. This is the end of the industrial revolution and the agricultural revolution. Why am I choosing to sound so dramatic, and not call today's "recession" a retreat from growth that we can recover from? The reason we will be going all the way down in the trough after our rise to the top of consumption is the Category 5 storm we have unleashed. Now lash yourself to the mast or be swept overboard by the monster wave.

... Regarding the effects of oil depletion or output-reduction, petroleum investment banker/author Matt Simmons told me in July that even an annual production decrease of 1 to 3% per year is a barn burner. So he must be visualizing the whole farm ablaze now.

The Lundberg Letter's forecast of a 9% shortfall in gasoline deliveries for March of 1979 was our prediction of the imminent Second Oil Shock. (The number 9 comes up again, from the IEA.)
(30 October 2008)
UPDATE (Nov 2). Added the two last paragraphs.

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