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Published on June 4th, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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Societal Collapse Due to Peak Oil ‘Inevitable,’ According to Researcher

In a new article, an Oxford researcher has examined what will happen when peak oil hits. According to Jörg Friedrichs, the outlook is not good. In his article Friedrichs doesn’t attempt to answer the question when peak oil will happen (or if it already has). Instead he imagines that it has happened and the world has to deal with it.

His conclusions: the world will have a “slow and painful” adjustment to peak oil lasting a century or more with the inevitable collapse of industrial society and the disintegration of free trade. How cheerful.

In his research, Friedrichs used three historical examples to guide his thought process of how the world’s different governments will deal with being energy constrained: North Korea, Cuba and Japan.

North Korea and Totalitarian Retrenchment

In the 1990′s North Korea entered a period of time that is akin to what the world might face when confronted with peak oil. As the Soviets stopped delivering subsidized oil to its comrades, North Korea was faced with a severe oil shortage. To deal with the catastrophe, the North Korean government “basically screwed its own population,” said Friedrichs in an interview with Miller McCune. “Elite privileges were preserved, while hundreds of thousands of ordinary people starved.” Friedrichs has labeled this type of governmental response  to an oil shortage as “totalitarian retrenchment.”

Cuba and Mobilization of Local Resilience

Due to the same pullback that North Korea faced from the Soviets, Cuba also entered a period of severe oil shortages in the 1990′s. But, instead of enacting more totalitarian control tactics, Cuba — with its history of grassroots communist organization and reliance on friends and family — fell back into what Friedrichs calls “mobilization of local resilience.” In other words, people being a community. “People helped each other at the neighbourhood level, and the wastelands of Havana and other cities were utilized for urban gardening,” said Friedrichs. “As a result, Cuba did not experience mass starvation despite considerable hardship in the 1990s.”

Japan and Predatory Militarism

For decades before WWII Japan had sought to expand its influence in China and secure energy resources — long considered its major growth restraint, having virtually none of its own. At the time World War II broke out, Japan was almost completely dependent on oil imports from California to fuel its growth. Given that Japan had its sights on a pre-emptory invasion of Pearl Harbor, they decided to invade the East Indies to secure their oil supply. This kind of response to an oil shortage Friedrichs calls “predatory militarism” — that is, using military might to steal resources from other areas.

How will the Various Governments of the World React to Peak Oil?

According to Friedrichs, all countries of the world that are wholly dependent on an oil economy will react to peak oil in one of the above 3 methods. “Countries prone to military solutions may follow a Japanese-style strategy of predatory militarism,” he said. “Countries with a strong authoritarian tradition may follow a North Korean path of totalitarian retrenchment. Countries with a strong community ethos may embark on a Cuban-style mobilization of local resilience, relying on their people to mitigate the effects of peak oil.”

Friedrichs thinks the U.S. will resort to predatory militarism because that is our one biggest strength. He says that liberal democracies (the U.S. being one, regardless of what the conservatives are currently spouting) will have a hard time keeping democracy viable and maintaining open free markets. If he were to guess which countries would be the most stable during the collapse, Friedrichs concludes that “Countries with a recoverable authoritarian tradition are likely to work better than liberal democracies.”

The U.S. would have a hard time resorting to Cuban style local resilience because of the Western lifestyle. “When social glue and traditional lifestyles have eroded, they are not easily recovered,” he said, comparing the Cuban and U.S. societies. “After several generations of individualism and affluence, Westerners will have a hard time accepting that they need to rely on communities and must revert to a sustainable lifestyle. After 65 years of mass consumerism, Japanese society is likely to face similar problems.”

Can’t Technology Save Us?

Not likely. Using the example of how the deep south — known as Dixieland — recovered after the Civil War, Friedrichs concludes:

“Dixieland is a cautionary tale for those who believe that social and technological innovation will take care of all problems. After Southern elites lost slavery as the backbone of their way of life [during the U.S. Civil War], it took them at least a century to adjust to the new reality.”

“Why did they not simply embrace industrial capitalism and liberal democracy? Well, I guess it is not so easy to give up one’s lifestyle. Now, imagine that people were to face an energetic downgrade, rather than the upgrade available to Dixieland after the Civil War. While the “challenge” for Dixieland was lifting its socioeconomic fabric to industrial capitalism and liberal democracy, after peak oil the opposite would be the case. Do you really think people would have an easier time adjusting to peak oil? The world would sorely miss cheap and abundant energy, and liberal democracy would become more and more difficult to sustain. The example of Dixieland shows that it takes a lot of time for the ”new consciousness” to emerge that is necessary for radical social change.”

What a cheery note to head into the weekend with.

Source: Miller-McCune


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  • Chris T

    Good lord, another ‘intellectual’ who doesn’t actually know anything about the United States or free markets. The south didn’t want to adopt liberal democracy??? What nonsense.

    • Nick Chambers

      Chris T,

      While that is definitely the easy explanation to try and dismiss the conclusions of the research, I think it is akin to the ostrich sticking its head in the sand. If we don’t at least seriously consider what might happen during peak oil, we deserve everything and anything that happens to us.

  • Chris T

    Good lord, another ‘intellectual’ who doesn’t actually know anything about the United States or free markets. The south didn’t want to adopt liberal democracy??? What nonsense.

    • Nick Chambers

      Chris T,

      While that is definitely the easy explanation to try and dismiss the conclusions of the research, I think it is akin to the ostrich sticking its head in the sand. If we don’t at least seriously consider what might happen during peak oil, we deserve everything and anything that happens to us.

