peak oil

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pages: 127 words: 51,083

The Oil Age Is Over: What to Expect as the World Runs Out of Cheap Oil, 2005-2050 by Matt Savinar

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Albert Einstein, clean water, energy security, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, invisible hand, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, post-oil, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, Rosa Parks, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Y2K

Bush's Energy Advisor, Matthew Simmons, addressed this issue at the Paris Peak Oil Conference, stating: I think it is human nature, basically, to say that we really like to have pleasant thoughts. The one crying wolf is abandoned unless the wolf turns out to be already at the front door, and by then, the cry is generally too late. And crises are basically problems, by definition, that have gone ignored. And all great crises were ignored until it became too late to do anything about it.70 Peak Oil isn't "Y2K Reloaded." Peak Oil differs from previous “end of the world” scenarios such as Y2K in the following ways: 1. Peak Oil is not an “if” but a “when.” Furthermore, it is not a “when during the next 1,000 years,” but a “when during the next 10 years.” 2. Peak Oil is based on scientific fact, not subjective speculation. 3.

The failure to meet this challenge will threaten our nation's economic prosperity, compromise our national security, and will literally alter the way we lead our lives.”5 If you are like 99% of the people reading this letter, you have never heard of the term "Peak Oil." I had not heard the term until a few months ago. Since learning about Peak Oil, I have had my worldview, and basic assumptions about my own individual future, turned completely upside down. A little about myself: A few months ago, I was a 25-year-old law school graduate who found out he had just passed the California Bar Exam. I was excited about a potentially long and prosperous career in the legal profession, getting married, having kids, contributing to my community, and living the "American Dream." Peak Oil has caused me to seriously question how realistic this vision of my life is. Whether you're 25 or 75, an attorney or an auto mechanic, what you are about to read may shake the foundations of your life. Below you will find a brief explanation of Peak Oil, the ramifications, and what we can do about it.

If the media was to publicly announce the truth about Peak Oil, investment in the stock market would evaporate, the economy would plunge, chaos would ensue, and the whole deck of cards would come crashing down before our leaders and corporate elite have a chance to secure their own well-being. B. Ramifications of Peak Oil are Too Shocking to Deal With The ramifications of Peak Oil are so serious that it is hard for anybody, including journalists and politicians, to accept it as reality. C. Why Bother? People will Just Kill the Messenger The average American may not be emotionally prepared to deal with Peak Oil. Peak Oil is a literal death sentence to much of our population as well as a figurative death sentence to the energy-intensive American way of life. When faced with such news, most people choose to "kill the messenger." As Jimmy Carter found out in 1980, making the end of the age of oil an issue is political suicide. 62. In light of the energy situation we are facing, why is the Bush administration spending money and cutting services like there's no tomorrow?


pages: 235 words: 65,885

Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg, James Howard (frw) Kunstler

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anti-communist, back-to-the-land, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demographic transition, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Fractional reserve banking, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, land reform, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, urban planning

Her workshops are designed to help participants process more thoroughly, quickly, and effectively the grief they feel over the destruction of people and planet, and to overcome the psychology of denial and helplessness that keeps them mired in the status quo. Workshop tools include ritualistic exercises and guided creative processes. In the past few years Joanna has been supportive of Peak Oil education and I’ve been delighted to offer public presentations with her on a couple of occasions. Some Peak Oil groups in North America and Australia have offered workshops based on her work, including one called “The Heart of Peak Oil” held in Melbourne in 2006. More than once I’ve heard the comment that at least some Peak Oil and Climate Change activists seem strangely happy despite the dire nature of their message. Perhaps the Kübler-Ross formula, though useful, is insufficient for the purpose of describing the full cycle of psychological reactions among environmental activists.

Rob Hopkins and Robert Hirsch have both spoken of our need for mobilization regarding Peak Oil and Climate Change as being on the same scale as the Second World War. The evidence plainly shows that the threat to our collective survival presented by Peak Oil and Climate Change today is greater than that posed by the Axis powers during the 1940s. If ever in the past a heroic collective effort was called for, it is needed even more now. Do I think it’s going to happen? Frankly, it’s not likely. Is it possible in principle? Yes, just barely. As long as there is life and breath, we should be working toward that end. If nothing else, we’ll feel better about ourselves and about life in general if we at least try. 8 Bridging Peak Oil and Climate Change Activism THE PROBLEMS OF Climate Change and Peak Oil both result from societal dependence on fossil fuels.

According to one recent US government-sponsored study, if the peak does occur soon replacements are unlikely to appear quickly enough and in sufficient quantity to avert what it calls “unprecedented” social, political, and economic impacts.2 This book is not an introduction to the subject of Peak Oil; several existing volumes serve that function (including my own The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies).3 Instead it addresses the social and historical context in which Peak Oil is occurring, and explores how we can reorganize our thinking and action in several critical areas to better navigate this perilous time. Our socio-historical context takes some time and perspective to appreciate. Upon first encountering Peak Oil, most people tend to assume it is merely a single isolated problem to which there is a simple solution — whether of an eco-friendly nature (more renewable energy) or otherwise (more coal).


pages: 257 words: 94,168

Oil Panic and the Global Crisis: Predictions and Myths by Steven M. Gorelick

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California gold rush, carbon footprint, energy security, energy transition, flex fuel, income per capita, invention of the telephone, meta analysis, meta-analysis, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, price stability, profit motive, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, statistical model, Thomas Malthus

The oil analysts focus not on when the last drop of oil will be pumped from the ground but rather the time when oil production will reach its peak (“peak oil”). It is their belief that the occurrence of peak oil production marks the beginning of the end, that is, the point when production can no longer keep up with demand. The argument goes that at the peak of oil production, the 4 End of the Oil Era end is in sight, and it is urgent that a fundamental restructuring of our oilbased society begin. So, when do analysts say that “peak oil” will occur? Surprisingly, the projections do not differ by much. The average collective estimate is that global peak oil production will occur before 2025, with the more pessimistic analysts suggesting that the peak has already occurred and we just do not know it, and the optimists pushing the date out to almost 2050.

The date corresponding to this peak (actually occurring in 1970) is the time of maximum oil production, or “peak oil” production. Beyond peak oil, supplies presumably become depleted more rapidly than production from new discoveries can be brought on line. The curve after the peak falls back toward a level of nominal production. Eventually, the resource is exhausted when cumulative production nears the value of the oil endowment. One might wonder how robust the curve-fitting procedure might be. That is, perhaps it is possible to fit the historical data with a variety of curves, each showing a different time to peak oil. It turns out that, even though the shapes of various curves that fit these data might be a bit different, the time of peak oil estimated using the approach does not vary by much. This is because there are two primary constraints controlling the curve-fitting process.

The various predictions based on different estimated oil endowment values all give similar times to peak oil. This is the main reason why oil analysts’ predictions of the time of global peak oil typically vary by only about 20 to 30 years, even though they assume different oil endowment figures. This is also why the predictions do not differ significantly from Hubbert’s predictions, first presented half a century ago. Endowment 450 billion barrels 8 Oil production in the coterminous US 6 (billion barrels per year) Endowment 200 billion barrels Endowment 300 billion barrels 4 2 Production data (through 1956) 0 1850 1900 1950 2000 2050 2100 Figure 1.4 Curves based on Hubbert’s approach that match US lower 48 state production data through 1956, when Hubbert first made his predictions, but assuming oil endowments of 200, 300, and 450 billion barrels: estimated peak oil production occurred in 1971, 1981, and 1990, respectively.


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, working poor

Crucially, in this chapter we will see how and why the most important of these non-financial limits to economic expansion are matters of concern not just for future generations, but for markets and policy makers — indeed, for everyone — today. Oil In the Introduction we briefly surveyed the Peak Oil scenario and the events surrounding the oil price spike of 2008. It is tempting here to launch into a lengthy discussion of Peak Oil and what it means to industrial society. I’ve been writing about this subject for over a decade, and it would be easy to fill the space between these covers simply with updates to existing publications. But that’s not what is required here; for our immediate purposes, all that is needed is an overview of some main points regarding oil depletion that are relevant to the question of whether and how economies can continue growing. Readers who wish to know more about Peak Oil should refer to sources listed in the end notes.1 When discussion turns to the economy, most of the ensuing talk tends to focus on money — prices, wages, and interest rates.

This is the position of Nicole Foss; see “Stoneleigh Takes on John Williams,” theauto maticearth.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-8-2010-stoneleigh-takes-on-john.html. Chapter Three 1. There are now many books on Peak Oil, among which some of the best are: Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak (New York: Hill and Wang, 2005); Matthew R. Simmons, Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy (New York: Wiley, 2005); Paul Roberts, The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004); Richard Heinberg, The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society, 2005). Two websites offer daily updated links to articles relevant to Peak Oil: EnergyBulletin.net and TheOilDrum.com. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, with chapters in many countries, convenes annual conferences for the discussion of new data relevant to oil depletion and our energy future. 2. “...

Kjell Aleklett, “Spin Slips Off Production Numbers — World Energy Outlook 2010 Is a Cry For Help,” Aleklett’s Energy Post, posted November 11, 2010. 4. Jeremy Gilbert, “No We Can’t: Uncertainty, Technology, and Risk,” presented at the ASPO-USA 2010 Peak Oil Conference, Washington, DC, October 9, 2010. 5. Jessica Bachman, “Special Report: Oil and Ice: Worse Than the Gulf Spill?” Reuters.com, posted November 8, 2010. 6. Charles Maxwell, quoted in Wallace Forbes, “Bracing For Peak Oil Production by Decade’s End,” Forbes.com, posted September 13, 2010; Eoin O’Carroll, “Pickens: Oil Production Has Peaked,” The Christian Science Monitor, posted June 18, 2008. 7. Clint Smith, “New Zealand Parliament Peak Oil Report: The Next Oil Shock?” Energy Bulletin, posted October 1, 2010, energybulletin.net/stories/2010-10-14/next-oil-shock; Stefan Schultz, “Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis,” Spiegel Online, posted September 1, 2010; UK Industry study; US Joint Forces Command, The Joint Operating Environment 2010 (Suffolk, VA: USJFCOM, 2010). 8.


pages: 422 words: 113,830

Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips

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algorithmic trading, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency peg, diversification, Doha Development Round, energy security, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, mobile money, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route

Not only do the Chinese command $1.46 trillion of foreign-currency reserves, but their commitment to oil geopolitics has made Beijing a rare official adherent to peak-oil theory and strategy. Officials of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil noted that a peak-oil workshop was held on October 26, 2007, at Beijing’s China University of Petroleum, attended by representatives of the three Chinese national oil corporations, the president and secretary of ASPO International, the vice director of the Strategy Office (China Energy Office) and the chancellor and vice chancellor of the China University of Petroleum. The latter two public officials were elected president and vice president of ASPO-CHINA, and “it was unanimously agreed that ASPO China should be formed and that Peak Oil research and modelling is essential to China. As seven of the nine new leaders of China have been engineering students it is expected that Peak Oil will feature in future government policy-making decisions.”22 Despite the skepticism of U.S.

