Wednesday, May 03, 2006


So it seems that Venezuela has been buying petroleum from Russia just to meet its contractual obligations, and this leads inevitably to speculation. The dumb kind.

Ah, Peak Oil, i.e. The Rapture for lefties.

...we can, all too easily, envision a dying civilization, the landscape littered with the rusting hulks of SUVs.” (David Goodstein, Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil)

Some predict returning to the semi-rural days of the early 1900s. Other suggest we could return to pre-industrial and even early-agricultural days. Still others suggest a return to Paleolithic times, where necessary skills include making your own obsidian knives and starting fires with a flintstone. Link.

Our present systems will slide from dysfunctional to untenable.... But it will be wild, especially at first. We will have to accept again what our not-so-distant ancestors never forgot: Pain is inevitable and, ultimately, security is not a human possibility....There is no point minimizing the suffering and danger in store for most of us. Michael Ventura, Austin Chronicle.

Oil wars seem inevitable....The wars of the Twenty First Century could be the first sign of a return to a historical way of life, a regression in civilisation. ("The Wolf at the Door: A Beginner's Guide to Peak Oil")

But there is a silver lining, the same way there is in the Christian millenialism that the Peak Oil cult parodies: The end of the age of oil will mean an end to predatory capitalism and a return to simple hippie barter economies. It's a lefty dream come true, simultaneously forcing people to end global warming and meat eating and bringing about a glorious world that sounds more than anything like the parking lot at a Phish concert:

With grains a priority for food and fuel, and transport prohibitively expensive, the price of beef will be too high to sustain the cattle and leather industries, plastic will be too dear for footwear, and cobblers (shoemakers) will have their hands full keeping old footwear serviceable and making the old into the new – and they'll have ready apprentices. The same goes for local dressmakers, seamstresses, and tailors – in a nondisposable society, without the money for new fashions every season, these and many other practical pursuits will thrive. So will tinkers and mechanics – anyone with the skill to keep appliances going long past their shelf life, and anyone who knows how to build handy items from scrap. Services will be traded as often as purchased. Local actors, dancers, musicians, and storytellers may again become crucial to communities that can no longer depend on force-fed media. (Ventura)

But of course, this entire fever-dream scenario assumes that, as with others, Venezuelan oil wells really are running dry. It ignores the consequences of the Chavez regime's eager nationalization and socialization of its oil industry; the consequences--to anyone willing to admit what socialism means to an economy--are predictable:

Stratfor.com estimates that since Chavez became president, starting in 1998, "PDVSA has lost about 1.5 million bpd of its net crude oil production." The main reasons have been the replacement of capable engineers and workers who disagreed with Chavez's revolutionary views, with inexperienced, and in many cases incapable replacements, and the lack of attention to infrastructure maintenance and improvement. The result of the bad management and neglect, has been the steady erosion and near incapacitation of a major oil-producing region of Venezuela, the Western portion of the country, where as many as 10,000 wells have been estimated to have been rendered mostly useless. Venezuela is nominally the world's fifth largest oil producer.

The lefty media cannot bring itself to question socialism in action, so surely something else must be to blame, in the same way that "nuclear power," not Communism, is to be blamed for Chernobyl. And of course the "peak oil" theory itself is, in essence, a reproach to the USA for its profligate, gas-guzzling ways, for using more than "its share."

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