RE: [OPE] Reflections on the oil price controversy

Date: Thu Jul 17 2008 - 09:12:46 EDT

>  I am convinced that we will see people adjusting > to prices three to four times higher - before major changes in > heating systems, transportation habits etc. etc.
Hi Anders:
I'm not so sure about that. We have already begun to see
'adjustments', most notably in  relation to consumer demand
for different types of automobiles.  The 'recreational' use of 
automobiles in the US (by which I mean, trips other than 
to and from work and necessary shopping) has already declined.
If there is a significant adjustment lag it may be due more to state
policies than consumer preferences. For instance, the lack of
public transportation systems in many regions.  The cost of 
electricity - which tends to be state-regulated - is also an 
issue for alternative heating systems, etc. 
The real meaning of this when put in the context of the US
economy is this: as prices for working-class consumption goods
(including, but not limited to gas, oil, and oil derivatives) goes
up, nominal wages are relatively stagnant and can be 
expected to remain that way for some time given the relative
weakness of unions and the relatively low demand for labour
power, etc. This can only mean that the consequence will  be
a reduction in  living standards - relative impoverishment - for 
the working class.  I also anticipate that additional state
spending and borrowing to bail-out the failed banks and
lending institutions will further increase the tax burden of the
working class and thereby further erode their living standards.
> I do not think peal oil is very interesting. Oil will peak of course. > But in a situation were dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions are needed - > the best would be if the fossil fuel resources would have been > completely depleted already.
The "best" from what and whose perspective? 
> There is enough coal to destroy the kind of climate that are need for > humans. That's a risk I am not willing to take. We know that fossil > fuel is finite. We know that in some hundred years we have to be > based on renewable energy. 
Are you really confident in that time estimate?
> If CO2 (and other gasses) were not > greenhouse gases the only problem would be that capitalism is > squandering resources it has taken Nature millions of years to build > up. But since they are greenhouse gases we have to short-cut the road > to the fossil free society - in a couple of decades.
Yeah, but is there any reason to be confident that we will?
 > The "Transitional program" has to be profoundly rewritten in light of > this challenge to humanity.
What, specifically, did you have in mind? For instance, what energy
demands do you view as 'democratic demands' and which do you view as 
'transitional demands'?
In solidarity, Jerry

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