., chapter 1. 3 “World Will Face Oil Crunch ‘in Five Years,’ ” Financial Times, July 10, 2007. 4 “High Prices Threaten to Linger,” Financial Times, July 18, 2007. 5 Toni Johnson, “Reading Oil’s Tea Leaves,” Daily Analysis, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org, July 26, 2007. 6 “Total Chief Warns on Oil Output,” Financial Times, October 31, 2007. 7 “Chevron CTO Says Peak Oil Will Not Be a Disaster,” Energy Bulletin, www.energybulletin.net, October 24, 2007. 8 Energy Watch Group, “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society, www.yubanet.com, October 23, 2007. 9 “Why ‘Peak Oil’ May Soon Pique Your Interest,” Christian Science Monitor, August 16, 2007. 10 “Libya Oil Head: Global Oil Output Can Only Reach 100 Million B/D,” Dow Jones Newswire, October 30, 2007. 11 Dave Cohen, “The Perfect Storm,” Energy Bulletin, www.energybulletin.net, October 31, 2007. 12 Energy Watch Group, “Peak Oil Could Trigger.” 13 Case Western Peak Oil Initiative, “Peak-Oil When?” October 2007 Report, www.peakoilwhen.org. 14 “China to Reach Peak Oil Production As Early As 2015,” Interfax-China, October 29, 2007. 15 “SCO Summit Focuses on Energy Cooperation,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, August 17, 2007. 16 See “Bush’s Royal Trouble,” Washington Post, March 28, 2007. 17 “Saudi Arabia Cuts Oil Sales to U.S., Ups China,” Washington Times, September 15, 2007. 18 “Peak Oil Review,” Energy Bulletin, October 29, 2007. 19 “Analysis: Mideast Oil and Chinese Arms,” Energy Daily (UPI Hong Kong), October 26, 2007. 20 Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “Chinese-Saudi Cooperation: Oil but Also Missiles,” Policy Watch no. 1095, April 21, 2006. 21 “IEA Says Oil Prices Will Stay ‘Very High,’ ” International Herald-Tribune, October 31, 2007. 22 “Saudi Arabia and China Extend Ties Beyond Oil,” China Brief, Jamestown Foundation, September 27, 2005. 23 “Saudi Arabia Tops China’s September Crude Imports List,” Platt’s, November 8, 2007. 24 “China Leads Race for World’s Riches,” Telegraph (London), November 10, 2007. 25 See especially “Analysis: Mideast Oil and Chinese Arms.” 26 “SCO Summit Focuses on Energy Cooperation.” 27 “Fueled by Billions in Oil Wealth, It Looks to Reclaim the USSR’s Status as a Global Military Power,” Christian Science Monitor, August 17, 2007, and “Russia Arms Old and New Friends in Asia,” International Herald-Tribune, September 5, 2007. 28 “Russia Arms Old and New Friends in Asia.” 29 No appropriate data is available.

The benefit to the United States of an oil-supported currency is an endangered prerogative, especially if that commodity’s production is close to a peak that obliges a transition in the world’s energy regime. (PARTIAL) PEAK OIL AND POLITICIZED MARKETS If the argument for an imminent oil-production zenith—the thesis that a peak of worldwide petroleum output has recently occurred or is only a few years away—commands little sympathy or even acknowledgment in Washington, the reasons go beyond embarrassment and stubbornness. Keeping mum has a logic of sorts. Past-peak oil, if and when confirmed, will inevitably call to mind other U.S. past-peak possibilities, from currency preeminence to trading patterns and military alliances. Old alignments cannot be expected to continue as before. Thus the significance of the considerable rise in peak-oil discussion, given a new respectability by events between 2005 and 2008. The most important change in thinking came among upper-echelon executives of the U.S. international oil companies, all too mindful of stagnant global production, the minimal payback for their own expensive explorations, ballooning resource nationalism, and the deepening sway of state-owned petroleum companies.


pages: 415 words: 103,231

Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence by Robert Bryce

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Berlin Wall, Colonization of Mars, decarbonisation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, financial independence, flex fuel, hydrogen economy, Just-in-time delivery, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, price stability, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Yom Kippur War

In early 2007, energy companies from Japan, Italy, Brazil, Australia, Britain, France, and Canada were actively prospecting in the Gulf of Mexico.79 Statoil operates in 35 countries.80 If America really wants energy independence, why not tell all of those foreign companies to leave the Gulf of Mexico? And while the U.S. is telling those foreign companies to leave the Gulf, perhaps it should ask BP to leave as well. BP, Statoil, and all of the other energy companies on the planet are well aware of the concept of peak oil. But the fact that peak oil looms at some date in the future does not support any of the arguments for energy independence. Instead, it’s just the opposite. As peak oil gets closer, the world energy market will become even more tightly integrated as energy producers and energy consumers work to ensure adequate supplies. A final point about peak oil and energy availability: As world oil supplies grow tighter and demand continues to rise, prices will rise, and that will squeeze the demand coming from the poorer countries. Of course, it’s impossible to forecast just how high oil prices will rise after world oil production hits its peak.

Well, because the price of oil is set globally. American oil traders are not going to voluntarily sell their domestically produced crude in the U.S. if they can get a substantially higher price in, say, London or Rotterdam. Traders always seek the best price for their commodities. Thus, the U.S. cannot isolate itself from the rest of the global oil market. PEAK OIL Since September 11, 2001, Americans have seen a deluge of books, documentaries, and magazine articles about peak oil—the concept that the world’s oil producers have reached the limit of their ability to produce ever larger amounts of crude. Of those many reports, five deserve to be mentioned. 34 GUSHER OF LIES In 2001, just three weeks after September 11, Kenneth Deffeyes, a geologist from Princeton University, published Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage.

Even if governments and industries were to recognize the problems, it is too late to reverse the trend. Oil production is going to shrink.”51 After his book was published, Deffeyes got enormous amounts of attention from the media. He even was so bold as to predict the actual date when the world would hit peak oil production: Thanksgiving Day, 2005.52 Another book that falls roughly into this category is Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Petroleum Dependency, written by Michael Klare, a professor at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Published in 2004, Klare’s book does not address peak oil directly. Instead, it focuses on America’s militarization of the Middle East and claims that America’s thirst for oil and its reliance on foreign oil are “increasing the risk of turmoil and conflict” in the world’s oil-producing countries, locales that, he points out, are, in many cases, already unstable.53 Klare’s book offers an excellent primer on the ongoing militarization of the oil sector, from the Middle East to Colombia.

The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future by Michael Levi

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American energy revolution, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Carmen Reinhart, crony capitalism, deglobalization, energy security, Exxon Valdez, full employment, global supply chain, hiring and firing, hydraulic fracturing, Kenneth Rogoff, manufacturing employment, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea

Oil supplies appeared 180 • THE POWER SURGE to have hit a wall. The idea of peak oil—that world oil production had maxed out and was now headed downward—was hot. Then, just as prices peaked and plummeted beginning in the summer of 2008, the talk of peak oil largely disappeared. The pendulum swung toward the bears. Ed Morse, a top Wall Street energy analyst, wrote an essay for the journal Foreign Affairs titled “Low and Behold: Making the Most of Cheap Oil.” Peak oil, he and others triumphantly declared, had been proven wrong. Instead, with Saudi production climbing and prospects from Canada to Brazil on the rise—an incipient U.S. oil boom was still not on most people’s radars—the world was in for a new period of oil market ease. It was not the first time peak oil fears rose to prominence before being dashed. It was the fourth.2 The first episode unfolded in the early years of the twentieth century.

Hubbert himself WILD CARDS • 181 would turn out to be correct, at least regarding the next half century of U.S. production, but others would appropriate his analysis to make a much bolder claim: not only was U.S. oil output facing an impending peak but so was global output. By the early 1970s, armed with complex models and impenetrable mathematics, the peak oil prophets were predicting impending shortage of oil. Yet once again, when oil prices crashed in the early 1980s, their arguments were crushed too. Today, peak oil fears persist. Writing in the preeminent scientific journal Nature in early 2012, David King, previously the science advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, marshaled a wealth of trends and figures to assert that “oil’s tipping point has passed.”5 Others sound similar notes. But the definitive-sounding arguments for impending peak oil are invariably shaky. The fact that conventional oil production largely flatlined over the first decade of the twenty-first century, a frequent talking point, does not necessarily say anything fundamental about how much oil (or even how much cheap oil) is left in the ground.

Spurred by high prices, entrepreneurial spirits discovered and developed vast and easily accessible reserves of oil in Texas and Oklahoma; the United States would rest easy for a while. But peak oil fears returned two decades later in the wake of World War II. Military demand and pessimistic government audits of U.S. resources once again catalyzed fears of impending ruin. Yet surprise production gains, from California and the Rockies to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, quickly reversed the trend.4 Combined with the rise of the Middle East as a critical source of oil, fears were again put to rest. The next peak oil scare would arrive like clockwork a couple of decades later. This time, though, a patina of scientific logic accompanied it. In 1956, M. King Hubbert, a Shell Oil geologist, argued that oil field production should inevitably follow something called a “logistic” curve, rising gradually and then more rapidly, flattening off at a peak, and then falling continuously down the other side.


pages: 520 words: 129,887

Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce

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Bernie Madoff, carbon footprint, cleantech, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, flex fuel, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Indoor air pollution, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Menlo Park, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, uranium enrichment, Whole Earth Catalog

(The Megatrends Favoring Natural Gas and Nuclear) IN AUGUST 2009, Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, did something that has become almost commonplace: He predicted a date for peak oil. In an interview with the British newspaper, the Independent, Birol said that his agency now believes “peak oil will come perhaps by 2020.”1 Birol is one of dozens of prognosticators who have offered an opinion on the question of peak oil—the moment when the world reaches the limit of its ability to produce ever-increasing amounts of petroleum. Is Birol right? Maybe. We won’t know for certain until about 2020 whether his prediction was right or wrong. The importance of Birol’s prediction is not that he picked a date for peak oil; rather, it’s that he and so many other leading energy analysts are forecasting a peak. Indeed, when that peak is hit, it will be a milestone in our energy use—but it will not mean that we will quit using oil.

