Solutions to peak oil – dial back our population and standard of living to pre-1949. Peak oil #3

Is quoting someone and explaining his position an ad hominem attack? That means attacking someone personally instead of criticizing their ideas.

I don’t think so.

Check out the solution to our energy problems according to the founder of the ‘peak oil’ concept, Dr. M. King Hubbert, PhD.  Also, I’m not sure if Dr. Hubbert’s solutions are technically in the fascist or communist camp. You decide.

I’ve introduced the peak oil concept here and here.

This is from Daniel Yergin in a Wall Street Journal article There Will Be Oil.

In the 1930s, while teaching at Columbia University, Hubbert became active in a movement called Technocracy and served as its educational director. Holding politicians and economists responsible for the debacle of the Great Depression, Technocracy promoted the idea that democracy was a sham and that scientists and engineers should take over the reins of government and impose rationality on the economy.

Technocracy envisioned a no-growth society and the elimination of the price system, to be replaced by the wise administration of the Technocrats. Hubbert believed that a “pecuniary” system, guided by the “hieroglyphics” of economists, was the road to ruin.

I’m not sure from Mr. Yergin’s short description whether Dr. Hubbert would have left ownership of the resources in the hands of private citizens (fascism) or have the government take over ownership (communism). Since he wrote in the 30s it could go either way.

In the ‘30s he might have thought fascism was the solution.  On the other hand, Amity Shlaes has provided exquisite detail in her book The Forgotten Man that lots of intellectuals in the 1930s were infatuated with communism.  Since Dr. Hubbert continued forming the foundation of his ideas into the 40s, he probably would have preferred communism.

Whichever it is, he preferred totalitarianism to capitalism at the time.

Perhaps that is an ad hominem attack, but I don’t think so. When someone is proposing ideas that would cripple the U.S. economy, I believe it is worthwhile to understand the person’s perspective. At a fundamental level, Dr. Hubbert’s perspective in the ’30s and ’40s was totalitarianism.

On to the corrosive solutions.

You can see one of Dr. Hubbert’s key writings from 1949 in Science magazine at “Energy from Fossil Fuels“.

The doctor’s conclusion on page 108 and 109 of his Science article is that unless we adjust from the soon-ending supply of fossil fuel to solar or water power, the world-wide population will collapse due to catastrophe. We will not be able to sustain the worldwide population and wealth that existed in 1949 more that a short period of time. We need to transition to a more enlightened pattern of cultural thinking. The wrong path would be for us to

.. continue to react to the fundamentally simple physical, chemical, biological needs of our social complex with the sacred-cow behavior patterns of our agrarian and prescientific past.

We obviously need to adjust our standard of living to something lower than it was in 1949. Our existence depends on it:

However, it is upon our ability to eliminate this lag {a slow adjustment to the end of fossil fuels} to evolve a culture more nearly in conformity with the limitations imposed upon us by the basic properties of matter and energy that the future of our civilization largely depends.

Please, read his writing.

Please. Don’t take my word for it. There’s more poison like those two comments I quoted.

Next discussion – proven reserves.

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