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[arcology] The Last Chance

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  • Dallara, Louis T (Louis)
    ... *** HOT HOT HOT *** See my new article: ENERGETIC LIMITS on pp. 21-23 of the Spring (newest) issue of ENERGY MAGAZINE! Thanks to Managing Editor Kevin
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 1999
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      *** HOT HOT HOT ***
      See my new article: ENERGETIC LIMITS on pp. 21-23 of the Spring (newest)
      issue of ENERGY MAGAZINE! Thanks to Managing Editor Kevin Gaynor,
      more-and-more decisionmakers are learning how the "net energy" principle
      limits the lifespan of the "market economy".

      The University of Wisconsin's Professor Detwyler has created a wonderful
      graph that clearly illustrates the net energy principle and shows why the
      "down" side of the oil production curve will be much steeper than the "up"
      side. See Detwyler's graph at
      http://www.uwsp.edu/acaddept/geog/courses/geog100/Petrol-ShrinkNetE.htm
      ** SEE MORE ANNOUNCEMENTS AT THE END **
      ------------------------------------

      THE LAST CHANCE
      by Jay Hanson -- www.dieoff.com
      Third Quarter 1999

      Theirs not to make reply,
      Theirs not to reason why,
      Theirs but to do and die.
      -- Lord Tennyson

      Around 2005, global oil production is expected to "peak" and forever
      change human life on Earth. [1] Studies show that nothing can replace
      conventional oil. This mailing is of special importance because it
      highlights the last chance to estimate all of the remaining energy resources
      before the crisis is actually here.

      ENERGY OR MINERALS? WHO KNOWS?

      The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has embarked on a so-called "reliable,
      objective assessment of the world's energy resources". [2] Unfortunately,
      the USGS is using flawed methodology which guarantees that it will NOT
      be an "energy" assessment but a "mineral" assessment instead. Here's why:

      A mineral is a mineral no matter how much energy is required to mine it.
      But by definition, energy "sources" must produce more energy than they
      consume, otherwise they are called "sinks". USGS assessments report
      resources in three different ways, as "in place", as "technically
      recoverable", and as "economically recoverable". But neither "technically
      recoverable" energy nor "economically recoverable" energy is relevant for
      anyone who is not in the energy business. On the other hand, we average
      citizens are vitally concerned about ENERGETICALLY RECOVERABLE energy. For
      example, if it takes more energy to search for and mine a barrel of oil than
      the energy recovered, then it makes no energy sense to look for that
      barrel -- no matter how high the money price of oil goes. It will make no
      energy sense to look for oil in America after 2005. [3] Domestic coal is
      not expected to be worth digging out of the ground by 2040 because it will
      consume more energy than will be recovered -- it will have become an energy
      "sink".

      With present methodology, USGS won't be able to differentiate "source"
      from "sink"! Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the USGS has
      been misguided. One is reminded of the Hubbert-Zapp fiasco that
      ultimately forced the director of the USGS to resign in disgrace. [4]
      The USGS was wrong before, and they are most certainly wrong again!

      It is absolutely imperative to introduce policymakers to these real-world
      energy concepts because the coming "peak" in global oil production marks
      the end of the market economy! A good analogy is a car with a twenty-
      gallon tank, but the nearest gas station is twenty-five gallons away. You
      can't fill your tank with trips to the gas station because you burn more
      than you can bring back -- it's physically impossible for you to cover your
      overhead (the size of your bankroll and the price of the gas are
      irrelevant). You might as well plant flowers in your car because it's
      "out of gas" -- forever.

      It's the same with the American economy: If America must spend more-than-one
      unit of energy to produce enough goods and services to buy one unit of
      energy, it's physically impossible to cover its overhead (again, money is
      irrelevant). At that point, America's economic machine is "out of gas" --
      forever
      POLLSTERS WITH AN ATTITUDE

      The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact
      there will be no thought, as we understand it now.
      Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think.
      Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
      -- George Orwell, 1948

      ... the world can, in effect, get along without natural
      resources ... at some finite cost, production can be freed
      of dependence on exhaustible resources altogether...
      -- Economic Nobel Laureate Robert Solow
      1974 lecture to the American Economic Association

      Orthodox economists like Robert Solow are trained -- like mindless robots --
      to believe that capitalism is powered by money. But scientists pointed
      out over a hundred years ago that capitalism is powered by energy:

      "It is, in fact, the fate of all kinds of energy of position to be
      ultimately converted into energy of motion. The former may be
      compared to money in a bank, or capital, the latter to money which
      we are in the act of spending ... If we pursue the analogy a step
      further, we shall see that the great capitalist is respected because
      he has the disposal of a great quantity of energy; and that whether
      he be nobleman or sovereign, or a general in command, he is powerful
      only from having something which enables him to make use of the
      services of others. When a man of wealth pays a labouring man to
      work for him, he is in truth converting so much of his energy of
      position into actual energy...