For comparison, the reserves-to-production ratio for natural gas is 60.4, meaning that at current extraction rates—and assuming no more gas is discovered—the world has more than 60 years of proved natural gas reserves left in the ground.55 And those numbers will undoubtedly grow in the years ahead as more gas resources get moved into the reserves category. The megatrend of increasing natural gas consumption and natural gas availability could scarcely be occurring at a better time. Over the past few years, worries about peak oil, and another possible peak—peak coal—have emerged as serious concerns. And that leads us to our next megatrend. Peak oil is one of the most emotional and hotly debated issues in the energy business. There is widespread disagreement about when the world will hit peak production. For instance, former Princeton University geology professor Kenneth Deffeyes claims the peak was hit on Thanksgiving Day, 2005.56 Veteran Houston-based energy analyst Henry Groppe says it occurred in 2006, and that the increases in production since then are due to production of natural gas liquids, not of crude.57 Houston stock analyst Marshall Adkins, of the brokerage firm Raymond James, contends the peak was hit in 2008.58 Other energy watchers claim that the global economic downturn has delayed any discussion about peak oil for the time being, perhaps until 2020 or so.59 What will reaching peak oil mean?

For instance, former Princeton University geology professor Kenneth Deffeyes claims the peak was hit on Thanksgiving Day, 2005.56 Veteran Houston-based energy analyst Henry Groppe says it occurred in 2006, and that the increases in production since then are due to production of natural gas liquids, not of crude.57 Houston stock analyst Marshall Adkins, of the brokerage firm Raymond James, contends the peak was hit in 2008.58 Other energy watchers claim that the global economic downturn has delayed any discussion about peak oil for the time being, perhaps until 2020 or so.59 What will reaching peak oil mean? Well, it will almost certainly mean higher prices. But how much higher? Groppe, the dean of the Houston energy analysts, with more than five decades of experience in the sector, provides a succinct prediction: “The price of oil will have to be whatever is required to cause total consumption to decline.”60 Put another way, oil prices will rise to whatever level is needed in order to make alternative energy sources more economic and thereby cut demand for oil products.


pages: 397 words: 112,034

What's Next?: Unconventional Wisdom on the Future of the World Economy by David Hale, Lyric Hughes Hale

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, diversification, energy security, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global village, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, index fund, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Just-in-time delivery, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, passive investing, payday loans, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Tobin tax, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, yield curve

We shall begin with the move toward a post-oil economy that some think could be imposed by geological limits—“peak oil” and the assumed twilight in the desert1—or by concerns for climate change. We shall then turn our attention to the energy investment scene and its implications for spare production capacity, and conclude with an examination of the short-term determinants of energy prices, including investment in “paper barrels.” Peaks on the Horizon: Wall or Mirage? Is “peak oil” a reality that should inform today’s investment decisions and prices, as the three-digit oil prices of mid-2008 seemed to suggest, or is the depletion of oil reserves a mirage that is likely to remain, for many years, a couple of decades away as it has been in the past? Peak oil scenarios could materialize as a result of two very different causes. Under the most extreme scenario, as popularized by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil,2 the world may be on the verge of running out of the reserves needed to prevent oil production from declining—or at best from plateauing for a while before collapsing.

Peak oil scenarios could materialize as a result of two very different causes. Under the most extreme scenario, as popularized by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil,2 the world may be on the verge of running out of the reserves needed to prevent oil production from declining—or at best from plateauing for a while before collapsing. Alternatively, in a softer version of peak oil, a large share of “oil in place” may not be accessible due to “aboveground” geopolitical constraints.3 On both accounts, the recent period has provided important information on the plausibility of both types of causes. The year 2009 may be remembered in the history of the oil industry as the period during which the stronger, geology-defined peak oil scenario lost its recently acquired cachet. Oil reserves are now growing after two decades of decline, and a whole new class of gas reservoirs is adding a massive amount of recoverable reserves to those that are already known.

In any case, while the IEA was among many that expressed doubts on Iraq’s capacity to reach these targets in its November 2010 World Energy Outlook, Iraqis as well as Saudis seem to concur that some serious discussions between the two countries regarding the division of labor and the production quotas will be hard to avoid after Iraqi production goes over 4 or 5 mb/d. Climate Negotiations and the Move to a Lower-Carbon Energy Mix With peak oil concerns alleviated until at least 2020 (subject to the quadrupling of Iraqi oil production, and therefore to peace in the Iraqi Shiite region), the other long-term consideration for the global supply-demand balance is about the implications of the transition to a low-carbon energy economy. For a brief period, considerations of energy security, peak oil, and climate security converged to make the transition to a new energy mix appear inevitable. As we have seen when assessing peak oil realities, 2009 spelled the end of this convergence, depriving climate negotiators of the broad-based consensus that this convergence could have fostered.


pages: 417 words: 109,367

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century by Ronald Bailey

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Cass Sunstein, Climatic Research Unit, Commodity Super-Cycle, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, double helix, energy security, failed state, financial independence, Gary Taubes, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, invisible hand, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, price stability, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Stewart Brand, Tesla Model S, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce, yield curve

In September 2005 Simmons announced that “we could be looking at $10-a-gallon gas this winter.” The price of gasoline in December 2005 was about $2.25 per gallon. In a 2005 bet consciously modeled on the Simon-Ehrlich bet, New York Times columnist John Tierney and peak oil proponent Matthew Simmons wagered $5,000 on whether the price of oil in 2010 would average above $200 per barrel. When the bet was made, the price was $65 per barrel. When the bet was settled on January 1, 2011, the price of oil had increased to a 2010 average of $71 per barrel. Colin Campbell, a former petroleum geologist who founded the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, had warned way back in 2002 that we were headed for peak oil production, and that this would lead to “war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens.” In his 2004 book Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil, the Caltech physicist David Goodstein wrote that the peak of world production was imminent and that “we can, all too easily, envision a dying civilization, the landscape littered with the rusting hulks of SUVs.”

In 1969, Hubbert predicted that world oil production would peak around 2000. Hubbert’s Peak Hubbert argued that oil production grows until half the recoverable resources in a field have been extracted, after which production falls off at essentially the same rate at which it expanded. This theory suggests a bell-shaped curve rising from first discovery to peak and descending to depletion. Hubbert calculated that peak oil production follows peak oil discovery with a time lag. Globally, discoveries of new oil fields peaked in 1962. The time lag between peak global discoveries and peak production was estimated to be around thirty-two years, but peak oilers claim that the two oil crises of the 1970s reduced consumption and thereby delayed the peak until now. Hubbert’s modern disciples argue that humanity has now used up half of the world’s ultimately recoverable reserves of oil, which means we are at or over the peak.

As the IEA 2013 report succinctly notes, “Fossil fuels are abundant in many regions of the world and they are in sufficient quantities to meet expected increasing demands.” The fundamental error made by the peak oil disciples of Hubbert is now clear; they substantially underestimated the actual amount of petroleum reserves and resources and the oil industry’s ever-increasing technological prowess to exploit them. The notion that once half of the oil in a field has been produced, the only direction is down seems intuitively obvious. And oil is, after all, an exhaustible resource of which there is only so much. Peak oil theorists ominously point out that since the 1980s the volume of new discoveries has been smaller than the amount of oil extracted. Yet, oil reserves have continued to grow. How could this be?


pages: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, deglobalization, energy security, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, flex fuel, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Hans Island, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, illegal immigration, income per capita, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, McMansion, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, Yom Kippur War

But the minute the economy recovers, so too does demand, giving rise to the very same price hikes that trigger another recession. How does this ride end? PEAK OIL IS REALLY ABOUT PRICES, NOT SUPPLY When oil prices start to climb, the peak-oil debate inevitably moves back into the spotlight. In brief, the idea of peak oil holds that geological limits to the amount of oil that can be tapped means global oil production will eventually top out and then embark on an irreversible decline. It’s a contentious topic. The message that oil’s days are numbered is clearly not something the energy industry wants to hear. At the same time, the shrill tone taken by some peak-oil proponents, who see a coming oil crisis unleashing a doomsday scenario on us all, doesn’t do their position any favors with the rest of the energy world.

I’ll leave the geological argument to the geologists and petroleum engineers, where it belongs. What’s important here is the link between oil prices and economic growth. Focusing on this relationship casts the debate in a very different light. Like Mayan predictions for the end of days, predictions for peak oil come and go with some regularity. To the great consternation of peak-oil proponents, the oil industry continues to confound projections by getting better at pulling oil out of the ground. Better technology has kept the oil industry a step ahead of the best estimates of the peak-oil geologists. That’s a familiar story for the peak-oil movement, which got its start after an American geophysicist, M. King Hubbert, predicted in 1956 that conventional oil production in the lower forty-eight states would peak by the early 1970s. Hubbert was right, but subsequent projections have been derailed by the development of new sources of supply in Alaska and under the Gulf of Mexico.

As new sources of oil are discovered, and the definition of what counts as oil has expanded to include new sources of supply such as bitumen from the tar sands, the peak crowd has been forced to roll back predictions for the dreaded peak to points further in the future. A popular view now held by many peak-oil advocates sees oil production reaching an undulating plateau, sparing the world from the sharp drop-off in production foreseen in earlier predictions. It’s easy to get caught up in the semantics of the peak-oil debate. Just what is oil? Are new sources of supply really producing effective substitutes for the conventional oil we’re losing to depletion? But the issue that should be at the forefront of peak-oil discussions isn’t physical supply but economic cost. World supply may continue to defy peak-oil predictions, but that’s just a geological sideshow. What matters to the economy is the price it takes to get new supply flowing. It’s not enough for the global energy industry simply to find new caches of oil; the crude they find must be affordable.


pages: 306 words: 85,836

When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs

As he notes, high prices lead people to develop substitutes. Which is exactly why we don’t need to panic over peak oil in the first place. So why do I compare peak oil to shark attacks? It is because shark attacks mostly stay about constant, but fear of them goes up sharply when the media decides to report on them. The same thing, I bet, will now happen with peak oil. I expect tons of copycat journalism stoking the fears of consumers about oil-induced catastrophe, even though nothing fundamental has changed in the oil outlook in the last decade. Betting on Peak Oil (SDL) John Tierney wrote a great New York Times column in response to Peter Maass’s Times article about peak oil that I criticized. Tierney and the energy banker Matthew Simmons, who is the point man for the peak-oil team, made a $5,000 bet as to whether the price of oil in 2010 would be above or below $200 a barrel (adjusted for inflation to be in 2005 dollars).

One thing is for sure: if I ever see a passenger pull an umbrella out of her carry-on bag while a flight is airborne, I will tackle her first and ask questions later! “Peak Oil”: Welcome to the Media’s New Version of Shark Attacks (SDL) This post was published on August 21, 2005. It would have been difficult to find anyone then willing to predict that ten years hence, technological advances in petroleum extraction would allow the U.S. to overtake Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil producer in the world. But that is exactly what happened. A recent New York Times Magazine cover story, by Peter Maass, is about “peak oil.” The idea behind peak oil is that the world has been on a path of increasing oil production for many years, and now we are about to peak and go into a situation where there are dwindling reserves, leading to triple-digit prices for a barrel of oil, an unparalleled worldwide depression, and as one oil-crash website puts it, “Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon.”