  • Dean

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Another good read:

    “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”

    by Jared Diamond

  • Dean

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Another good read:

    “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”

    by Jared Diamond

  • Chris O

    Note that peak oil doesn’t mean the end of oil. There will still be lots left but it will be a lot more expensive. This automatically creates a transitional period in which technologies like batteries and biofuels get a chance to become viable alternatives to oil. It’s happening right now in fact. Society should makes sure though that vested interests no longer get the chance to restrict such new technologies like Chevron did with NiMH batteries. Also people should not buy into the relentless FUD campaigns against plug-ins and biofuels that have been instigated by vested interests. Resistance to new technologies by vested interests might be the factor that turns a manageable event like peak oil into a disaster.

  • Chris O

    Note that peak oil doesn’t mean the end of oil. There will still be lots left but it will be a lot more expensive. This automatically creates a transitional period in which technologies like batteries and biofuels get a chance to become viable alternatives to oil. It’s happening right now in fact. Society should makes sure though that vested interests no longer get the chance to restrict such new technologies like Chevron did with NiMH batteries. Also people should not buy into the relentless FUD campaigns against plug-ins and biofuels that have been instigated by vested interests. Resistance to new technologies by vested interests might be the factor that turns a manageable event like peak oil into a disaster.

  • dustin s

    chris O is right about vested interests

    people are not so hard to change, the masses are easily lead one way or another. it is those with interests in oil and that want things to stay the same. they dont like change because it means they will not have a stranglehold on the populous. thats why those who gain from holding back developments of new technology, other products and energy sources do so. power greed corruption, narcissism. EV1 killed, Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower (possible free electricity from ionosphere) killed by JP Morgan. Henry Ford and Rudolf Diesel dream of using bio-fuels to power their engines… Diesel himself, was literally killed. there is nothing they will not do to get their way, they are murderous gangs. <-Rant

  • dustin s

    chris O is right about vested interests

    people are not so hard to change, the masses are easily lead one way or another. it is those with interests in oil and that want things to stay the same. they dont like change because it means they will not have a stranglehold on the populous. thats why those who gain from holding back developments of new technology, other products and energy sources do so. power greed corruption, narcissism. EV1 killed, Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower (possible free electricity from ionosphere) killed by JP Morgan. Henry Ford and Rudolf Diesel dream of using bio-fuels to power their engines… Diesel himself, was literally killed. there is nothing they will not do to get their way, they are murderous gangs. <-Rant

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I’ve been preparing my family for Peak Oil for 3 years and made some short vidoes to help people make changes and prepare themselves….I attached the first one here…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I’ve been preparing my family for Peak Oil for 3 years and made some short vidoes to help people make changes and prepare themselves….I attached the first one here…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • John

    Trying to extrapolate from the experiences of north Korea, japan, and Cuba is just plain silly. In all three cases those countries did not have to experience an oil shortage — the oil shortage itself was the result of bad policy choices and those same bad policy choices led to all sorts of other problems.

    I think that a much better example of what peak oil will be like can be found from the cap and trade experiences where we intentionally created “shortages” of something and allowed the market to come up with solutions. Already we see substantial efforts from governments and companies around the world to solve the problem of peak oil and many of these look quite promising.

    Peak oil is going to happen and there will be challenges and even suffering. But these types of doomsday predictions are way over the top.

    Now, if you want to focus on doomsday predictions that we really should worry about, I’d say stick with global warming. In fact, I’d say pray peak oil comes sooner rather than later, because that might be the only thing that saves us from a real doomsday.

  • John

    Trying to extrapolate from the experiences of north Korea, japan, and Cuba is just plain silly. In all three cases those countries did not have to experience an oil shortage — the oil shortage itself was the result of bad policy choices and those same bad policy choices led to all sorts of other problems.

    I think that a much better example of what peak oil will be like can be found from the cap and trade experiences where we intentionally created “shortages” of something and allowed the market to come up with solutions. Already we see substantial efforts from governments and companies around the world to solve the problem of peak oil and many of these look quite promising.

    Peak oil is going to happen and there will be challenges and even suffering. But these types of doomsday predictions are way over the top.

    Now, if you want to focus on doomsday predictions that we really should worry about, I’d say stick with global warming. In fact, I’d say pray peak oil comes sooner rather than later, because that might be the only thing that saves us from a real doomsday.

  • Dave

    This article makes peak oil sound like all of a sudden there’s going to be a huge crisis where oil is no longer available. It’s going to be completely different from the dramatic shift that the end of the cold war and civil war brought.

    There are alternatives to oil, as oil prices go up those alternatives will become more popular(which in turn reduces the demand for oil and prevents it from rising in price too fast).

    It’s a wonder what just that one summer of $4/gallon of fuel did to the public perceptions about fuel efficiencies and clean energy.

  • Dave

    This article makes peak oil sound like all of a sudden there’s going to be a huge crisis where oil is no longer available. It’s going to be completely different from the dramatic shift that the end of the cold war and civil war brought.

    There are alternatives to oil, as oil prices go up those alternatives will become more popular(which in turn reduces the demand for oil and prevents it from rising in price too fast).

    It’s a wonder what just that one summer of $4/gallon of fuel did to the public perceptions about fuel efficiencies and clean energy.

  • Tim Cleland

    As others have said, what’s going to happen is that demand will initially outstrip supply thus raising the price, which will curtail demand (as we saw in Summer 2008). As supply continues to dwindle, price will continue to go up until at some point people will realize that there are alternatives. The best value alternative will eventually settle in and become the new normal.

    Whatever the new normal is, my guess is that energy

    will be a proportionately larger part of the cost of living for everyone, which means lifestyles will be taken down a notch or two (i.e. conservation will become a way of life), but nothing like a doomsday.

  • Tim Cleland

    As others have said, what’s going to happen is that demand will initially outstrip supply thus raising the price, which will curtail demand (as we saw in Summer 2008). As supply continues to dwindle, price will continue to go up until at some point people will realize that there are alternatives. The best value alternative will eventually settle in and become the new normal.