      "The world of mechanism is not a manufactory, in which energy is
      created, but rather a mart, into which we may bring energy of one
      kind and change or barter it for an equivalent of another kind, that
      suits us better - but if we come with nothing in hand, with nothing
      we will most assuredly return."
      -- Balfour Stewart, 1883

      But economists still do not study energy -- they study money and prices.
      Money isn't a measure of anything real, like tons or gallons. Money is
      social power because it "empowers" people to buy and do the things they
      want -- including buying and doing other people: politics.[5] Money is, in
      a word, "coercion". "Economic efficiency" is correctly seen as a political
      concept designed to conserve power for those who have it -- to make
      the rich, richer and the poor, poorer.

      Like a Tibetan monk spinning a prayer wheel, economists frequently point
      to prices and make claims about the real world. This or that is "better
      off" they say, and go on their way. But the price of a thing does not
      reveal its quantity nor its quality. How much is $10 worth of oil? (It
      depends upon when and where you bought it.) What's the net energy of
      $10 worth of oil? If oil costs $10 a barrel, how much is left in the ground?
      Who knows? Prices simply measure states of mind. This means that
      economists issue opinions on opinions. In short, economists are pollsters
      with an "attitude".

      The source of the economist's attitude (really a political agenda) is
      identified by another Economic Nobel Laureate, Milton Friedman:

      "Adam Smith's key insight was that both parties to an exchange
      can benefit and that, so long as cooperation is strictly voluntary,
      no exchange will take place unless both parties do benefit." [6]

      Economic professors like Friedman resort to meaningless, circular arguments
      and mathematical conjuring tricks to promote their political agendas. For
      example, economists assume people make "rational" [7] decisions but
      abstain from testing that assumption. Instead of testing, economists invoke
      "revealed preferences theory" which states that choices are rational
      because they are based on preferences that are known through the choices
      that are made [8]. In other words, meaningless, circular arguments.

      Shouldn't hucksters like Solow and Friedman have received Academy
      Awards for their performances rather than Nobel Prizes?

      THE WHITE HOUSE IS LIKE A SUBWAY

      Wherever men hold unequal power in society, they will strive
      to maintain it. They will use whatever means are convenient to
      that end and will seek to justify them by the most plausible
      arguments they are able to devise.
      -- Reinhold Neibuhr

      In fact, telling primates (human or otherwise) that their reasoning
      architectures evolved in large part to solve problems of dominance
      is a little like telling fish that their gills evolved in large part to
      solve the problem of oxygen intake from water.
      -- Denise Dellarosa Cummins

      In 1997, the Chinese lobbyist Johnny Chung observed: "I see the White House
      is like a subway - you have to put in coins to open the gates." Millions of
      Americans have made the same observation: American politics is based on
      money. Why is American politics based on money? The surprising answer
      is because the Founding Fathers intended it that way! The "market
      economy" was conceived as an antidote for the "peasant rebellions"
      of the past -- as a means to create universal values and peace. [9]

      The modern "market economy" is essentially money-based politics --
      one dollar, one vote. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was the first
      to call for rational "interest" (calculation) instead of irrational
      "passion" (e.g., love, hate or honesty) in public policy. Machiavelli's
      ideas were institutionalized when America's Founding Fathers explicitly
      designed a government to be run by competing moneyed interests:

      "In 1884, one of the wealthiest men of his time, Henry B. Payne,
      wanted to become the next United States senator from Ohio.
      Payne's son Oliver, the treasurer of Standard Oil, did his best to
      help. Just before the election for Ohio's seat, son Oliver sat at a
      desk in a Columbus hotel with a stack of bills in front of him,
      paying for the votes of the state legislators, who then elected
      U.S. senators." [10]

      COLLAPSE OF UNITY

      Society is in a perpetual state of war. Lacking moral
      and rational resources to organize its life ... men remain
      the victims of the individuals, classes and nations by
      whose force a momentary coerced unity is achieved.
      -- Reinhold Neibuhr

      Social "collapse" is defined as the rapid transformation to a lower degree
      of complexity, typically involving significantly less energy consumption.
      [11] Societies "collapse" when they become too complex for their energy
      base. Thus, the collapse of capitalism is inevitable because capitalism
      must grow to survive -- must become more-and-more complex and consume
      more-and-more energy.

      History teaches us that when economists get it wrong, millions die:

      "The true nature of the international system under which we were
      living was not realized until it failed ... To liberal economists the
      gold standard was purely an economic institution; they refused even
      to consider it as a part of a social mechanism. Thus it happened that
      the democratic countries were the last to realize the true nature of the
      catastrophe and the slowest to counter its effects...The dissolution of
      the system of world economy which had been in progress since 1900
      was responsible for the political tension that exploded in 1914." [12]

      Since America is ruled by the moneyed class (as our Founders intended),
      it's for them to decide whether or not to preserve anything of our society
      or simply allow it all to collapse into violence (multiply the Rodney King
      rebellion by a million). Ideally, the rich folks would require the USGS to
      include "net energy" estimates in their so-called "energy assessment"...
      because it would be nice to at least know when the music ends...
      and the camp fires begin...

