Peak Oil Anarchy

Peak Oil is indisputable, inevitable and -- probably -- imminent. As the Cheap Oil era ends & oil supplies grow ever more scarce, our consumerist, earth-eating economy will go into convulsions & industrial civilization will teeter on the brink of collapse. Best be prepared! Peak Oil could herald a Golden Age of Anarchy. In Leviathan's ashes, we could create new decentralized communities of mutual aid, solidarity against oppression, & egalitarian harmony. May this be a map to the terrain ahead!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Why Peak Oil Awareness Is a Bad Thing

Over at's discussion forum, thuja wrote:

I often read the posts here as something akin to-- "Why don't the powers that be (media, politicians, sheeple) get it about peak oil? The sooner they get it, the sooner we can start implementing plans to save us from the drastic problems that will ensue post-peak.

Whether you're a cornucopian hoping for a nuclear powered future or a Heinbergian eco-utopian hoping for back yard veggie gardens and wind power, there is a general desire to educate the masses about this issue.

While I generally agree, I have been having second thoughts while mulling over the implications of a true global understanding of Peak Oil. My fear is that we would see a great deal of panic and an immediate cry for intense energy production. This would most likely come in the form of expanded oil, coal and nuclear with a pinch of solar/wind development.

Intense energy production would lead to much more intense problems down the road (coal/oil=global warming; nuclear=waste/sustainability issues). There will soon be a hydrocarbon peak and eventually a uranium peak that will only put off our need to power down and reduce our population load on the planet.

So the more we educate, the quicker we bring on the fantasy that we can change fuel sources and go along our merry way. The longer we wait to try for the "energy Manhattan Project," the harder and more impossible it becomes to try and pull it off. We will then be forced with powerdown instead of trying to put off the inevitable for a couple more decades.

So should we stop praying for CNN and Newsweek to cover Peak Oil?

{POA response: When we first became peak oil-aware a few months ago, as eco-anarchist revolutionary activists, we grappled with this same question & came to essentially the same conclusion. That's why our goal is to educate the grassroots--ie, fellow eco-activists, anarchists, etc--and hope that the mainstream remains ignorant. In the spring of 2006, we have 2 essays that will be published in Earth First! Journal and Communties Magazine. The EF!J essay is largely about the environmental threat posed by "oil substitutes" like coal-to-oil liquefaction, industrial biofuels, and heavy oil mining. While a few politicians who understand peak oil--like our hero Roscoe Bartlett (see POA comment after "Highlights of the Denver ASPO Conference" below)--are against mega-industrial "solutions," most--like Montana's Gov. Schweitzer, who is attempting a crash investment to coal-to-oil--see it as justification for all sorts of awful "alternatives." We'll best off if the frog of civilization doesn't try to leap from the oil vat until it's too late--and if we are then forced to power down!!!}


  • At 4:17 AM, Blogger FARfetched said…

    Sounds all well and good, until you consider the billions of people who will die in the power-down. A softer landing of slowly-constricting energy supplies (replacing oil as it dwindles) coupled with global population control may sound Utopian, but why not at least go down saying we made the attempt?

  • At 1:22 PM, Blogger Windham_County said…

    Billions of people dying off sounds OK to me -- the Earth is way too populated anyway.

  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger FARfetched said…

    Heh... as long as it's not you, right? ;-)

  • At 8:45 AM, Blogger Greets Green resident said…

    All those pesky people of colour in the south (who after all form the majority of the worlds population) are just SO overconsuming the earths resources arn't they? Capitalism *loves* you guys, providing justification for it's possible strategies. Let forget trying to create a more equitable world and instead lets just make glib comments about mass genocide.

  • At 9:54 PM, Blogger ibis_118 said…

    I think the developing world would benefit greatly from a collapse of western civilisation, so would the environment and future generations. Yeah a mass die off is horrendous and terrible, but the alternative is a complete destabilisation of the planets climate, potentially the end of life on earth. There's no nice way through all this, there’s no soft transition. We’re screwed

  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger Jack said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger Jack said…

    This is an interesting concept that reminds me of that Brookings/aliens scenario, though Peak Oil is not a secret concept. Maybe you think it's seen only as a conspiracy theory of sorts?

    Either way, the problem is that the very people who DENY Peak Oil are the ones who think kerogen shale could flow like crude oil if we "just got rid of them envir-O-mental regulashuns!"

    In other words, the pillaging of oil-poor lands has already begun. Many people just don't care about nature or the future. They want what they want, NOW.

    So, the reaction you fear is happening, regardless. It may as well be tempered to some degree by the real evidence.


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