    Whatever the new normal is, my guess is that energy

    will be a proportionately larger part of the cost of living for everyone, which means lifestyles will be taken down a notch or two (i.e. conservation will become a way of life), but nothing like a doomsday.

  • aggy

    Peak Oil people tend to not quite understand economics. As others here have said, as oil becomes more expensive, other technologies begin to become more attractive despite their costs. Right now, we have a long list of technologies ready to replace oil–for the right price. It’s also worth noting that there really are no “oil” companies anymore. There are energy companies whose chief revenue source (for now) is oil. But they are heavily invested in alternative fuels and technologies. They know which way the wind blows. They are committed today to oil because that’s where the money is. But once prices hit peak, they’re going to be the first ones to save their bottom line by choosing future energy sources. It’s already happening now. My prediction is that we’ll be moving away from oil long before any peak in prices hits. This paranoia about social collapse is just another silly prophecy like Ehrlich’s 1970s predictions about mass starvation and food riots. Like those (very wrong) predictions, peak oil predictions do not understand either economics or technology.

  • aggy

    Peak Oil people tend to not quite understand economics. As others here have said, as oil becomes more expensive, other technologies begin to become more attractive despite their costs. Right now, we have a long list of technologies ready to replace oil–for the right price. It’s also worth noting that there really are no “oil” companies anymore. There are energy companies whose chief revenue source (for now) is oil. But they are heavily invested in alternative fuels and technologies. They know which way the wind blows. They are committed today to oil because that’s where the money is. But once prices hit peak, they’re going to be the first ones to save their bottom line by choosing future energy sources. It’s already happening now. My prediction is that we’ll be moving away from oil long before any peak in prices hits. This paranoia about social collapse is just another silly prophecy like Ehrlich’s 1970s predictions about mass starvation and food riots. Like those (very wrong) predictions, peak oil predictions do not understand either economics or technology.

  • Lakelevel

    Peak oil is a demonstrably phony concept. We have the technology now to make oil from coal and shale for LESS money than we now pay per barrel. Moreover, there is enough shale and coal in just the US to last for hundreds of years. Also the cheaper price per barel of oil from shale or coal includes the cost of returing the land to a natural park like state after depletion. The only obstacles to this huge resource are political.

  • Lakelevel

    Peak oil is a demonstrably phony concept. We have the technology now to make oil from coal and shale for LESS money than we now pay per barrel. Moreover, there is enough shale and coal in just the US to last for hundreds of years. Also the cheaper price per barel of oil from shale or coal includes the cost of returing the land to a natural park like state after depletion. The only obstacles to this huge resource are political.

  • Steven

    I’ll just file this little article with Jeremy Erlich’s Malthusian predictions from the 70′s. Of course, all the commenters here are true believers in the “peak oil” fantasy — a fantasy based soley on the assumption that declining output due to infrastructure neglect has anything to do with actual reserves.

    And the short answer: If oil increases in price, countries will shift to natural gas and nuclear. As we have seen happening in the US with past increases in oil prices. And when that happens, consumer-level oil prices will drop again and stabilize.

    And for the author’s lack of historical knowledge: Cuba did not do some “community organizing”. The regime cracked down on dissidents, dispersed pockets of opposition by jailing or internal dislocation, and cut deals with Mexico and Venezuela to make up for the oil supply disruption.

  • Steven

    I’ll just file this little article with Jeremy Erlich’s Malthusian predictions from the 70′s. Of course, all the commenters here are true believers in the “peak oil” fantasy — a fantasy based soley on the assumption that declining output due to infrastructure neglect has anything to do with actual reserves.

    And the short answer: If oil increases in price, countries will shift to natural gas and nuclear. As we have seen happening in the US with past increases in oil prices. And when that happens, consumer-level oil prices will drop again and stabilize.

    And for the author’s lack of historical knowledge: Cuba did not do some “community organizing”. The regime cracked down on dissidents, dispersed pockets of opposition by jailing or internal dislocation, and cut deals with Mexico and Venezuela to make up for the oil supply disruption.

  • Annie B

    Would this be just like the “Peak Whale Oil Crisis”?

    Oh wait – there wasn’t one!

    When whale oil became scarce and expensive, people switched to petrol products & natural gas & invested in large scale electrical plants.

    Remedial history class for this “intellectual”.

  • Annie B

    Would this be just like the “Peak Whale Oil Crisis”?

    Oh wait – there wasn’t one!

    When whale oil became scarce and expensive, people switched to petrol products & natural gas & invested in large scale electrical plants.

    Remedial history class for this “intellectual”.

  • PaulD

    So to get an idea of what will happen when we begin to run out of oil we should look to the experiences of three countries that rely on command and control economies rather than free markets. I would suggest that we look how free market economies dealt with shortages of whale oil in the 1800′s.

  • Scottie

    Regarding the statement describing the South: “Why did they not simply embrace industrial capitalism and liberal democracy? Well, I guess it is not so easy to give up one’s lifestyle.”

    Spoken as someone with absolutely zero grasp of what occurred in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

    It is silly to claim people deliberately chose to live in poverty, and ignores the very real looting that occurred immediately after the war was over, the years of martial law and federal occupation of the South, the loss of wealth expended by the South in its war effort, the loss of life in the South that took generations to replace, the maiming of – by some estimates – of up to 1/4 of the male population during that war, as well as the widespread damage inflicted on the South’s infrastructure (such as it was) during the Civil War, not to mention the political chicanery of handpicked appointees out of Washington, DC that that kept the region a poverty stricken backwater for decades to come.

    Such a shallow statement seriously undercuts the seriousness with which the rest of the article can be read.

  • PaulD

    So to get an idea of what will happen when we begin to run out of oil we should look to the experiences of three countries that rely on command and control economies rather than free markets. I would suggest that we look how free market economies dealt with shortages of whale oil in the 1800′s.