      It rained blood, one breathed ashes, the smell of burned corpses
      poisoned the atmosphere.
      -- Conot [13]

      You've got to accentuate the positive ... Eliminate the negative ...
      Latch on to the affirmative ... Don't mess with Mister In-between.
      -- Advice from economist Julian Simon [14]
      --------
      [1] THE END OF CHEAP OIL, by Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherrère,
      Scientific American, March 1998 http://dieoff.com/page140.htm
      [2] USGS Fact Sheet FS-007-97: The USGS World Energy Program
      http://energy.usgs.gov/factsheets/worldenergy/world.html
      [3] TITANIC SINKS, http://dieoff.com/page143.htm
      [4] HUBBERT, THE PERSISTENT PROPHET, by Garrett Hardin
      http://dieoff.com/page143.htm#HubbertZapp
      [5] When I use "politics" or "political", I simply mean "one coercing
      another" in the broadest sense. To "coerce" is to compel one
      to act in a certain way -- either by reward or punishment. When
      I use the term "economists", I mean "standard" (or neoclassical)
      economists.
      [6] pp. 1-2, FREE TO CHOOSE, Milton and Rose Friedman; Harvest, 1980
      [7] "The social sciences have a long, rich history of writings on
      rationality. In the tradition of neoclassical economic science, as
      in the writings of Pareto (1935), an action is rational when it
      corresponds with the ends or goals sought. Rationality means the
      adaptation of means to ends. The more congruent the means to the
      ends, the more efficient the decision and, therefore, the more
      rational the organization (Weber 1947). Economists abstain from
      applying the test of rationality to ends." [p.16, DECISION MAKING:
      ALTERNATIVES TO RATIONAL CHOICE MODELS, Mary Zey; Sage, 1992]
      [8] p. 31, RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY AND ORGANIZATIONAL THEORY: A CRITIQUE,
      Zey; Sage, 1998
      [9] THE FOULEST OF THEM ALL http://dieoff.com/page168.htm
      Also see Huppert: "Peasant rebellions were not exceptional events.
      They erupted so frequently in the course of these four centuries
      that they may be said to have been as common in this agrarian
      society as factory strikes would be in the industrial world. In
      southwestern France alone, some 450 rebellions occurred between
      1590 and 1715. No region of Western Europe was exempted from this
      pattern of chronic violence. The fear of sedition was always
      present in the minds of those who ruled. It was a corrective, a
      salutary fear -- since only the threat of insurrection could act
      as a check against unlimited exactions." p 80, AFTER THE BLACK
      DEATH, George Huppert; Indiana Univ. Pr., 1998.
      [10] p. 12, THE MAXIMUM WAGE, Sam Pizzigati; Apex, 1992
      [11] COMPLEXITY, PROBLEM SOLVING, AND SUSTAINABLE SOCIETIES,
      by Joseph A. Tainter, 1996; http://dieoff.com/page134.htm
      [12] pp. 20-21, THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION,
      Karl Polyani; Beacon, 1957.
      [13] http://www.spectacle.org/695/perp.html
      [14] p. 17, GOOD MOOD, Julian Simon; Open Court, 1993. Simon is best
      known for his famous bet with Paul Ehrlich. Simon won $1,000 by
      showing that prices give no warning of natural resource depletion.
      Of course, the lesson of the bet was utterly lost on the comedy
      team of Samuelson & Nordhaus! See p. 330, ECONOMICS,
      Samuelson & Nordhaus; McGraw-Hill, 1998. Because of their total
      dependence on the measure of money, economists are uniquely
      unqualified to know anything about the real world -- unable to know
      shit from Shineola.
      ------------------------------------
      ANNOUNCEMENTS

      I would really like to find a copy of ENERGY AND RESOURCE QUALITY, by
      Charles A.S. Hall, Cutler J. Cleveland, Robert Kaufmann. If anyone knows
      where I can find a copy (or a photocopy), please drop a note to j@...

      FOLLOW UP TO LAST NEWSLETTER.

      In my last newsletter, I cited several prominent economists who either
      didn't know what the Club of Rome's LIMITS TO GROWTH (1972) was about
      or deliberately misrepresented it. Here is another: Charles I. Plosser. He
      is Dean and John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and Public
      Policy at the University of Rochester:

      "The doom and gloom picture it paints reminds me of the Malthusian-like
      end-of-the-world predictions offered by the Club of Rome in its 1972 book,
      Limits To Growth, which made popular the belief that by 1990 the world
      economy would collapse because we would not be able to feed the rapidly
      expanding world population and that in trying to do so we would exhaust our
      natural resources."
      http://www.ssb.rochester.edu/html/plosser2.html

      By 1990? Why doesn't Plosser do his homework? Is he too busy cramming
      his political ideology down his students' throats?

      If one actually reads the material, one finds that none of the COR's
      so-called "predictions" have failed. See: http://dieoff.org/page169.htm

      Louis T. Dallara
      > Lucent Technologies
      Product Design Information (PDI) Group- Dept. 52R143000
      Office: 2I-146E, 9999 Hamilton Blvd., Breinigsville, PA 18031
      Telephone: 610-391-2145 FAX: 610-391-2142
      e-mail: ldallara@...

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