Saturday, April 08, 2006

TEOTWAWKI: And I Feel Fine

(It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine).

Jason Godesky has a good analysis of the flaws of an article by Toby Hemenway:

Hemenway makes an argument about demand, and points out the basic economic fact that price is not only set by supply, but also by demand. This is the common Cornucopian reply to the question of Peak Oil: as supply contracts, prices will rise, which will simply extinguish demand. This entails a distinct lack of imagination, in my opinion, as to what "extinguishing demand" might entail. With a human population far beyond its carrying capacity already that can only be fed with petroleum-fueled, industrial agrictulre, a rise in the price of oil must be carried over into a rise in the price of food. That will increase the percentage of the population that cannot afford food, and that increases the desperation of a society very quickly.

I think the other point that cornucopians miss is that this will be a permanent and widening decrease in the amount of energy available to civilization. Capitalism is predicated on growth. Sustainability (at some level) will be possible, but not endless growth. This means that capitalism will fail completely.

Now, where I am more "optimistic" than many doomers is that I like to focus on the fact that many of the most spirited of tribes can look forward to a future that will be much better than the anti-human civilization in which we live. Many of us will be able to grow food, eat well, and see a new renaissance of art and music instead of Walmart and American Idol.

And don't forget Karma: stay non-violent and lead your tribe in peace, love, and happiness always.

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