. / 103 “My research on child safety seats”: See Levitt and Dubner, SuperFreakonomics (William Morrow, 2009); and Dubner and Levitt, “The Seat-Belt Solution,” The New York Times Magazine, July 10, 2005. / 103 “When I first told him about my work on teacher cheating”: See Levitt and Dubner, Freakonomics (William Morrow, 2005). 109 “‘PEAK OIL’”: “A recent . . . cover story”: See Peter Maass, “The Breaking Point,” The New York Times Magazine, August 21, 2005. 114 “BETTING ON PEAK OIL”: “John Tierney wrote a great . . . column”: See Tierney, “The $10,000 Question,” The New York Times, August 23, 2005. / 116 “Sadly, Matthew Simmons died”: See Tierney, “Economic Optimism? Yes, I’ll Take That Bet,” The New York Times, December 27, 2010. 116 “DOES OBESITY KILL?”: “An interesting paper”: See Shin-Yi Chou, Michael Grossman, and Henry Saffer, “An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,” NBER working paper No. 9247, October 2002. / 117 “a paper calling into doubt”: See Jonathan Gruber and Michael Frakes, “Does Falling Smoking Lead to Rising Obesity?


pages: 222 words: 50,318

The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream by Christopher B. Leinberger

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, big-box store, centre right, credit crunch, David Brooks, desegregation, Donald Trump, drive until you qualify, edge city, full employment, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, postindustrial economy, RAND corporation, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Seaside, Florida, the built environment, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight

The future higher price for imported oil will put an even greater strain on the U.S. economy, compounding the continued balance of trade deficits, which are running at historically high levels (more than six percent of the gross domestic product) during the 2000s.57 The value of residential and commercial real estate that can be reached only by cars will certainly be significantly devalued when peak oil is reached, whenever that may be. The dollar will probably fall in value, making imported goods much more expensive, and the dollar 82 | THE OPTION OF URBANISM may lose its status as the world’s reserve currency. Some forecasters have suggested that peak oil, if it occurs without alternative energy sources under development, could trigger a global depression similar to the 1930s. The U.S. economy will have painted itself into a corner if peak oil arrives and the only option is drivable sub-urban development. James Kunstler, the author of The Long Emergency,58 painted a bleak picture of the United States’ future due to a “prodigious, unparalleled misallocation of resources” for drivable sub-urban development, which he forecasted will result in the collapse of the U.S. economy to a medieval level of output.

James Kunstler, the author of The Long Emergency,58 painted a bleak picture of the United States’ future due to a “prodigious, unparalleled misallocation of resources” for drivable sub-urban development, which he forecasted will result in the collapse of the U.S. economy to a medieval level of output. Although Kunstler’s is doubtless an extreme and overly pessimistic view, the trauma caused to the U.S. drivable sub-urban economy when peak oil is reached, particularly if this realization happens suddenly, which many forecasters predict is possible if not probable, would be severe. There is one conclusion on which nearly all oil production forecasters, including most of the major oil companies, agree: it is not a matter of whether peak oil production arrives, it is only a matter of when, and the majority of forecasters feel that the peak will occur in the first third of the twenty-first century.59 F O R E I G N P O L I C Y. As has been understood clearly only in the post– September 11th world, a significant unintended consequence of the drivable sub-urbanism domestic policy is its impact on foreign policy and the overarching need to maintain access to oil abroad.

American Society of Civil Engineers, “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005/. 54. Congressional Research Service, Report for Congress, “Energy: Selected Facts and Numbers,” November 29, 2006, http://ncseonline.org/NLE/ CRSreports/06Dec/RL31849.pdf. 55. Testimony of Congressman Roscoe Bartlett before Congress on February 8, 2006, http://www.peakoil.net/Publications/PeakOilSpclOrder%2 315TextCharts020806Low.pdf. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, “Understanding the Peak Oil Theory,” 109th Cong., 1st sess., 2005, http://www.access.gpo. gov/congress/index.html. 56. Robert L. Hirsch, Roger Bezdek, and Robert Wendling, “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management,” 321Energy, March, 2005, http://www.321energy.com/editorials/hirsch/ hirsch031705.html. 57. “Survey of the World Economy,” The Economist, September 14, 2006, http:// www.economist.com/surveys/displayStory.cfm?


pages: 289 words: 77,532

The Secret Club That Runs the World: Inside the Fraternity of Commodity Traders by Kate Kelly

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Bakken shale, bank run, Credit Default Swap, diversification, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, index fund, locking in a profit, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, paper trading, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, supply-chain management, the market place

In China, the most severe winter weather in fifty years had damaged power sources throughout the country, and poor government planning in South Africa had spurred power outages that affected the entire continental region. Amid all the demand and lack of supply, there was also an overarching fear of “Peak Oil,” a 1950s theory now experiencing a renaissance, which held that the availability of global oil was soon to be maxed out, after which global supplies would be on an ever-diminishing decline. Believers in Peak Oil felt that crude oil was certain to grow more expensive. The Peak Oil theory had some weaknesses, given the promising advancements in drilling that were being made in such hard-to-reach areas as deep ocean water in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Circle. If the technology to tap those reserves could be harnessed, there would be plenty of crude oil yet.

“supercycle”: Bilge Ertan and Jose Antonio Ocampo, “Super-cycles of Commodity Prices Since the Mid-19th Century” (working paper, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, 2012), http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2012/wp110_2012.pdf. “Peak Oil”: The term refers to a theory, first put forth in 1956 by scientist M. King Hubbert, which argued that oil production in the U.S. would reach its highest point in the latter half of the twentieth century and would decline thereafter. In the 2000s, the concept of Peak Oil took on new meaning, defining a generalized fear of running out of oil, and the global consequences that would bring. See M. King Hubbert, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels (Shell Development Company Exploration and Production Research Division, 1956), http://www.hubbertpeak.com/hubbert/1956/1956.pdf. For a succinct discussion of how “Peak Oil” played in the public’s mind in the 2000s, see Daniel Yergin, “There Will Be Oil,” Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424053111904060604576572552998674340.1.

Until 2008, there were plenty of reasons to like commodities, most important of which was the torrid pace of demand in India and China. Those economies, which were driving up the price of raw materials around the world, were widely seen as the harbingers of what the buzzier banking analysts referred to as a new “supercycle,” a period of sustained world growth the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. There was also a prevalent theory known as “Peak Oil” suggesting that the world’s petroleum supplies were well on their way to being tapped out—a situation that would make crude oil, the engine of so many economies, frighteningly scarce. Both hypotheses augured a continuing climb in the price of oil. But during the second half of 2008, the belief in higher commodity prices vanished. Like stocks and bonds, commodities were roiled by the financial crisis in the U.S.


pages: 443 words: 112,800

The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World by Jeremy Rifkin

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, borderless world, carbon footprint, centre right, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate governance, decarbonisation, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, global supply chain, hydrogen economy, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, knowledge economy, manufacturing employment, marginal employment, Martin Wolf, Masdar, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open borders, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, supply-chain management, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, urban planning, urban renewal, Yom Kippur War, Zipcar

I am suggesting that we are currently in the endgame of the Second Industrial Revolution and the oil era upon which it is based. This is a hard reality to accept because it would force the human family to quickly transition to a wholly new energy regime and a new industrial model, or risk the collapse of civilization. The reason we have hit the wall in terms of globalization is “global peak oil per capita,” which is not to be confused with “global peak oil production.” The latter is a term used among petro-geologists to denote the point when global oil production reaches its zenith on what is called the Hubbert bell curve. Peak oil production occurs when half of the ultimately recoverable oil reserves are used up. The top of the curve represents the midpoint in oil recovery. After that, production drops as fast as it climbed. M. King Hubbert was a geophysicist who worked for the Shell Oil Company back in 1956.

His prediction, however, turned out to be correct. US oil production peaked in 1970 and began its long decline.8 For the past four decades, geologists have been arguing about when global peak oil production will most likely occur. The optimists believed, based on their modeling, that it would probably happen sometime between 2025 and 2035. The pessimists, which included some of the leading geologists in the world, projected global peak oil to occur between 2010 and 2020. The International Energy Agency (IEA), a Paris-based organization that governments rely on for their energy information and forecasts, may have put the issue of global peak oil production to rest in its 2010 World Energy Outlook report. According to the IEA, global peak production of crude oil probably occurred in 2006 at seventy million barrels per day.9 The admission stunned the international oil community and sent shudders down the spine of global businesses whose life line is crude oil.

In terms of thermodynamic efficiency, then, productivity is as much a measure of entropy produced per unit of output as speed per unit of output. For most of the twentieth century, the price of oil was so low that little attention was given to thermodynamic efficiency in the production and distribution of goods and services. And before scientists understood the relationship between burning carbon fuels and global warming, there was little concern about entropic flow. This has now changed. Peak oil per capita and global peak oil production have been reached, forcing a dramatic rise in the price of energy. At the same time, the accumulated entropic emission of industrial-based CO2 into the atmosphere has altered the temperature of the planet and put the world into real-time climate change, with dramatic effects on agriculture and infrastructure. The simple but profoundly disturbing reality is that fossil fuels and rare earths are fast depleting and the entropic debt from past economic activity is mounting at a rate that far exceeds the biosphere’s ability to absorb it.


pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay

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3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Yogi Berra

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins made his comments about whales during his talk at TED in February 2005 about his cowritten book Winning the Oil Endgame. Once a fringe topic, peak oil is now the subject of intense mainstream discussion. Perhaps the most searingly honest look at life after peak oil is James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, which imagines America’s future as a sort of Antebellum Dark Ages. Two books arguing that peak oil will be good for us are Christopher Steiner’s $20 Per Gallon and Jeff Rubin’s Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller. Online, “The Oil Drum” (www.theoildrum.com/) offers daily discussion and dissection of oil prices and production; the website of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) is also worth visiting at (www.peakoil.net). How permanent triple-digit oil prices could affect aviation was best described in Bradford Plumer’s “The End of Aviation” (The New Republic, August 27, 2008).

Peak whale ended when whalers “ran out of customers before they ran out of whales,” quipped the environmentalist Amory Lovins, who was charting paths to a renewable future before Jimmy Carter wore cardigans in the White House. So how will peak oil end? The Reckoning: Peak Oil You couldn’t ask for a more ominous example of the Jevons Paradox circa 2020 than the prospect of a hundred million tourists and traders transiting the Gulf on the New Silk Road. Anyone paying close attention to oil prices and carbon footprints might reasonably conclude that a Middle East remade in Dubai’s image is a looming catastrophe. There is a growing consensus among activists, energy analysts, and fliers alike that aviation is unsustainable at its current pace, ethically and economically. Their reasons for feeling this way can be narrowed to a pair of culprits—peak oil and climate change—entwined in a single, suicidal braid. We are running out of cheap, plentiful oil, this argument goes, because we are burning more of it every day, releasing greenhouse gases in the process.