  • Scottie

    Regarding the statement describing the South: “Why did they not simply embrace industrial capitalism and liberal democracy? Well, I guess it is not so easy to give up one’s lifestyle.”

    Spoken as someone with absolutely zero grasp of what occurred in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

    It is silly to claim people deliberately chose to live in poverty, and ignores the very real looting that occurred immediately after the war was over, the years of martial law and federal occupation of the South, the loss of wealth expended by the South in its war effort, the loss of life in the South that took generations to replace, the maiming of – by some estimates – of up to 1/4 of the male population during that war, as well as the widespread damage inflicted on the South’s infrastructure (such as it was) during the Civil War, not to mention the political chicanery of handpicked appointees out of Washington, DC that that kept the region a poverty stricken backwater for decades to come.

    Such a shallow statement seriously undercuts the seriousness with which the rest of the article can be read.

  • buzz

    We use oil because it is currently cheaper than everything else. When it is no longer cheaper for whatever reason, we will use an alternative, which once it scales up, will then come down in price.

  • buzz

    We use oil because it is currently cheaper than everything else. When it is no longer cheaper for whatever reason, we will use an alternative, which once it scales up, will then come down in price.

  • Mike

    “From 1940-1945, Japan was on the brink of entering the war.”

    …a bit of an error on the dates there, esteemed scholar

  • Mike

    “From 1940-1945, Japan was on the brink of entering the war.”

    …a bit of an error on the dates there, esteemed scholar

  • Rjschwarz

    I find the strawman on tech veRy unpursuasive. The transition from coal while not 100% went pretty smooth. Shifting from oil to nuclear will likely be as smooth. We are more likely to ignore environmentalists (regarding nuclear reactors and drilling offshore or in delicate areas) than change our way of life or suddenly turn preditory.

  • Rjschwarz

    I find the strawman on tech veRy unpursuasive. The transition from coal while not 100% went pretty smooth. Shifting from oil to nuclear will likely be as smooth. We are more likely to ignore environmentalists (regarding nuclear reactors and drilling offshore or in delicate areas) than change our way of life or suddenly turn preditory.

  • Steve Adams

    Yep – that’s the ticket the US and it’s predatory military will just go and take the oil from folks. That’s why we took over Iraq with oil at $140 a barrel. That’s why we really run the oil fields in Venezuela.

    Of course human invention won’t help – all of the bacteria base bio-fuels, battery systems and miniature nuke plants will be worthless in the coming oil collapse. Wind and Solar will never be cost effective replacements even at $400 oil prices.

    Good luck with that Mr Ehrlich.

  • Steve Adams

    Yep – that’s the ticket the US and it’s predatory military will just go and take the oil from folks. That’s why we took over Iraq with oil at $140 a barrel. That’s why we really run the oil fields in Venezuela.

    Of course human invention won’t help – all of the bacteria base bio-fuels, battery systems and miniature nuke plants will be worthless in the coming oil collapse. Wind and Solar will never be cost effective replacements even at $400 oil prices.

    Good luck with that Mr Ehrlich.

  • wGraves

    This is silly. Transition to nuclear electrical generation can be completed in ten years if we need to. Conversion of the automotive fleet from pure hydrocarbon to plug-in hybrid is already proceeding. It will accelerate as gas prices rise. Most commuting is short range and will run off of the grid. Reactors will have to be converted to Pu239 manufactured by LMFBR or some such thing. These prophets of doom are always around because it sells books. Remember the ‘population bomb.’ We’re all supposed to be eating one another right now. Pass the salt.

  • wGraves

    This is silly. Transition to nuclear electrical generation can be completed in ten years if we need to. Conversion of the automotive fleet from pure hydrocarbon to plug-in hybrid is already proceeding. It will accelerate as gas prices rise. Most commuting is short range and will run off of the grid. Reactors will have to be converted to Pu239 manufactured by LMFBR or some such thing. These prophets of doom are always around because it sells books. Remember the ‘population bomb.’ We’re all supposed to be eating one another right now. Pass the salt.

  • Mike Constitution

    The leftist, “environmentalist”, liberty-hating doomsayers are always wrong.

    ” All of [Ehrlich's] grim predictions had been decisively overturned by events. Ehrlich was wrong about higher natural resource prices, about “famines of unbelievable proportions” occurring by 1975, about “hundreds of millions of people starving to death” in the 1970s and ’80s, about the world “entering a genuine age of scarcity.” In 1990, for his having promoted “greater public understanding of environmental problems,” Ehrlich received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.” [Simon] always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they’d been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.”

    It is the same with peak oil. Alternative energy sources will be developed by the creative individuals that make up the free market. The innovations will be separate and in spite of the ridiculous government subsidized and wasteful make-work projects that clowns like Al Gore and Barack Obama support

  • Mike Constitution

    The leftist, “environmentalist”, liberty-hating doomsayers are always wrong.

    ” All of [Ehrlich's] grim predictions had been decisively overturned by events. Ehrlich was wrong about higher natural resource prices, about “famines of unbelievable proportions” occurring by 1975, about “hundreds of millions of people starving to death” in the 1970s and ’80s, about the world “entering a genuine age of scarcity.” In 1990, for his having promoted “greater public understanding of environmental problems,” Ehrlich received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.” [Simon] always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they’d been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.”

    It is the same with peak oil. Alternative energy sources will be developed by the creative individuals that make up the free market. The innovations will be separate and in spite of the ridiculous government subsidized and wasteful make-work projects that clowns like Al Gore and Barack Obama support

  • euphrosyne

    So tired of ‘peak oil’ fetishists who conveniently ignore the 100 year supply of oil we have just in shale. It’s not like oil will run out in our lifetimes–but it will get somewhat more expensive.

  • euphrosyne

    So tired of ‘peak oil’ fetishists who conveniently ignore the 100 year supply of oil we have just in shale. It’s not like oil will run out in our lifetimes–but it will get somewhat more expensive.

