« Remedy du Jour -- August 28, 2010 | Main | The Rare Earth Elements Crisis »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Can you check the link to your paper Energy and Climate Change? It isn't working when I click it.

Matt K

I disagree that there will be more wars for energy - instead it will be complete environmental destruction to get at all of our energy "reserves" (mostly imagined reserves).

The U.S., especially multi-national corporations and wealthy investors, NEED the growth of other nations for good returns. The U.S. is washed up for quite a while in terms of growth, so they're looking elsewhere. If we threaten war with any of these growing countries - our multi-nationals and investors get kicked out - and I don't think they'll allow that to happen.

What I think we'll see is a continuation of environmental war - "we could have $1 gas if only we could drill everywhere offshore"... and when that doesn't work "well, now we need oil shale" and on and on.


@ Matt K - I think some sort of hostile takeover of Venezuela is still on the agenda. Other than that, I agree. The US has openly been fighting wars for energy since 1990 based on the Carter Doctrine of 1980. The ability of the empire to fight any more energy wars is just about spent.


"For all human societies, growth in energy consumption is a necessary condition for economic growth. I am not going to defend that statement here"

Nor do I think you have to. The two most common refutations of that statement involve either a non-functioning economy where everything is a (non-energy using) service or a collectors item, or a belief in the impossible - that energy efficiency alone can continue growth indefinitely.

Those who put forward weak arguments like that (and usually forcefully) will not be swayed by reason or logic, from their belief centred views.


Dave, I think your figures on the amount of energy produced, by the US, in 1970 and 2009 are wrong. The figures you quote are for fossil fuel energy, not overall energy. Also, I'm not sure that energy production could be described as "largely flat", since 1970. True, it's been slow growing and was essentially flat during the 70s but since then it reached 73 quads in 2008, almost 16% more than in 1970. According to EIA figures, of course.

I don't think it changes the story much, if at all, but critics would jump on those "errors".

Dave Cohen

Yes, Tony, you are right. The numbers I cited are from the EIA's table 1.1 for fossil fuels, and didn't (in the original) include (predominantly) the energy from nuclear power.

However, I think we could say the overall trend is entirely clear, and the text has been amended accordingly to be accurate with respect to the data.

best, and thanks for the correction,

-- Dave


I'm not an expert at all, but it seems the US military is unusually active these days. I've read reports we are consolidating control in Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines along with our ongoing involvement in countries surrounding Iran. Sure Venezuela looks like an easy choice, but its running low on oil. I would guess that China get fed up with being blockaded and tries to push us out, Israel provokes a mid east conflict, or there is blood shed over the arctic as oil scarcity ramps up.

Dave: I couldn't find that you mention thorium in any article. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote about it today: "'Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free'": is one of the quotes.


Great article... I've made some short videos showing what my family has done to prepare for peak oil...



Greg Pinelli

The idea that Human Nature has to change for Progress to take place makes no sense...Progress is a social based phenomena that is earned thru the use of aspects of human nature (reason, perseverance, etc)..What is being proposed in this series of articles is some kind of biological litmus test that fails to recognize that that is NOT how humans pass knowledge thru generations...in fact, it's an outdated Lamarkian notion that dies with gene theory development in the 19th century...

Humans still do lots of destructive things they used to do...so what? That many still live in squalor and poverty hardly negates the achievements of millions of others and the capacity of that achievemnt to be socially trnasmitted as Progress...in fact, it's the only lifeline the less well off have. A concocted notion that Progress is illusory is a flimsy argument for pushing the overarching "horror" of less oil, gas and environmental problems..Of course we can't solve those problems..or make progress solving any others..because our biology hasn't been altered. Incredible!!

John Mack

The Western World has shown for many centuries a clear desire for individual self-aggrandizement, what otherwise is called Capitalism. For many centuries one path to achieving this was by appropriating what others possessed, either through individual or group conflict. With the development of nuclear weapons, such a path had rapidly diminishing returns. So, the human energy wasted in previous centuries on conflict was directed toward exploiting the environment.

The point I'm making is our exploitation of the environment is simply a different side of the same coin, the same impulse that led people to wage conflict with one another.

So in a sense, the present material success of the world is an anomalous situation because it is based on the artificial constraint of nuclear weapons on human behavior. In others words, if it were not for nuclear weapons, our material success most probably would have inevitably led to our society's destruction, as it almost did prior to the development of nuclear weapons with World War One and World War Two.

Am I saying all the effort since 1945 was a waste of time? No, of course not, but it could have been conducted in a more rational manner so that the world need not have to confront declining oil production.

Bruce Berry

If you are not already familiar with it, you really need to be acquainted with Climate Wars, Gwynne Dyer's 2008 book, which is a high quality survey of geopolitics and military strategies as we head down the other side of peak energy and into an uncertain climate. Dyer is very well appraised of US and NATO military thinking from a long career focused on it. Or you could check out a synopsis of the ideas here (3 podcasts): www.gwynnedyer.com

The comments to this entry are closed.