" or that people who warn of potential "die-off" scenarios due to overshoot and resource constraints are actually hoping for such a thing to happen; and that all this is somehow backed by the oil and coal industries themselves- does seem to me to have a lot in common with David Icke-style paranoia, with little evidence to support it."
-ASPO was funded by Schlumberger and Halliburton, among others. FACT.
-Hirsch report calling for expanded drilling. FACT.
-Petroconsultants, employers of Laharrere and Campbell, owned by Thyssen. FACT.
"Why not Shakti? What is esoteric about these debates? Hubbert got US peak pretty much correct; maybe it is useful to have an idea of the timescale we have to create this new energy infrastructure. Isnt this part of what Transtion is doing? What form do you see this taking? How much time have we got? How much can we reduce consumption? Surely all these are just the debates we should be having- and Transition is doing a great job in facilitating them."
-I agree that the debates are important. But it sounds as though TT is past the point of debating. In their minds, Peak Oil within the next five years is a done deal and anyone who disagrees with them must be crazy. I am certainly not arguing that people bury their heads in the sand. In fact, my "plan" would be far more radical than the TT one. But it would involve international laws and treaties, massive government controls, huge tax increases on polluters, a Marshall plan to get us off oil and onto alternative powers. I don't see us getting there with the TT blueprint.
"There are dozens of engineers and geologists who study the timings and consequences of this, for example on the Oil Drum."
-No, you're right, it's NOT just Heinberg! It's guys on the "Oil Drum" like Richard Duncan...
"Today, the Oil Drum is featuring an article by pseudo-scientist Richard "worldwide permanent electrical blackouts by 2007" Duncan, and the intro by Nate Hagens begins like this:
This is a guest posting of Richard Duncan's latest "Olduvai" update, which is also featured in the Summer 2009 issue of The Social Contract Quarterly www.thesocialcontract.com.
The uninitiated may not know what is going on here, so let me explain. The "Social Contract Quarterly" is not a scientific journal. It's a rag published and edited by overt white supremacists."
-The Oil Drum, like Heinberg, also has zero credibility.
" However, I didnt know about Heinberg's connection with Velikovsky (who I had not previously heard of)- pretty weird stuff, thanks for pointing that out. "
-Yep. Most people don't know that. Sure doesn't do much for his credibility does it?
"This does not counteract the basic peak oil theory, however- to do that you would need to produce some actual evidence of flow rates, oil reserves etc- the work that ASPO etc do. If their figures are so completely wrong, where do we get accurate ones?"
-Agreed. How about the USGS, which is predicting 2037? I'm not saying Peak Oil won't happen, but to discuss it without analyzing the cottage industry of doomers (and weird right-wing mystic freaks and New Agers) is incomplete analysis. How about university studies, who have far less at stake politically and economically than the corporate funders of the ASPO? That is what I find so alarming about the "movement": the small number of actual professors in this field from MAJOR universities that are ever cited. Meanwhile, with Climate Change, you've got thousands of the most respected scientists in the world having no hesitation putting their names on papers, petitions, statements, etc. Peak Oil? Not so much. In the Transition Town primer, there should be several pages of university academics in fields like petoleum geology with links to their papers. Instead we get... Heinberg.
"Shakti, you say you have no interest in the science of Peak Oil, yet your whole thesis is based on the assumption that it is incorrect; at the same time you quote official sources that put the date for world peak at around 2030. (Arent they the same official sources you imply are part of the conspiracy? You did rather lose me there...)"
-Sorry, I should have put that another way. I've long been interested in sustainability and looking for ways to end our dependence on fossil fuels for 20 years. You had me at "climate change" and "it's bad for your lungs and the planet to burn it". No peak oil panic required to get ME moving. I had always figured that we would run out someday, but my suspicion is that climate change is going to cause for more problems for us FASTER than Peak Oil will. That is where our focus should be. In my opinion, linking together "climate change" and "Peak Oil" causes credibility problems for climate change people every time some crackpot like Ruppert or Heinberg predicts "massive heating shortages in American cities by Christmas 2005". It makes it easier for the climate-deniers to trash global warming. I became interested in Peak Oil, not because I thought one day "hmm, I'm really interested in reading a bunch of oil depletion charts", but because I was interested in the large number of fascists hiding within the so-called "911 Truth movement", which in a direct line spawned a bunch of fascists hiding out in the Peak Oil movement.
As for "official sources", I have never claimed that the USGS is part of any sinister conspiracy. I know people who work for them and they are some of the least political, least agenda-driven people you'd ever meet. They like rocks. That's about it. I trust them far more than ASPO, Matt Simmons, etc. And "government" is a big place. In a democracy, you will always have one segment of government competing for different interests. For example, the Dept. of Commerce and the EPA.
" Doesnt this make you a "late peaker"- ie your disagreement is not whether oil will peak, but when; and presumably you think that the consequences of world oil peak will not be a die-off. "
-Sure, I can deal with the term "late peaker". I'm certainly not part of the "abiotic oil" crowd. But I'm also not going to sit idly by while people take at face value the word of a) an ex-LAPD cop b) a "catastrophist" New Ager like Heinberg or c) the guy who set up the "secret Cheney energy task force" over the scientific work of groups like the USGS.