  • john aislabie

    As others have pointed out this article is not very bright, substitution is already underway (did you realise that oil’s percentage of our energy use peaked at 35% in 1985).

    An interesting point on the collapse of the South in the US is that this was very largely caused by it having to use the “yankee dollar” which, driven by the huge economies of Boston and New York was not in any way representative of the Southern regional economy. If the South had had its own currency it would probably have prospered after an initial period of devaluation.

    The point to watch here is that the Euro is trying to be the “yankee dollar” for Europe and as a result the weaker members cannot devalue, being locked into a currency largely driven by rich members. Watch for a very long term disabling of the weaker countries as well as a migration to the North just like the one which was familiar to any Chicagoan of the 1890′s

  • john aislabie

    As others have pointed out this article is not very bright, substitution is already underway (did you realise that oil’s percentage of our energy use peaked at 35% in 1985).

    An interesting point on the collapse of the South in the US is that this was very largely caused by it having to use the “yankee dollar” which, driven by the huge economies of Boston and New York was not in any way representative of the Southern regional economy. If the South had had its own currency it would probably have prospered after an initial period of devaluation.

    The point to watch here is that the Euro is trying to be the “yankee dollar” for Europe and as a result the weaker members cannot devalue, being locked into a currency largely driven by rich members. Watch for a very long term disabling of the weaker countries as well as a migration to the North just like the one which was familiar to any Chicagoan of the 1890′s

  • nbindo

    The only reason that the U.S. might go through the turmoil mentioned in this article is because viable alternative energy sources have been effectively banned by Democrats.

    Examples?

    New Hydropower Dams

    New Nuclear Power Plants

    Onshore and Offshore drilling in the U.S.

    Coal development in the Kaiparowitz Plateau, which contains at least 7 billion tons of coal.

  • nbindo

    The only reason that the U.S. might go through the turmoil mentioned in this article is because viable alternative energy sources have been effectively banned by Democrats.

    Examples?

    New Hydropower Dams

    New Nuclear Power Plants

    Onshore and Offshore drilling in the U.S.

    Coal development in the Kaiparowitz Plateau, which contains at least 7 billion tons of coal.

  • Tex Lovera

    @dustin s: tinfoil, much?

    @Mike: beat me to it.

    Currently developed oil supplies are being reduced, SLOWLY. But there are enormous amounts of undeveloped sources that will become more economically viable as oil prices slowly rise. Also, there is some elasticity to oil demand as recent price increases have proven.

    The author also ignores other readily aavailable alternatives, most notably nuclear.

    The only constraints we face are self-imposed. The transition need not be painful, IF we decide not to tie ourselves down with a bunch of Lilliputian strings…

  • Tex Lovera

    @dustin s: tinfoil, much?

    @Mike: beat me to it.

    Currently developed oil supplies are being reduced, SLOWLY. But there are enormous amounts of undeveloped sources that will become more economically viable as oil prices slowly rise. Also, there is some elasticity to oil demand as recent price increases have proven.

    The author also ignores other readily aavailable alternatives, most notably nuclear.

    The only constraints we face are self-imposed. The transition need not be painful, IF we decide not to tie ourselves down with a bunch of Lilliputian strings…

  • johnmc

    The researcher misses the point about the South post Civil War. It took a century to adjust, not because of energy — preindustrial South was not an intensive energy using place. It took the South that long to recover because it was on the losing end of the first mechanized total war.

    Look at old Europe. It took them 50 years to recover and that was with massive aid from the US. Parallels are the same.

  • johnmc

    The researcher misses the point about the South post Civil War. It took a century to adjust, not because of energy — preindustrial South was not an intensive energy using place. It took the South that long to recover because it was on the losing end of the first mechanized total war.

    Look at old Europe. It took them 50 years to recover and that was with massive aid from the US. Parallels are the same.

  • tim maguire

    We will miss crude oil precisely as much as we miss whale oil. Internal combustion is a transitory technology, as are all technologies.

  • tim maguire

    We will miss crude oil precisely as much as we miss whale oil. Internal combustion is a transitory technology, as are all technologies.

  • M. Report

    Decline in oil production is not the problem;

    When the cost crosses the threshold of pain,

    the people will demand the development of

    new sources _now_ not after 10 years of EPA

    studies.

    Interruption of oil and gas supplies, even for

    a week, is a different matter; If the supply

    of diesel which fuels the transport of food

    fails, or the supply of natural gas which

    powers the electrical generators which drive

    the infrastructure of the cities fails, the

    US will be in the same situation as a person

    who suffers cardiac arrest.

  • M. Report

    Decline in oil production is not the problem;

    When the cost crosses the threshold of pain,

    the people will demand the development of

    new sources _now_ not after 10 years of EPA

    studies.

    Interruption of oil and gas supplies, even for

    a week, is a different matter; If the supply

    of diesel which fuels the transport of food

    fails, or the supply of natural gas which

    powers the electrical generators which drive

    the infrastructure of the cities fails, the

    US will be in the same situation as a person

    who suffers cardiac arrest.

  • Nerraw

    Wake up Friedrichs. We have already reacted…Iraq?!?!?!, The Cou in Venezuela,… World War I… We have a military run by our resource hungry corporations… and as you can tell our reaction has been Predatory Militarism.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19429

  • Nerraw

    Wake up Friedrichs. We have already reacted…Iraq?!?!?!, The Cou in Venezuela,… World War I… We have a military run by our resource hungry corporations… and as you can tell our reaction has been Predatory Militarism.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19429

  • douglas prince

    AAAIIGGHH!!! WE ALL GONNA DIE! SAVE ME, JOHN CUSACK!!!

    …there, feel better?

  • douglas prince

    AAAIIGGHH!!! WE ALL GONNA DIE! SAVE ME, JOHN CUSACK!!!

