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Economic collapse. Peak oil. Population spikes followed by immediate drops. Survival in a world without oil. Have you guys seen this documentary? It's on instant netflix, or all parts (1-9) can be watched on youtube. I'd love a discussion on this. This documentary is LOADED but it hits on a lot of things I've been thinking about lately. Honestly, it makes me depressed, but should we continue to ignore the warnings? Should we get prepared? Is this guy just a conspiracy theorist alarmist? Here's a couple of clips from it:


Mar. 8th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
I've been through a collapse-panic phase and though I haven't gone all the way around into the "global warming is a lie" camp, I have been able to find a little hope.

Is this guy just a conspiracy theorist alarmist?

I actually dislike the label "conspiracy theory," which is usually used to pretend that anything that is not mainstream knowledge is stupid and obviously wrong, when from a scientific POV we can see that lots of (most?) things that are mainstream knowledge are only superficially correct, but fall under the first skeptical inspection. So, how about "is this guy unnecessarily worried about all this?"

On the issue of oil, I'll say that yes, I think he is.

From the video:

That's not some feat of Nostradamus communicating with some entity. It's math, it's science, it's simple.

First of all, it's not math. Math creates perfect proofs that cannot be ever found to be wrong. But when you are modelling the universe, even though your math might be right, it can lead to perfectly correct results which have absolutely nothing to do with the real world, simply because your model is wrong and your axioms did not correspond to the real world. I get a bit annoyed every time science, and especially math, get used in arguments of authority.

Now, to address the issue of peak oil, let's look at wikipedia:

Optimistic estimations of peak production forecast the global decline will begin by 2020 or later, and assume major investments in alternatives will occur before a crisis, without requiring major changes in the lifestyle of heavily oil-consuming nations. These models show the price of oil at first escalating and then retreating as other types of fuel and energy sources are used. Pessimistic predictions of future oil production operate on the thesis that either the peak has already occurred, that oil production is on the cusp of the peak, or that it will occur shortly.

Notice that no one thinks that the (global) peak occurred decades ago anymore. There's one very non-simple thing about predicting peak oil, and it is that we cannot predict the amount of undiscovered oil reserves. So yeah, we are fairly certain that oil extraction will not last forever, but we are not very sure about when and how it will come to an end.

On the issue of the collapse following the peak, I'd like to point out a few things:

  1. The collapse would come from soaring oil prices. We've seen this happening during at least two wars, and no collapse followed.

  2. We actually have plenty of alternatives to oil, such as coal, natural gas and renewable energy sources. Some people attack these alternatives saying that they cannot move cars, but cars are not the sole consumers of oil, nor are they the most important ones, economically speaking (because they also have alternatives themselves, like trains, bicycles, working from home, etc).

  3. Electric cars seem not to be mainstream already simply due to government intervention all over the world, in favor of the oil industry. Electric cars can be moved by any alternative energy source.

  4. I have never seen economic collapse due to the disappearance of a production good, only from superinflation started by central planners with bad money policy and/or bad resource allocation. I don't know any form of economic collapse that cannot be prevented by the free market.

[to be continued; went past char limit]