Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Good Read: "Imagine There's No Oil"

Harpers Magazine Online has an interesting article up on its website for free. I used this article in my Cornerstone class entitled "Values, Culture, and the Environment" when I was teaching in St. Louis, and students enjoyed reading it even though it sobered them up from their iPods and reality TV. The was originally in the August '06 issue, and the author explores "peak oil," a concept we all should be familiar with.

If you have the time and inclination, check it out by clicking HERE.


Kenson said...

I read / skimmed a bit.......Too long and uninteresting. Also way to far left bullshit - I do not buy it all. The sky is dark, but it sure is not falling in the next 30 years. Although good intent, some of these folk seem not right.

If everthing goes to hell and a handbasket do you think gold will be the end all???

It might, but barter system for services and Mad Max might drive the aftermath of "no oil".

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Part of the author's schtick is that he's profiling the "peak oilers" with a critical (and sometimes darkly humorous) eye.

"Peak oil" is not "far left bullshit." Serious scientists (left-wingers, moderates, and right-wingers) have been talking about peak oil for decades upon decades. And oil companies know about it too since some are using more to oil to find less oil in more difficult places to find it. Oil is a finite resource, fella. It's about diminishing returns.

Kenson said...

The fact that we experience expotential growth in technology and approaches we will eventually come to a green energy system. The advances over time will also lead the way to find and extract our various natural resources.

I relate this situation to that of global warming. There are clear sides / views with facts for that support either case. All in all on both issues it would seem that reality is more likely in the middle of the two polarizing positions that we have on peak oil and global warming..

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

The scientific consensus about global warming is overwhelming. There has never been this type of consensus about a dire problem or concept like this, except maybe gravity. Sure, scientists argue about the severity of the effects, but there have been/are/will be serious effects.

The side that spews the garbage about how global warming isn't a big deal or won't don't much of anything are mainly self-proclaimed "experts," many of whom have their "studies" underwritten by Big Oil. Such so-called experts and pseudo-scientists have taken advantage of the corporate media's desire to traditionally winnow down an issue to two competing sides. Since we have numerous scientists who are warning us about it, then the media hacks naturally have to find some cranks who are ready to challenge well done research and bring up other "causes" like sunspots or jet streams.

Check out the rapid retreat of glaciers worldwide or the inundation of islands of the Pacific such a Tuvalu or the how the Inuit are being affected or how Greenland or Antartica is losing ice shelfs at an astronomical rate or how the permafrost isn't "perma" anymore.

In addition the "experts" and pseudo-scientists don't publish their work in peer-reviewed journals, publications that entail blind peer-review by scholars in their respective fields where the research methods and the research itself are dissected and questioned in a rigorous manner.

Also, the Bush Administration has been quite adept at silencing scientists or revising documents to their liking, taking out scientists' clear language about the dangers of global warming or other issues. Various scientists have testified about this problem and left agencies because of it for many years.

But I guess rigorous, peer-reviewed research or Nobel Prizes don't have the same type weight as cranks on cable news networks anymore.

What Bill McKibben related about global warming in _The End of Nature_ back in 1989 was prescient.

And people say they "care about the environment," but getting our leaders and citizens to do something substantial about environmental problems is another matter entirely. At least we now have two candidates for Prez who say they actually want to do something, rather than denying its existence or muzzling important scientific research.

@#$%, I could go on an on and on, and it's depressing as hell...

Kenson said...

Please put your liberal paintbrush away………Not all of the opponents of global warming are the “psuedo-scientists” that you claim.

There are many scientists that believe in the concept of global warming, but do not fully adhere to the fact that all of the “warming” is caused due to
CO2. There are many scientists that are on this side of the fence – I give you the fact that many totally against the causes of global warming and the whole concept of global warming may not be from top Ivy League or world-renowned circles. But they have degrees and experience just as other scientists do.

To paint this group “psuedo-scientists” would be similar to calling all University Professors from small rural colleges a “psuedo-professors”. Just because a professor is from a small school, does not automatically mean he/she is a bad instructor.

There are also some slight “holes” on your side of the fence……….Check out: &

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Certainly, there are other factors than just CO2 and Methane.

The pseudo-scientists I refer to are the ones who go on cable networks and call themselves scientists but really aren't reputable in the field. And it has nothing to do with whether or not they're Ivy League scholars.

As you would probably anticipate, I was not implying that smaller school professors are not as good (I don't see how you inferred that from my post). In fact, many professors from small schools or directional state universities do some really good research.

I copied and pasted the code for the article, but nothing came up. I am wary of Glen Beck since he's seems to be a media hack from what I've seen. He's the same guy who, when interviewing the House Rep from MN who is Muslim, said something to this effect, "You're a Muslim, so you're the enemy, right?" I'm not kidding. I watched the interview and was flabbergasted.

Until I can get Beck's stuff to come up, I'll check out the media matters one for sure.

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Kenson, the Media Matters article destroys the credibility of Beck's special.

So I don't understand the "holes" to which you refer?

Kenson said...

Brief follow-up:
1) Oops………That is what I get for only skimming.
2) The University Professor bit was meant to spoof you and make a point.
3) The very very very small holes that did come from the media matters article were the issues of tuning down some of Gore’s Hollywood Documentary Hype, urban heat islands, and groups with arterial motives (as in the case of farming and ethanol).

As a side note, what is that phrase about monkey’s and a typewriter??? It seems like this monkey accidentally got some egg on his face. Your “liberal side” may have one this battle, but not the war :).