Air travel’s complicity in peak oil and climate change evokes the food miles argument writ large: moving people and goods halfway around the world when they could be made or grown or live closer to home is ethically indefensible. And it depends on a fuel we happen to be running out of, with no substitutes ready to take its place. One way or another, proponents believe, tomorrow’s flights should and will be canceled. We may choose to fly—or not to—but from a carbon perspective, the obvious choice is not necessarily the most meaningful one, or the most destructive. Remember the sun-drenched Kenyan roses and their hothouse-bred Dutch cousins—computing carbon’s bottom line requires calculus, not simple addition. Calculating peak oil requires different equations. When we talk about peak oil, we’re really talking about two things.


pages: 369 words: 94,588

The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce

The fact that capitalism has, in the past, successfully navigated around natural barriers, and that it has often done so profitably since environmental technologies have long been big business and can certainly become much bigger (as the Obama administration proposes), does not mean that the nature question can never constitute some ultimate limit. But in terms of the immediate crisis of our time that began in 2006, the question of natural limits cannot, on the surface at least, be accorded primacy of place, with the possible exception of the role of so-called ‘peak oil’ and its impact on energy prices. The issue of peak oil requires, therefore, some commentary. As background it is worth noting that what began to appear as the greatest of all potential natural limits to capitalist development in eighteenth-century Britain was neatly transcended by the turn to fossil fuels and the invention of the steam engine. Before that time the land had to be used for both food and energy production (from biomass) and it became increasingly clear that it could not be used for both at a compound rate of growth given the transport capacities of the time.

This was all backed by increasing evidence (and plenty of rhetoric) that the ‘peak oil’ formula that Hubbert had applied to the US could usefully be applied to predict global oil supplies. Since global rates of discovery peaked, according to the data, in the mid-1980s, then it could widely be anticipated that oil production would itself peak no later than around 2010. Several oil-producing countries other than the US have roughly conformed to Hubbert’s peak formula, including Kuwait, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Norway and Mexico. While the situation elsewhere, particularly in Saudi Arabia (where there are rumours that peak production has already been achieved), the Middle East generally, Russia (where President Putin recently declared, though almost certainly for political rather than factual reasons, that peak oil has been passed) and Africa, is harder to monitor, the rise in oil prices from less than $20 a barrel in 2002 to $150 a barrel (and a doubling of gas prices at the pump for US consumers) by the summer of 2008 provided all the popular evidence needed to show that peak oil had arrived and was here to stay.

While the situation elsewhere, particularly in Saudi Arabia (where there are rumours that peak production has already been achieved), the Middle East generally, Russia (where President Putin recently declared, though almost certainly for political rather than factual reasons, that peak oil has been passed) and Africa, is harder to monitor, the rise in oil prices from less than $20 a barrel in 2002 to $150 a barrel (and a doubling of gas prices at the pump for US consumers) by the summer of 2008 provided all the popular evidence needed to show that peak oil had arrived and was here to stay. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view, oil prices suddenly plunged to less than $50 a barrel by the end of 2008, putting a big popular question mark over the relevance of the theory and opening the path towards central bank relaxation of fears over an oil-price rise led inflation and a consequent reduction of interest rates to close to zero in the United States at the end of 2008. Since oil at $50 a barrel is often cited as the break point above which ethanol becomes profitable, the vast investment in nearly doubling the number of ethanol plants in the US since 2006 may now be in jeopardy. How and why the scarcity supposedly given by nature and represented so neatly by the formula of peak oil can be so volatile in the market place requires some explanation.


pages: 554 words: 168,114

Oil: Money, Politics, and Power in the 21st Century by Tom Bower

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Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, bonus culture, corporate governance, credit crunch, energy security, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, fear of failure, forensic accounting, index fund, interest rate swap, kremlinology, LNG terminal, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, new economy, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, passive investing, peak oil, Piper Alpha, price mechanism, price stability, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, transaction costs, transfer pricing, éminence grise

Hall was impressed by that accuracy, and by a wave of other predictions, based upon Hubbert’s assessment, published under the umbrella of the “peak oil theory.” Like-minded petroleum experts and environmentalists grasped at peak oil to support their campaign against the excessive use of fossil fuel, and in particular against what President George W. Bush would call America’s “addiction to oil.” Emboldened by his new fame, Hubbert had predicted in the early 1970s that production in the North Sea would peak in 1985 at 2.5 million barrels a day, and global crude production would peak in 2000 at 12.5 billion barrels a year. Neither Hall nor other “oil peakists” would be disillusioned when Hubbert proved mistaken. In 2000, the North Sea was still producing over two million barrels a day, and in 2007 global crude production reached 31 billion barrels. Like religious fundamentalists, orthodox peak oil theorists, alias “potheads” or “oil peakists,” preferred to ignore any evidence that contradicted their beliefs.

Annual production in 2021, predicted the EIA, would be between 48.5 billion and 78 billion barrels. Caruso’s forecast depended on the national oil producers expanding production; his optimism was shared by Peter Davies, BP’s chief economist. Pessimism in the industry, said Davies, an authoritative spokesman against peak oil, stemmed from weak demand causing less oil to be produced. Scientifically, he felt, there was no proof that the world was approaching “peak production.” Caruso’s and Davies’s optimism was rejected by Peter Wells, a former BP engineer and peak oil believer, as “highly unlikely.” While OPEC producers, Wells argued, had failed to invest, and their spare capacity had fallen from 10 million barrels a day in 1987 to 1.5 million in 2004, the non-OPEC producers had also failed to replace depleted reserves. The result, he predicted, would be an oil-supply crisis that “can be expected to be acute after 2005,” causing actual shortages in 2007.

Now, said Campbell, no one admitted the probability of a global recession if oil remained above $100 a barrel. Campbell’s credibility had been reinforced over the previous 18 months by the conversion of some senior oil executives to the oil peakists’ camp. Leading that group were the senior executives of Total. French mathematical geologists had become adamant adherents of peak oil. With the state providing generous subsidies for biofuels, the country’s oil executives, tainted by suggestions of chicanery, understood the financial advantages of embracing peak oil. Thierry Desmarest, Total’s chairman, had said in 2006, “The opinion of our geologists is we can go a bit beyond 100 million but not to 120 million.” One year later, he sharply retreated. Oil production, he forecast, would peak in 2020: “This is the great secret everyone knows about and governments are too terrified to discuss because they don’t know what to do and oil companies don’t want to frighten their shareholders.”


pages: 258 words: 83,303

Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin

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air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, BRICs, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, energy security, food miles, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Just-in-time delivery, market clearing, megacity, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, profit maximization, reserve currency, South Sea Bubble, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization

The resulting curve—called the Hubbert curve, after the American geophysicist M. King Hubbert, who seems to have been the first person to figure out that there is only so much oil in the ground—gives us a pretty good visual impression of what we can expect from a finite resource: a peak, followed by a decline. In 2002, Campbell first helped convene a loosely connected organization called the Association for the Study of Peak Oil to take an objective look at world oil supply. Pooling the experience of lifetimes in the field, the group of largely retired senior geologists who had explored the world for Shell, BP, Total, and all the other big majors built a massive database that tracked the depletion of every major producing oil field in the world. And when they added it all up, the composite picture that emerged about the growth of world oil supply was very different from the one their former employers were conveying.

My oil price forecast and its underlying supply projections were greeted with widespread amusement if not outright derision. But as it turned out, Hubbert was right. American production peaked at just shy of 10 million barrels per day in 1971. It has fallen steadily since then. Today it is barely half that amount, at 5.1 million barrels. Tomorrow it will be even less. And I was right too. One thing I’ve learned from years of being on the opposite side of the peak oil debate from just about everyone else is that it is pretty much impossible to convince anyone of something they just don’t want to believe. Campbell’s forecast of a production peak was of course dismissed by the industry just as Hubbert’s initial projections of a production peak were ignored decades earlier. Anyone who was willing to warn of pending supply shortages at a time of cheap and seemingly plentiful oil supply was ridiculed by the oil industry and consequently ignored by most of the media.

And instead of new supply gushing out of the ground, supply growth has basically stopped dead in its track in the face of no less than a fivefold increase in the price of crude. Despite every incentive to pump more, despite calls for OPEC to open the spigots and President Bush’s personal pleas to the Saudis, world production has hardly grown at all since 2005. Suddenly the textbooks seem to be describing some other world than the one we live in. It is hard to say which possibility is more alarming to economists—that the world has reached its peak oil production plateau, or that the rules of their vocation don’t seem to be working any more. It is funny how a recession looks like good news to some people. When global credit evaporated in the wake of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, oil prices tumbled along with the values of the world’s stock markets. Seemingly overnight the price of a barrel of oil plunged from an all-time high of $147 to as low as the high $30s.


pages: 326 words: 48,727

Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard

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Berlin Wall, business continuity plan, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, food miles, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, peak oil, Port of Oakland, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, the built environment, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transit-oriented development, University of East Anglia, urban planning

Global warming is not the only reason our civilization must shift to low-carbon energy sources: there is also the threat of "peak oil." As recently as five years ago, the theory of peak oil—which holds that humanity has already consumed half of the oil on the planet—was derided as nonsense from the fringe. No longer. As stalwart a member of the energy establishment as James Schlesinger, a former director of the CIA and secretary of the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, said in 2007, "The debate is over—the peakists have won." There is still lots of oil to be had on this planet, but it "will get harder and costlier to find," Ronald Oxburgh, the former chairman of the British arm of Royal Dutch Shell oil, told me. (Peak oil is one reason BP was drilling so deeply in the Gulf of Mexico in the first place.) Meanwhile, global demand for petroleum continues to climb.

If and when global demand outstrips supply, analysts warn, the imbalance could bring debilitating shortages, soaring prices, crashing economies, resource wars, and social breakdown. The car-dependent lifestyle that millions of Americans (and growing numbers elsewhere) take for granted will become impossible. Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, is another insider worried by the approach of peak oil. "We should leave oil before it leaves us," Birol wrote in 2008. Make no mistake: going green at the speed and scale needed to defuse global warming and escape peak oil will not be easy. We will have to abandon old ways of thinking, confront powerful interests, spend large amounts of money, adjust our material appetites, and stay focused on the mission for many years to come. But there are unsung heroes all over the world who are already working to make these changes a reality; you will meet some of them in this book.