"However, as to the influences of New Ageism and anthroposophy on the Transition Movement, I think you are closer to the mark, and I feel Rob is a little disingenuous here. "
"It seems to me that New Age beliefs, including anthroposophy, are found throughout the Transition movement, and are likely to be having an influence. It doesnt matter than they are not overt "official" positions: Transiton is wide open to them, but this is not a conspiracy; rather, I see groups like Transition as being very much part of a wider post-modern culture which simply has no defences against the spread of such ideologies."
-Brilliant passage. Yep, "everything is OK, everything must be tolerated". We have gone so far in humanity's noble struggle to combat things like religious bigotry, racism, etc. that we are actually creating a situation where sheer thuggery can thrive. For example, where I live, I have seen the language of tolerance that was once used for truly disparaged groups like gays begin to be applied to groups like nazi biker gangs. "We must understand them, we must tolerate them, we must look at the violence that is also within us and thus our fault as well". Really? How about we just lock 'em up?
"Permaculture is in the same position- my view is, it has been hijacked by the new age beliefs, rather than conspiring to promote them."
-Yep. I'm very much in favor of Permaculture, but it has definitely been hijacked (your term is the only one that I could justify using myself) by Waldorf types. A friend of mine is a secular instructor in this area and it drives him nuts.
"In the case of alternative therapies however, these are overtly and explicitly promoted in the Transition Timeline:
Despite the whole basis of Transition being based entirely on "reductionist" science of PO and Climate Change, few people in Transition seem to able or interested in grasping fully the scientific method; critical thinking is not evenly applied, and skepticism in general is viewed with mistrust and even hostility in my experience."
-Absolutely. For example, the USGS report was attacked, not with science, but with "YOU MUST BELIEVE" fanaticism. That is what I find so troubling: the lack of ability to consider that they just MIGHT be wrong. Hell, I might be wrong, I'll admit it. But I thought Campbell, Simmons, etc. were all wrong years ago when they were predicting "disaster" on dates that have already passed. Despite their knowledge in the field, and my admitted lack of professional expertise in oil and geology, I was RIGHT and they were WRONG. New York City did NOT lose access to natural gas in the winter of 2007, OK? And "scientific method"? Graham, you are so 20th Century! (sarcasm)
"Many Transition groups seem to have adopted Joanna Macey's "Despair and Empowerment Work" - the feeling I get is that this is becoming common currency in Permaculture as well, promoted uncritically as if it is "fact" rather than the ideology it clearly is."
-Thanks for the tip, will look into Macey.
"So these beliefs may not be official policy, clearly if I try to promote, say, biodynamics through a transition group it is unlikely to raise an eyebrow- while if I came representing the BNP this would cause a lot of controversy!
(The Organics movement is pretty much the same: Biodynamics always closely associated, with alternative therapies not far behind)."
-On the money. It was Heinberg's connections to Virginia Abernathy, and David Pimentel, known racists, that first clued me into something being wrong with him. And always remember: the Nazis had NO problem slipping into counter-culture movements like the Wandervogel, health food, vegetarianism, animal rights, then turning them for their own purposes. A lesson that we appear not to have learned.
"Much of this ideology seems to come from an essentially urban mind-set that yearns for a lost paradise and thinks (dangerously) that "natural" is "better" and we should distrust the technology that has allowed us to escape (temporarily?) the callous competition for survival in nature. This does seem to me to be an elitist western view when most of the world's poor would just love to have a fraction of the technology we have to make small improvements in their lives. (See Stewart Brand "Whole earth Discipline")."
-Exactly. Also, is it just me or is it hard to push the Kinks song "Village Green Preservation Society" or the movie "Hot Fuzz" out of ones' head when reading this thread? I certainly can't...
"Read through the Holistic Science MSc.: this is a very good distillation of New Age thought, with an impressive line-up of speakers including Deepak Chopra, King of Woo. The whole course looks to me like it is promoting the new Age religious view of intelligence (consciousness) in Nature- really just another form of Intelligent Design, and the belief that "nature" cares about humanity (it doesnt)."
-Absolutely. While I have felt Rob H has generally been on the level, though perhaps a bit misguided, it was the discussion of Schumacher that made me start to doubt his honesty. This is a New Agey college, and Schumacher was a New Agey guy. No way around it.
"So I think that there are "cultish" aspects of Transition, but it is clearly not a cult; there is no conspiracy. For the most part, New Age beliefs are quite obvious and no attempt is made to hide any of it, because many people involved actually believe this stuff. They are not conversant with science and regard rational thought as somehow old-fashioned and oppressive."
-I don't think it's necessarily a cult, but I definitely feel there are people who will try to bring cultish aspects into it. They already are. As for a "conspiracy", I'm just asking questions and pointing out some uncomfortable realities.