    …there, feel better?

  • Walt K

    Bah! Humbug! This guy’s postulations are three hairs short of total baldness. Did he read this stuff in his tea leaves or did his astrologer give him the news. What is it with these isolated intellectuals and their penchant for doom and gloom. What ever happened to the forecasts of total starvation that was going to occur some time ago by demographic prophets. Nonsense!

  • Walt K

    Bah! Humbug! This guy’s postulations are three hairs short of total baldness. Did he read this stuff in his tea leaves or did his astrologer give him the news. What is it with these isolated intellectuals and their penchant for doom and gloom. What ever happened to the forecasts of total starvation that was going to occur some time ago by demographic prophets. Nonsense!

  • Brian G

    Dixieland?

  • Brian G

    Dixieland?

  • Joe

    Most of the denial commenters here me convinced the US will have a militaristic reaction to peal oil. Thick headed stubbornness and scapegoating aren’t going to change physics.

    There is no substitute for cheap energy that light crude oil provided. Not coal, nuclear or solar.

    As the price of oil increases due to limited supply and increased costs pumping less readily available oil, the market isn’t going to magically create a new, low cost energy source.

  • Joe

    Most of the denial commenters here me convinced the US will have a militaristic reaction to peal oil. Thick headed stubbornness and scapegoating aren’t going to change physics.

    There is no substitute for cheap energy that light crude oil provided. Not coal, nuclear or solar.

    As the price of oil increases due to limited supply and increased costs pumping less readily available oil, the market isn’t going to magically create a new, low cost energy source.

  • Tim

    What about the energy cost of oil to get oil?

    Check out the very well put together economics crash course http://www.chrismartenson.com

    Also watch The Money Masters on you tube …

    The two together, will offer insight and a better perspective on this conversation.

    cheers

    Alberta oil guy

  • Tim

    What about the energy cost of oil to get oil?

    Check out the very well put together economics crash course http://www.chrismartenson.com

    Also watch The Money Masters on you tube …

    The two together, will offer insight and a better perspective on this conversation.

    cheers

    Alberta oil guy

  • Bodes

    What are all these peak oil skeptics doing reading this article, much less replying to it?

    Wouldn’t that be like going up the to the crazy guy wearing one of those “the end of the world is nigh” signs and trying to convince him everything is OK?

    Why would they bother?

    Unless of course it’s just a few B.P. spooks paid to spam Peak Oil articles with skewed statistics and general misinformation…

  • Bodes

    What are all these peak oil skeptics doing reading this article, much less replying to it?

    Wouldn’t that be like going up the to the crazy guy wearing one of those “the end of the world is nigh” signs and trying to convince him everything is OK?

    Why would they bother?

    Unless of course it’s just a few B.P. spooks paid to spam Peak Oil articles with skewed statistics and general misinformation…

  • Steve

    Concerning the ‘Dixieland’ example, I suppose it was pretty hard to adjust their lifestyle after their economy was looted, their infrastructure destroyed through direct military action, a few million new unemployed citizens dumped into the system (with a broken promise of forty acres and a mule), and a military occupation and with punitive taxation and disenfranchisement.

  • Steve

    Concerning the ‘Dixieland’ example, I suppose it was pretty hard to adjust their lifestyle after their economy was looted, their infrastructure destroyed through direct military action, a few million new unemployed citizens dumped into the system (with a broken promise of forty acres and a mule), and a military occupation and with punitive taxation and disenfranchisement.

  • delmar jackson

    How anyone can take the author seriously after reading his analogy of “dixieland” and their supposed failure to recover from a war due to no longer having slavery.How that has anything to do with peak oil is baffling.

    96 percent of southerners never owned a slave. The north made as much money from slavery as did the south. The war totally destroyed the infrastructure and a large part of the men, and the carpetbaggers from the North were a drag on the economy for decades.

    The author may know a lot about the looming energy dilemma, but underestimates the total destruction that took place in the south, both during the war and after.

    Here is an interesting passage from General Grants autobiography that may shed some light on the war.

    …………………………………………

    There is little doubt in my mind now that the prevailing

    sentiment of the South would have been opposed to secession in

    1860 and 1861, if there had been a fair and calm expression of

    opinion, unbiased by threats, and if the ballot of one legal

    voter had counted for as much as that of any other. But there

    was no calm discussion of the question. Demagogues who were too

    old to enter the army if there should be a war, others who

    entertained so high an opinion of their own ability that they

    did not believe they could be spared from the direction of the

    affairs of state in such an event, declaimed vehemently and

    unceasingly against the North; against its aggressions upon the

    South; its interference with Southern rights, etc., etc. They

    denounced the Northerners as cowards, poltroons, negro-

    worshippers; claimed that one Southern man was equal to five

    Northern men in battle; that if the South would stand up for its

    rights the North would back down. Mr. Jefferson Davis said in a

    speech, delivered at La Grange, Mississippi, before the

    secession of that State, that he would agree to drink all the

    blood spilled south of Mason and Dixon’s line if there should be

    a war. The young men who would have the fighting to do in case

    of war, believed all these statements, both in regard to the

    aggressiveness of the North and its cowardice. They, too, cried

    out for a separation from such people. The great bulk of the

    legal voters of the South were men who owned no slaves; their

    homes were generally in the hills and poor country; their

    facilities for educating their children, even up to the point of

    reading and writing, were very limited; their interest in the

    contest was very meagre–what there was, if they had been

    capable of seeing it, was with the North; they too needed

    emancipation. Under the old regime they were looked down upon

    by those who controlled all the affairs in the interest of

    slave-owners, as poor white trash who were allowed the ballot so

    long as they cast it according to direction…….

    …………………………………………

    special interests controlling the will of the masses, some things never change.