Leave aside for the moment the fact that this assumption ignores the plight of the world's poor, who amount to roughly half the people on earth. My research for this book has convinced me that even wealthy, technologically advanced societies will find it enormously challenging to defend themselves. The climate impacts that are already in place are so large, pervasive, and interlocking that they will tax our adaptive capacity to the maximum, especially because we will be confronting them at the very time we are grappling with peak oil and global economic disorder, not to mention the necessity of reversing global warming before its impacts increase from the "merely" g rave to the outright apocalyptic. Over the next fifty years, climate change will transform our world in ways we have only begun to imagine. Humans have changed the weather on this planet, and that will change everything: from how we grow food and obtain water to how we construct buildings and fight disease; from how we organize economies and control borders to how we manage transportation systems and deploy armies; from how we write insurance and produce wine to how we talk with our children and plan for the future.


pages: 483 words: 143,123

The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters by Gregory Zuckerman

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American energy revolution, Asian financial crisis, Bakken shale, Bernie Sanders, Buckminster Fuller, corporate governance, credit crunch, energy security, Exxon Valdez, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, LNG terminal, margin call, Maui Hawaii, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, reshoring, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, urban decay

Fialka, “Wildcat Producer Sparks Oil Boom on Montana Plains,” Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2006. 14. Luisa Kroll, “Harold Hamm on Diabetes,” Forbes, October 11, 2010. 15. Joshua Schneyer, Brian Grow, and Jeanine Prezioso, “Special Report: Lack of a Prenup Imperils Oil Billionaire’s Fortune,” Reuters, June 14, 2013. 16. Colin Campbell, ed., Peak Oil Personalities: A Unique Insight into a Major Crisis Facing Mankind (Skibbereen, Ireland: Inspire Books, 2012). CHAPTER TEN 1. Asjylyn Loder, “McClendon Eating Healthy No Help in Bet Undermining Chesapeake,” Bloomberg News, June 27, 2012. 2. Colin Campbell, ed. Peak Oil Personalities: A Unique Insight into a Major Crisis Facing Mankind (Skibbereen, Ireland: Inspire Books, 2012). 3. Steve Toon, “The Dash for Cash,” A&D Watch, February 2008. 4. Jerry Shottenkirk, “Hard Work, Luck Make Billions for Oklahoma Executive,” Journal Record, August 13, 2007. 5.

In late spring of 2008, McClendon became a multibillionaire, as shares of his new energy power, Chesapeake Energy, soared. He also helped bring a pro basketball team to Oklahoma City, electrifying the state. Later, when McClendon sat courtside at games with his relative, Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Kate Upton, the jealousy and buzz grew. Hamm owned his own front-row seat close by. Few noticed him, though. Talk in the energy patch, in Washington, and on Wall Street in early 2008 was of “peak oil,” a popular and vaguely Malthusian notion that the growth of global energy supplies had reached its limit, a dreaded shift sure to lead to rising prices and global economic strains. McClendon’s company was among the few still making huge new discoveries by focusing its drilling on shale, a dense rock long ignored by oil giants. In March 2008, McClendon hosted a dinner at New York’s swanky ‘21’ Club for a group of Wall Street billionaires and others hoping to understand the new energy world.

Hubbert, who earlier in his career was active in a movement that pushed for democracy to be disbanded, allowing scientists and engineers to take the reins of government, had predicted that oil production would peak in the United States by the early 1970s and global oil production would level out around 2006. “It’s quite a simple theory and one that any beer drinker understands,” explained prominent British petroleum engineer Colin Campbell, a Berlin native and a fan of Hubbert’s theory. “The glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it’s gone.”16 For years, Hubbert’s argument, a Malthusian notion that became known as the peak oil theory, was dismissed by the energy establishment. But when U.S. oil production did peak in 1970 and an energy crisis ensued, some began to suspect that Hubbert might have been on to something. By the time Greenspan issued his own warning, a consensus was emerging that the heyday of oil and gas production was over. Greenspan had a solution, though. The United States needed to become a major importer of liquefied natural gas, he told Congress.


pages: 273 words: 93,419

Let them eat junk: how capitalism creates hunger and obesity by Robert Albritton

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Bretton Woods, California gold rush, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate personhood, deindustrialization, Food sovereignty, Haber-Bosch Process, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, land reform, late capitalism, means of production, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, South Sea Bubble, the built environment, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile

Even so radical an innovation as transgenic organisms was rushed into use without adequate testing for their possible dramatically damaging and irreversible consequences, largely because corporations had invested so much in developing them that they could not afford a long delay in profiting from their use, and because these same corporations have enormous influence in government circles.5 A central problem with our current food system is its dependence on petroleum at a time when the price of petroleum will continue to climb because of dwindling supplies relative to demand, and at a time when burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming. Breaking the food system’s addiction to petroleum is both necessary and difficult. PEAK OIL AND BIOFUELS Over the past 40 years the US consumption of fossil fuel has increased 20-fold.6 Given the extent to which the US economy, 148 L E T T H E M E AT J U N K including agriculture and food, is tied to petrochemicals, and the likelihood that passing the “peak oil” point globally will lead to large and permanent price increases of petrochemicals, without radical changes, the prospects for the US economy are bleak. In the 1940s for every barrel of oil spent searching for oil, 100 barrels of oil were produced, and now for every barrel of oil spent, we get only 10 barrels.7 As we reach the point of “peak oil”, it takes almost as much oil to expand the supply as is gained by the new supply. For example, the ecological damage involved in retrieving oil from the Alberta oil sands, and the amount of energy it takes to produce a single barrel of oil from the tar sands, raise serious doubts about the desirability and viability of the entire project.8 The Canadian oil sands are enriching many people at immense long-term environmental costs.

The paper may contain up to 70% post consumer waste. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Designed and produced for Pluto Press by Curran Publishing Services, Norwich Printed and bound in the European Union by CPI Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham and Eastbourne, England Contents Preface viii Part I Introduction 1 1 Introduction General introduction A framework for understanding capitalism Part II Understanding Capitalism 2 3 The Management of Agriculture and Food by Capital’s Deep Structures Capital’s profit orientation Capital, time and speed Capital, space and homogenization Capital and workers Capital and underconsumption Capital, oligopoly and globalization Capital and subjectivity Conclusions The Phase of Consumerism and the US Roots of the Current Agriculture and Food Regimes Consumerism’s profit orientation: petroleum, cars, suburbs and television Consumerism, time, and speed: unchecked toxicity and life on the run Consumerism, space and homogenization: suburbanization and monocultures [ v ] 2 3 10 17 18 26 30 33 37 41 43 46 49 51 56 61 64 vi CONTENTS Consumerism and workers: hiding the health costs of hazardous working conditions and low wages Consumerism and underconsumption: new forms of debt expansion and advertising Consumerism, oligopoly and globalization: a command economy of corporations Consumerism and subjectivity: the politics of fear Conclusions Part III The Historical Analysis of the US-Centred Global Food Regime 66 68 71 72 76 79 4 The Food Regime and Consumers’ Health Capitalist agriculture The case of tobacco The global food regime: a story of irrationality The obesity “epidemic” Sugar Meatification and fat consumption Hunger and starvation Salt Soy Pesticides Food additives Microorganisms Loss of nutrients Genetically modified organisms Supermarkets Fast food chains Conclusions 80 81 84 87 91 95 101 105 108 109 110 113 114 115 118 119 120 122 5 The Health of Agriculture and Food Workers Workers in the US agricultural and food systems Workers in the agricultural and food systems of developing countries Conclusions 124 125 Agriculture, Food Provisioning and the Environment Peak oil and biofuels 146 147 6 133 144 CONTENTS vii Global warming Land and deforestation Fresh water The oceans Species loss Genetically modified organisms Waste Conclusions 154 156 158 159 160 161 163 164 7 Food, Marketing and Choice in the United States Choice and the case of tobacco Marketing Marketing to children Choosing junk foods Consumer sovereignty Conclusions 165 167 171 172 177 178 180 8 Corporate Power, Food and Liberal Democracy Corporations and government Corporations and the legal system Corporations and science Conclusions 182 185 189 190 197 Part IV Conclusions 9 199 Agriculture, Food and the Fight for Democracy, Social Justice, Health and Sustainability Capitalism’s food failures Movements for change Toward a more effective and accountable public sector More accountable corporations Making markets democratically accountable Conclusions 200 201 203 204 205 208 210 Notes Bibliography Index 212 238 251 Preface On December 17, 2007 the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced at a press conference in Rome that 37 countries were in a food crisis requiring “urgent steps to protect the poor from soaring food prices.”1 One of the leading international business magazines, the Economist, published only minimal coverage of this crisis until its April 19, 2008 issue (four months later).

It now takes one barrel of oil to produce three barrels of oil from oil sands, and as a result, three times the quantity of greenhouse gases are produced per barrel of oil from oil sands than for conventional oil.9 Further, because it takes up to 4.5 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil from oil sands, aquifers are being drained and huge toxic tailing ponds are created.10 While there has been awareness of the problem of peak oil along with the problem of global warming for years, the lobbying and propaganda power of the oil, chemical and auto industries have delayed for at least two decades most efforts to wean the US economy and especially agriculture off petroleum. The efforts that are being made now either switch from one problem to an equally damaging one (substituting ethanol for oil), or tend to be too little and too late when we consider the enormity of the problem.


pages: 339 words: 95,988

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

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airport security, Broken windows theory, crack epidemic, desegregation, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, George Akerlof, Joseph Schumpeter, mental accounting, moral hazard, More Guns, Less Crime, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, pets.com, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, school choice, sensible shoes, Steven Pinker, Ted Kaczynski, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty

So please, dear blog readers: let us know if we’re right or wrong re the Black Sox. We’ll be a little sad to have been wrong, but a lot happy to correct the mistake. A Freakonomics T-shirt goes to the first person who offers hard evidence of the dirty-socks theory. —SJD (May 20, 2005, and Aug. 5, 2005) “‘Peak Oil’: Welcome to the Media’s New Version of Shark Attacks” The cover story of the Aug. 21 New York Times Magazine, written by Peter Maass, is about “Peak Oil.” The idea behind “peak oil” is that the world has been on a path of increasing oil production for many years, and now we are about to peak and go into a situation where there are dwindling reserves, leading to triple-digit prices for a barrel of oil, an unparalleled worldwide depression, and as one web page puts it, “Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon.”

So even if high prices don’t cause a recession, the Saudis risk losing market share to rivals into whose nonfundamentalist hands Americans would much prefer to channel their energy dollars. As he notes, high prices lead people to develop substitutes. Which is exactly why we don’t need to panic over peak oil in the first place. So why do I compare peak oil to shark attacks? It is because shark attacks mostly stay about constant, but fear of them goes up sharply when the media decides to report on them. The same thing, I bet, will now happen with peak oil. I expect tons of copycat journalism stoking the fears of consumers about oil-induced catastrophe, even though nothing fundamental has changed in the oil outlook in the last decade. —SDL (Aug. 21, 2005) “Is America Ready for an Organ-Donor Market?” Probably not. But, in what is either a very odd coincidence or some kind of concerted effort to get out the organ-market message, there are op-eds in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal today arguing the case.

