RE: [OPE] Reflections on the oil price controversy

From: Anders Ekeland (
Date: Tue Jul 22 2008 - 02:28:36 EDT

>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.

Of course you will get these kind of minor adjustments, but I had in 
mind major steps out of a fossil fuel based (car as main person 
transport, oil/gas heating etc.) That people are lock-in to the car - 
too often public transport is not a realistic alternative is of 
course part of the picture. But in Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, 
Paris, London wherer public transport is an alternative, where biking 
is an alternative, where an electric bike, scooter or car is an 
alternative - I guess petrol prices must be three or four times 
higher before we really se major changes. As a part of the "budget" 
petrol is still not that much. Many people have higher phonebills today.

But let's hope that demand for public transport will rise.

> > 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?

 From allmost every perspective. More CO2 emmissions might make this 
planet rather uncomfortable for humans when major ecosystems - 
especially when the oceans break down, when the temperated 
sone  becomes much warmer etc. etc. When we know for sure - then it 
is too late.

> > 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?

Did not get your point here. Very hard to estimate a) the total 
amount of fossil resources that can/will be found and exploited. My 
point is that these resources are finite and that the time horison is 
counted in hundred of years. One - two - three - there is a lot of 
coal, tar sand etc.
But we now that in the foreseeable future - mabye only hundred years 
- we must rely on renewable energy (or we can create other kind on 
non sustainable engergy regimes based on nuclear power - another 
serious, but less acute problem).

> > 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?
No reason at all to be confident, on the contrary - it would be a 
true miracle if humanity managed to do so. But "our" task IMO is to 
contribute to make that miracle happen.

> > 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'?

My point is that in hundred years we might more be confronted with 
the death agony of the human race - caused by its inability to stop 
the "run-away" accumulation logic of from destroying our eco system. 
The logic of transitional demands was correct in a context (hungry 
workers, big soc.dem parties, small, no environmental 
disaster) - now we have workers whos major problem s that they are 
too fat (in the advanced countries, not world wide of course), the 
soc.dem parties have become social liberal etc. etc.

Let's round off here. My initial point was on demand versus 
speculation as a cause for the steep and big rise in oil prices.


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