  • delmar jackson

    How anyone can take the author seriously after reading his analogy of “dixieland” and their supposed failure to recover from a war due to no longer having slavery.How that has anything to do with peak oil is baffling.

    96 percent of southerners never owned a slave. The north made as much money from slavery as did the south. The war totally destroyed the infrastructure and a large part of the men, and the carpetbaggers from the North were a drag on the economy for decades.

    The author may know a lot about the looming energy dilemma, but underestimates the total destruction that took place in the south, both during the war and after.

    Here is an interesting passage from General Grants autobiography that may shed some light on the war.

    …………………………………………

    There is little doubt in my mind now that the prevailing

    sentiment of the South would have been opposed to secession in

    1860 and 1861, if there had been a fair and calm expression of

    opinion, unbiased by threats, and if the ballot of one legal

    voter had counted for as much as that of any other. But there

    was no calm discussion of the question. Demagogues who were too

    old to enter the army if there should be a war, others who

    entertained so high an opinion of their own ability that they

    did not believe they could be spared from the direction of the

    affairs of state in such an event, declaimed vehemently and

    unceasingly against the North; against its aggressions upon the

    South; its interference with Southern rights, etc., etc. They

    denounced the Northerners as cowards, poltroons, negro-

    worshippers; claimed that one Southern man was equal to five

    Northern men in battle; that if the South would stand up for its

    rights the North would back down. Mr. Jefferson Davis said in a

    speech, delivered at La Grange, Mississippi, before the

    secession of that State, that he would agree to drink all the

    blood spilled south of Mason and Dixon’s line if there should be

    a war. The young men who would have the fighting to do in case

    of war, believed all these statements, both in regard to the

    aggressiveness of the North and its cowardice. They, too, cried

    out for a separation from such people. The great bulk of the

    legal voters of the South were men who owned no slaves; their

    homes were generally in the hills and poor country; their

    facilities for educating their children, even up to the point of

    reading and writing, were very limited; their interest in the

    contest was very meagre–what there was, if they had been

    capable of seeing it, was with the North; they too needed

    emancipation. Under the old regime they were looked down upon

    by those who controlled all the affairs in the interest of

    slave-owners, as poor white trash who were allowed the ballot so

    long as they cast it according to direction…….

    …………………………………………

    special interests controlling the will of the masses, some things never change.

  • Chris T

    Bodes – Misinformation? The author of this article doesn’t even remotely understand what happened during and after the civil war in the south. If he can’t get historical information correct about my own country, why should I trust him on anything else in the article? There are good discussions regarding oil supply and demand, this isn’t one of them.

  • Chris T

    Bodes – Misinformation? The author of this article doesn’t even remotely understand what happened during and after the civil war in the south. If he can’t get historical information correct about my own country, why should I trust him on anything else in the article? There are good discussions regarding oil supply and demand, this isn’t one of them.

  • Bill in NC

    We’re already in Peak Oil.

    Not due to resource depletion, but scarcity of supply, through incompetence and nationalist fervor.

    National governments now control nearly all the world’s supply of crude oil, and unlike private firms, their priorities are political.

    Russia uses its supplies of oil and natural gas as political weapons against its former Eastern European allies.

    Venezuela has seen its national oil company’s senior staff replaced by political cronies of Hugo Chavez. As a result production has dropped dramatically.

    They also have kicked Western oil companies out in favor of Chinese and Iranian firms, whose expertise is at least 20 years behind that of Exxon, BP, or Total.

    Crude oil will increasingly be used as a political weapon against the U.S. and her allies, even as vast reserves remain in the ground.

    However, oil is transportation energy, not total energy, so the more rapidly Western nations can transition their transportation infrastructure (e.g., electric cars, electrifying heavy rail for freight) the better.

  • Bill in NC

    We’re already in Peak Oil.

    Not due to resource depletion, but scarcity of supply, through incompetence and nationalist fervor.

    National governments now control nearly all the world’s supply of crude oil, and unlike private firms, their priorities are political.

    Russia uses its supplies of oil and natural gas as political weapons against its former Eastern European allies.

    Venezuela has seen its national oil company’s senior staff replaced by political cronies of Hugo Chavez. As a result production has dropped dramatically.

    They also have kicked Western oil companies out in favor of Chinese and Iranian firms, whose expertise is at least 20 years behind that of Exxon, BP, or Total.

    Crude oil will increasingly be used as a political weapon against the U.S. and her allies, even as vast reserves remain in the ground.

    However, oil is transportation energy, not total energy, so the more rapidly Western nations can transition their transportation infrastructure (e.g., electric cars, electrifying heavy rail for freight) the better.

  • Floro

    Re. Europe and Japan, Friedrichs writes, “And a smooth regression to a community-based lifestyle is also hard to imagine because societies in Europe and Japan have long been exposed to individualism, industrialism and mass consumerism. Europe and Japan have accumulated enormous wealth, but it is unclear how much this would help in adapting to peak oil (remember that we are assuming 2-5% decline of oil production every year).” Friedrichs needs to consider the following:

    1) Adapation measures are already underway in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in Japan—such as transition towns, community currency.

    2) The wealth of developed countries can be used to produce renewable energy such as solar, wind, geotherman, wave power–to mitigate the impact of peak oil.

    3) One serious limitation of Friedrich’s paper is that there’s no mention of the complicating converging crisis of climate change/global warming—as discussed by Kunstler (The long emergency) and Heinberg (Powerdown) and David Holmgren (transition as a creative energy descent).

    In fact, some scientists, such as James Lovelock, consider climate change more alarming than peak oil–indeed the most serious threat to the future of humanity.

  • Floro

    Re. Europe and Japan, Friedrichs writes, “And a smooth regression to a community-based lifestyle is also hard to imagine because societies in Europe and Japan have long been exposed to individualism, industrialism and mass consumerism. Europe and Japan have accumulated enormous wealth, but it is unclear how much this would help in adapting to peak oil (remember that we are assuming 2-5% decline of oil production every year).” Friedrichs needs to consider the following:

    1) Adapation measures are already underway in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in Japan—such as transition towns, community currency.