High oil prices are inflationary; they raise the cost of virtually everything—from gasoline to jet fuel to plastics and fertilizers—and that means people buy less and travel less, which means a drop-off in economic activity. So after a brief windfall for producers, oil prices would slide as recession sets in and once-voracious economies slow down, using less oil. Prices have collapsed before, and not so long ago: in 1998, oil fell to $10 a barrel after an untimely increase in OPEC production and a reduction in demand from Asia, which was suffering through a financial crash. Oops, there goes the whole peak-oil argument. When the price rises, demand falls, and oil prices slide. What happened to “the end of the world as we know it”? Now we are back to $10-a-barrel oil. Without realizing it, the author just invoked basic economics to invalidate the entire premise of the article! Just for good measure, he goes on to write: High prices can have another unfortunate effect for producers. When crude costs $10 a barrel or even $30 a barrel, alternative fuels are prohibitively expensive.


pages: 559 words: 169,094

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, big-box store, citizen journalism, cleantech, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, East Village, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, financial independence, financial innovation, Flash crash, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, new economy, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, smart grid, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, union organizing, urban planning, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight

Dean happened to get the last question of the day. He stood up and said, “Since we’re all here advocating the same thing, and we’re going to go out and preach the gospel, one of the things that needs to be talked about is peak oil—because without it, nothing of what we’re doing makes any sense. How does the administration feel about peak oil?” Jones didn’t appear to be familiar with the Obama policy on peak oil, or even what peak oil was. He handed the question off to a woman from the Department of Energy, who spoke for half a minute, demonstrating that she didn’t know any more than Jones. Afterward, Dean decided that peak oil was just too hard for politicians to handle. It meant the end of suburban, fast-food, industrial America, including Wall Street—no wonder the White House didn’t have a position. But Dean was taken with Van Jones, who exchanged high fives with him and Gary at the end of the event.

One day, Dean was sitting on a bar stool at his kitchen table, surfing a website called “Whiskey and Gunpowder: The Independent Investor’s Daily Guide to Gold, Commodities, Profits and Freedom” on the lousy dial-up connection that was all you could get in Stokesdale, when he read the words “peak oil.” It meant the point when petroleum extraction would reach its maximum rate and begin to fall off. A geologist with Gulf Oil named M. King Hubbert came up with the theory in 1956. Hubbert predicted that the United States, the world’s largest oil producer, would hit its high point in domestic production around 1970—which was what happened, and which explained why oil prices became so volatile throughout the seventies. Hubbert’s theory was that the rest of the world would reach peak oil right around 2005. Dean stood up at the table, went weak in his knees, and stumbled backward. He had a vision of what peak oil would mean where he lived (Katrina had already given a glimpse): long-haul trucks coming to a standstill, food stranded on the highways, local people unable to eat or get to work or heat their homes.

Napoleon wrote about the power of concentration—that if you concentrated your mind on one subject for an extended period of time, things would start popping into your head and what you needed to know would be illuminated to you. Dean could feel that happening to him now. He immediately called his mentor, Rocky Carter—the contractor who had built the truck stop by the Martinsville Speedway and turned Dean on to Napoleon Hill—and told him about this discovery. In the spring of 2006, around the time Dean found out about peak oil, his friend Howard saw a story on CNN about a man in Tennessee who was making ethanol that he sold for fifty cents a gallon. Howard was twelve years older than Dean and had grown up in a house that his family rented for twenty-five dollars a month on the Price tobacco farm. He was stocky and irascible, with a thick white mustache and powerful forearms, and he had spent most of his adult life stringing television cable, drinking, fighting, and riding motorcycles.


pages: 337 words: 103,273

The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World by Paul Gilding

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airport security, Albert Einstein, BRICs, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, Climategate, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, failed state, fear of failure, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, market fundamentalism, Naomi Klein, new economy, nuclear winter, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, University of East Anglia

Oil was a good candidate for convincing evidence because it had long been predicted that we would at some point reach “peak oil”—the point after which oil extraction can no longer be increased. There was a clear and established link between economic growth and oil consumption that made the “growth hitting its limits” logic simple for people to understand. This would also be a good test of the techno-optimist view—that markets self-correct because as resources run out, prices rise and alternatives come onstream. (While this is obviously correct in theory and over time, there are considerable challenges in the politics and economics of the transition and timing unless the price rises are steady and slow, which they rarely are.) Peak oil is a good example of limits being reached because of the suddenness of the impact, comparable conceptually to the collapse of fisheries we discussed earlier.

If we have to eliminate the fossil-fuel industry to cut CO2 emissions, we will have lost $3 trillion of economic activity. If we don’t eliminate them, we will face runaway climate change with the potential for the loss of the insurance industry, the collapse of the food supply, and geopolitical crises and instability over water and refugees. If we get growth back on track as it was before 2008, then we will face peak oil and food shortages with prices soaring to new highs that stop growth again. The issue is not therefore whether growth is stopping, the issue is how it will stop, when we will accept that it has, and how we will then adjust to our new reality. So when you hear arguments in defense of growth, consider them not as the case against ending it, because this is not a decision we will get to make. Think of them as more evidence of how challenging its inevitable end will be.

• The combined pressures of increasing demand and lower agricultural output driven by climate change will lead to sustained increases in food prices—triggering economic and geopolitical instability and tension, with developing countries blaming the West for causing climate change. • A deeply degraded global ecosystem will further reduce the capacity of key ecosystem services—water, fisheries and agricultural land. This will again impact food and water supply, political stability and global security. • We will see even further sustained and rapid increases in oil prices as peak oil is breached. Yes, it will go up and down, but the trend will be clear. This will create enormous systemwide economic and political pressure, as well as a great conflict between expanding dirtier supply and cutting CO2 emissions. • As always in predicting the future, there will be surprises. These could be, for example, a serious global terrorist attack wiping out a major city or a pandemic shutting down global travel.


pages: 364 words: 101,193

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Climatic Research Unit, Deng Xiaoping, failed state, ice-free Arctic, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, price stability, South China Sea, supervolcano

With current reserves being depleted without replacement by new reserves, the ‘peak oil’ crowd would indeed seem to be on to something. The British climate change campaigner and ex-geologist Jeremy Leggett warns that a failure to face up to peak oil could cause a global economic crash, combined with an upsurge in military conflict in the Middle East over the remaining oil reserves-conflict of which the US war in Iraq could be a foretaste. The energy analyst Richard Heinberg calls for a strategy he calls ‘powerdown’, where the world undertakes a conscious shift away from the high-energy society in order to avoid collapse on the day the oil wells begin to run dry. There is a confusing overlap between the peak oil and climate change issues. Logically, the decline of oil supplies must be a good thing for the stability of the climate, because it would force a transition away from fossil fuels-a transition which seems unlikely to be undertaken voluntarily.

In Hong Kong's 2006 marathon, for example, several runners were hospitalised and one died after completing the course in persistent smog. Because of its sheer size and population, China is on a collision course with the planet. The country's oil use has doubled in the last ten years, and if the Chinese by 2030 use oil at the same rate as Americans do now, China will need 100 million barrels of oil a day. However, current world production is only around 80 million barrels per day, and is unlikely to rise much further before the ‘peak oil’ point is reached. There simply isn't enough oil in the ground to bring Chinese consumption up to Western levels-the global resource buffer is already being hit. Similarly for food: as the Chinese diet becomes increasingly rich in meat and dairy products, more grain is needed. By 2030, if Chinese consumers are to become as voracious as Americans, they will use the equivalent of two-thirds of today's entire global harvest.

Bearing this societal dysfunction in mind, it is perhaps rather unfair to blame individuals for not facing up to climate change when the whole weight of economy and society works effectively in preventing them from doing so. Bob Dylan once sang about how the white Southerner who shot the black civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963 was ‘just a pawn in their game’. So are we all, pawns in the game of global warming. But we are not entirely powerless, nor entirely blameless. The collective hand that moves these pawns is our own. Peak oil We may not have the luxury of choosing whether to give up fossil fuels voluntarily, however. In the last few years an increasing number of knowledgeable people have come to the conclusion that world oil supplies are close to peaking, raising the spectre of an energy crunch which would cause untold hardship. There are good reasons why they could be right. The discovery of new oil reserves has been on a steady downward trend since the mid-1960s.


pages: 501 words: 134,867

A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice by Tony Weis, Joshua Kahn Russell

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Bakken shale, bilateral investment treaty, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial exploitation, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, Deep Water Horizon, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, Exxon Valdez, failed state, global village, guest worker program, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, immigration reform, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, LNG terminal, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, profit maximization, race to the bottom, smart grid, special economic zone, working poor

This means that returns on investment are much lower in the tar sands than in places with cheaper production costs (such as the Middle East, historically.) At the same time, enormous capital investment is needed to enable the extraction, transport, and refining of bitumen. So it was not until world oil prices began to rise quickly in the face of growing limits to conventional supplies—reflecting the dynamics of “peak oil”10—that the tar sands industry became sufficiently profitable for many large-scale energy and financial corporations to ramp up their investments. Here, it is also helpful to remember that oil, coal, and natural gas account for roughly four-fifths of the world’s net primary energy supply (that is, the sum of energy used in all production, transportation, and households).11 Of these, oil is the most crucial, as both the greatest source of energy generation and the overwhelming source of liquid fuel that powers global transportation systems.

The basic truth starts with the fact that fossil fuels permeate nearly every aspect of global capitalism and have a central function in powering the relentless pursuit of growth and profits. Thus, the race to expand the tar sands and other forms of extreme fossil energy is indeed necessary to perpetuate the current order of things and, at least in the near term, the success in this has been reflected in the diminished talk of peak oil. (Here, along with the tar sands, the explosive rise of fracking for oil and gas is especially notable.) Of course, extreme energy projects can mean great earnings for financiers from Wall Street to Bay Street, and for energy corporations from Calgary to Texas to Europe—though we must be clear that these industries also relate to jobs for ordinary people in countless ways, from the tar sands themselves, to automobile assembly lines, to a food system that runs on oil.

These methods are what I refer to here as “extreme” extraction, from turning coal into liquid forms of energy, to hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) to open huge swaths of natural gas and trapped “tight” oil in the US and Russia, and the net result threatens to add years of life to the dying fossil fuel economy. While some industry champions celebrate this extreme extraction as having put questions of “peak oil” behind us, it in fact illustrates a central pillar: the fossil fuel industry is now turning its attention to scraping the proverbial bottom of the barrel. Of the various forms of extreme extraction, the tar sands in Canada are quite likely the most well known, a gigaproject that is slowly metastasizing into a teraproject, now widely recognized as the largest industrial project in human history.


pages: 537 words: 144,318

The Invisible Hands: Top Hedge Fund Traders on Bubbles, Crashes, and Real Money by Steven Drobny

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Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, Commodity Super-Cycle, commodity trading advisor, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, debt deflation, diversification, diversified portfolio, equity premium, family office, fiat currency, fixed income, follow your passion, full employment, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index fund, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, market microstructure, moral hazard, North Sea oil, open economy, peak oil, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discovery process, price stability, private sector deleveraging, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, random walk, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, savings glut, Sharpe ratio, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, statistical arbitrage, stochastic volatility, The Great Moderation, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, unbiased observer, value at risk, Vanguard fund, yield curve

The next bubble could be due to both peak oil and the end of fiat money. There is much hysteria around commodities, not only because of peak oil and similar theories, but also because people wish to diversify into “real” assets that governments cannot manipulate. Disruptive processes always trigger a variety of bubbles. It is difficult to project which asset or technology will initially dominate as a replacement for something like oil and capital rushes into anything with even some probability of success. I cannot help thinking that one of the bubbles will be something related not only to gold, oil, natural gas, and traditional commodities, but also to windmills, solar power, and other related areas. Technology is very disruptive. Everyone is convinced about peak oil, and the rise of the BRICs has additional demand consequences that imply extremely bullish scenarios for oil.