    2) The wealth of developed countries can be used to produce renewable energy such as solar, wind, geotherman, wave power–to mitigate the impact of peak oil.

    3) One serious limitation of Friedrich’s paper is that there’s no mention of the complicating converging crisis of climate change/global warming—as discussed by Kunstler (The long emergency) and Heinberg (Powerdown) and David Holmgren (transition as a creative energy descent).

    In fact, some scientists, such as James Lovelock, consider climate change more alarming than peak oil–indeed the most serious threat to the future of humanity.

  • Zach

    These are all theories by one man. By the way, Cuba was and still is heavily dependent on U.S. agriculture. I wonder if somebody did some real research on how much energy waste is out there right now (driving when not needed, not combining trips, driving inefficient vehicles, long commutes to and from work) people would be surprised. This article fails to take into consideration the 1973 oil embargo. Oil consumption dropped significantly, as people adjusted their consumption to the shortages, research and interest in efficiency and lessening our dependence on oil became a priority. Our consumption dropped so much due to this, that it took nearly 20 YEARS to reach those levels of consumption.

    My point is, at least in this country, peak oil theorists are far too cynical about how Americans would adjust. We’ve already seen it happen in 1973. Our demand dropped so much due to that crisis that it took 20 years to catch up. While Americans don’t like to change, when forced to, you’d be surprised how adaptable Americans are. I just don’t want it to get to the point where our hand is forced, I want us to increase efficiency and reduce our oil demand now, not later.

  • Zach

    These are all theories by one man. By the way, Cuba was and still is heavily dependent on U.S. agriculture. I wonder if somebody did some real research on how much energy waste is out there right now (driving when not needed, not combining trips, driving inefficient vehicles, long commutes to and from work) people would be surprised. This article fails to take into consideration the 1973 oil embargo. Oil consumption dropped significantly, as people adjusted their consumption to the shortages, research and interest in efficiency and lessening our dependence on oil became a priority. Our consumption dropped so much due to this, that it took nearly 20 YEARS to reach those levels of consumption.

    My point is, at least in this country, peak oil theorists are far too cynical about how Americans would adjust. We’ve already seen it happen in 1973. Our demand dropped so much due to that crisis that it took 20 years to catch up. While Americans don’t like to change, when forced to, you’d be surprised how adaptable Americans are. I just don’t want it to get to the point where our hand is forced, I want us to increase efficiency and reduce our oil demand now, not later.

  • Zach

    Bodes, your paranoia about BP hiring people to come ‘spam’ articles with ‘misinformation’ is a very telling insight into the mindset of peak oil theorists.

  • Zach

    Bodes, your paranoia about BP hiring people to come ‘spam’ articles with ‘misinformation’ is a very telling insight into the mindset of peak oil theorists.

  • posconvex

    Any discussion about oil prices over the next decade must include an attempt to quantify emerging economy demand as an important driver at the margin. Here is a simple thought experiment using Chinese demand to give some idea of the magnitude of the supply issues we face:

    - China moves from 3 bbls/person/year to the South Korean per capita consumption level of 17 bbls/person/year

    - Transition takes 30 years

    - No peak in global production

    In next 10 years we must find 44 million BOPD. If you superimpose peak production on top of this demand profile using the following parameters oil prices would increase approximately 250% in real terms over next 10 years:

    - Oil demand elasticity of -0.3

    - Current production 84 million BOPD, current price US$ 80

    - Peak production 100 million BOPD

    - Post peak decline rate of 3-4%

    If you want to try the model for yourself using your own assumptions it can be found at: http://www.petrocapita.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=86

  • posconvex

    Any discussion about oil prices over the next decade must include an attempt to quantify emerging economy demand as an important driver at the margin. Here is a simple thought experiment using Chinese demand to give some idea of the magnitude of the supply issues we face:

    - China moves from 3 bbls/person/year to the South Korean per capita consumption level of 17 bbls/person/year

    - Transition takes 30 years

    - No peak in global production

    In next 10 years we must find 44 million BOPD. If you superimpose peak production on top of this demand profile using the following parameters oil prices would increase approximately 250% in real terms over next 10 years:

    - Oil demand elasticity of -0.3

    - Current production 84 million BOPD, current price US$ 80

    - Peak production 100 million BOPD

    - Post peak decline rate of 3-4%

    If you want to try the model for yourself using your own assumptions it can be found at: http://www.petrocapita.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=86

  • http://Web Bill

    I think this is Bull crap weres Oboma when we need him???

  • Lonnie

    And here we come to 2012. Gas prices are stable at $4+ per gallon. Oil barrel is at around $100. Saudis are upping production to lower prices worldwide because people can not afford $4+ per gallon pricing in the U.S. and abroad. It is affecting the economy worldwide.

    Supply and Demand people. No matter what anyone says Supply and Demand ALWAYS run the world. It’s not political. Governments may intervene and play their games but Supply and Demand will win in the end.

    It is OBVIOUS that we will run out of oil ONE DAY. But that time is a LONG TIME in the future. Are we at PEAK? Maybe. But I would say PEAK is like a 40 year old man with 40-60 years left to live. He adapts to changes in his mind and body, and overcomes.

    The world will adapt. There will be tough adaptations. There will be failures, whether manipulated or real. Through trials and tribulations will come a new energy source we all use and enjoy. It will once again be affordable to all. And so the cycle will begin again.

    The simple fact that we have a GIANT FIREBALL in the sky 1,000,000 times the size of our planet, so close to our little Earth, should tell us ALL that there is PLENTY OF ENERGY TO GO AROUND.

    Think about it…

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