But it came in all at once, all at the wrong time. I chastise myself for not realizing the importance of this flow at the time, but every single real money manager we talked to said they were in for the long term. I would ask, “If commodities are down 30 percent, are you going to get out?” And they would say no. Yet when commodities fell along with everything else, they all got out. Everyone sold. Do you believe in peak oil whereby crude goes to several hundred dollars, and all other commodities are dragged up with it? No. I believe that over time oil will go back down. $50 to $80 is a reasonable range for oil, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it below these levels. There is serious demand destruction in fossil fuels, and a strong movement in favor of bio and alternative fuels. Again, there is going to be a decoupling within the commodity spectrum, with food and ags leading the way.

If you cannot hold positions for 5, 10, 15 years through various volatility regimes or your investors are not comfortable dealing with that kind of interim volatility, you cannot have this kind of investment process. Instead, perhaps you should be more focused on shorter-term catalysts, stocks that might outperform in the next few months or quarters, etc. Long-term stories do not really change that much. If you were long energy in 2008, whether it’s crude or mining companies or oil companies, on the theory of emerging markets growth, peak oil, and all that good stuff, you can make the same arguments today that you could have made a year ago, even five years ago. In the meantime, however, crude has gone up a few times, then down 80 percent and back up 50 percent, while many equities doubled and tripled and then went down 90 percent. As things get cheaper, people tend to want to buy more of them because the value seems better; but they are often trying to fit long-term judgment onto a shorter-term mandate.


pages: 329 words: 85,471

The Locavore's Dilemma by Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Shimizu

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air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, Community Supported Agriculture, edge city, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, intermodal, invention of agriculture, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, land tenure, megacity, moral hazard, mortgage debt, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, planetary scale, profit motive, refrigerator car, Steven Pinker, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl

As one University of Copenhagen economist observed at the time, the Danish agricultural performance was only as good as it turned out to be because the “Germans paid for the war effort,” and, overall, the Danish economy consumed some of its accumulated capital and suffered “heavy financial loss[es].”68 In Denmark, as elsewhere, increased national self-sufficiency would have been unsustainable in the long run and the adoption of this policy on an ever smaller geographical scale (i.e., locavorism), even less so. Peak Oil and Locavorism69 Another common belief among locavores in terms of food security is that their prescription prepares us for the unavoidable re-localization of our food system that will follow the imminent peak and later depletion of our supply of “cheap petroleum” in the next century. This argument, however, is fallacious, whether or not one believes in the peak oil rhetoric. For starters, even assuming a world in which hostile aliens have emptied all of our best oil fields, all credible analysts (there are always a few pessimistic outliers) tell us that, with minimal efforts to look beyond the ample economically recoverable reserves available at the moment, we could easily have enough coal to last us several centuries.70 It is true that rebuilding our global food supply chain around (mostly liquefied) coal would be more expensive, inconvenien,t and environmentally damaging than around petroleum-derived liquid fuels (which is why they displaced coal in the first place), but it does not present any insurmountable problem—indeed, South Africa’s Sasol, the world’s largest producer of coal-based liquids, already manufactures a completely synthetic jet fuel.

Megastores Shantytowns and Social Capital Higher Food Prices and Humanistic Pursuits Chapter 3 - Myth #2: Locavorism Delivers a Free Economic Lunch The Broken Window Fallacy Physical Geography and Agricultural Specialization The Importance of Latitude Economies of Scale The Debate Over Land Use Time and Trade-offs Chapter 4 - Myth #3: Locavorism Heals the Earth On the Unbalance of Nature Locavorism and the (Mis)management of Natural Resources The Basic Problems with Food Miles Blame It on the Poor People Green Cities and Trade Chapter 5 - Myth #4: Locavorism Increases Food Security The Third Horseman The Slaying of the Third Horseman (with Long Distance Trade) Agricultural Resilience: Diversification vs. Monocultures Overspecialization and Food Security Locavorism and Military Security Peak Oil and Locavorism Climate Change, Locavorism, and Food Security Chapter 6 - Myth #5: Locavorism Offers Tastier, More Nutritious, and Safer Food The Changing Human Body Taste Nutrition Food Safety Chapter 7 - Well-Meaning Coercion, Unintended Consequences, and Bad Outcomes A Brief Historical Overview of Government Intervention in Food Markets Public Food Reserves Food Export Restrictions and Bans Price Floors Price Ceilings On Appointing “Good” Czars Unleashing the Invisible Hand CONCLUSION EPILOGUE NOTES INDEX Copyright Page To Ferenc (“Ferko”) Csillag (1955–2005), dear friend and mentor.

Reverting to coal in the 21st century would also not mean reverting to 19th century engine technologies, but simply to a more expensive and inconvenient fuel that would compete with other unconventional sources (from shale oil to Canadian oil sands). Furthermore, because the liquid fraction of petroleum used to power container ships is for the most part the dirtiest and cheapest (so-called “bunker fuel”) for which there is at present little other demand,71 higher crude prices would have a much more pronounced effect on other segments of the food supply chain than on long distance maritime transportation. At any rate, the Peak Oil rhetoric should not be taken seriously. Pessimistic energy forecasts have a long history—predictions of imminent petroleum shortages were even made before the first oil well was drilled in Western Pennsylvania in the middle of the 19th century—and a truly awful track record.72 The main problem historically is that energy doomsayers never quite understood that humans are not only mouths to feed, but also brains to think and arms to work, along with the fact that resources are not fixed and permanent things that exist in and of themselves, but instead are created by always renewable human intellect and labor.


pages: 448 words: 142,946

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

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Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, lump of labour, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, peak oil, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, special drawing rights, spinning jenny, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail

However, this objection only illustrates a larger point. Yes, it is possible to maintain economic growth by displacing it from the consumption of one part of the commons to another—by burning gas instead of oil or by commoditizing human services or intellectual property instead of the cod fishery—but aggregated over the totality of the social, natural, cultural, and spiritual commons, the basic argument of Peak Oil remains valid. Instead of Peak Oil, we are facing Peak Everything. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, the first government response, the bailout and monetary stimulus, was an attempt to uphold a tower of debt upon debt that far exceeded its real economic foundation. As such, its apparent success was temporary, a postponement of the inevitable: “pretend and extend,” as some on Wall Street call it. The alternative, economic stimulus, is doomed for a deeper reason.

It is the “discrete and separate self,” the Cartesian self: a bubble of psychology marooned in an indifferent universe, seeking to own, to control, to arrogate as much wealth to itself as possible, but foredoomed by its very cutoff from the richness of connected beingness to the experience of never having enough. The assertion that we live in a world of abundance sometimes provokes an emotional reaction, bordering on hostility, in those of my readers who believe that harmonious human coexistence with the rest of life is impossible without a massive reduction in population. They cite Peak Oil and resource depletion, global warming, the exhaustion of our farmland, and our ecological footprint as evidence that the earth cannot long support industrial civilization at present population levels. This book offers a response to this concern as part of a vision of a sacred economy. More importantly, it addresses the “how” questions as well—for example, how we will get to there from here. For now I will offer a partial response, a reason for hope.

If it is not forbidden, or at least limited in some way, then at some point the growing liens of debt holders on the limited revenue will become greater than the future producers of that revenue will be willing or able to support, and conflict will result. The conflict takes the form of debt repudiation. Debt grows at compound interest and as a purely mathematical quantity encounters no limits to slow it down. Wealth grows for a while at compound interest, but, having a physical dimension, its growth sooner or later encounters limits.2 This association of economic growth with resource consumption is especially common today among Peak Oil theorists, who forecast economic collapse as oil production begins its “long descent.” Their critics contend that economic growth can and does happen independent of energy use, thanks to technology, miniaturization, efficiency improvements, and so on. Since 1960, U.S. economic growth has outstripped energy use, a trend that accelerated in the 1980s (see Figure 1). Germany has done even better, having essentially flat energy use since 1991 despite considerable economic growth.


pages: 309 words: 78,361

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth by Juliet B. Schor

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Asian financial crisis, big-box store, business climate, carbon footprint, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Gini coefficient, global village, income inequality, income per capita, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, life extension, McMansion, new economy, peak oil, pink-collar, post-industrial society, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, smart grid, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, Zipcar

The tone got nasty. It also assumed an unfortunate political hue, with conservatives more likely to dismiss the concerns, and supporters on the other side of the spectrum. The conventional wisdom was that the economists won the day. One reason is that the shortages the model focused on were food and nonrenewables, such as stocks of oil and bauxite and other minerals. This was partly because of concern about peak oil and a long history of energy modeling. When energy, food, and other commodity prices declined in the 1980s, it was seen as prima facie evidence against the scarcity view and closed the case for some. On this point, there was a well-publicized bet between Ehrlich and an economist named Julian Simon about what would happen to the prices of key minerals, which Ehrlich lost decisively. The economists also correctly foresaw future increases in agricultural productivity, although they missed rising numbers of hungry and malnourished people and the destructive effects of the chemical- and water-intensive farming on which higher yields have been based.

The Berkshires area of Massachusetts has become famous for the successful launch of BerkShares, a parallel currency to the U.S. dollar that aims to create community cohesion and boost local purchasing power. Around the nation, local sustainability committees have taken up the mission of bringing their communities together for land-use planning, carbon reduction, income security, and greater self-reliance. The vanguard of this movement is thinking long-term, spurred on by the need to wean off fossil fuels and a belief, by some, in the phenomenon of peak oil. A global movement called Transition Towns is helping small locales transform themselves to become self-reliant. The Post Carbon Cities network, which has a similar mission, is active from Spokane to Nevada City to Alachua County, Florida. There are also homegrown efforts. A few years ago, people in rural areas of Northern California began conversations to create an “off the grid” network of farms and businesses.

The economic system was due for a crash (they were right about that), imported energy could no longer be relied on (to be determined), and people needed to come together to start planning for very different ways of living. “It can’t be one family or one ranch of 20 acres,” he explained. “We need to be together and share resources.” Unlike old-school neo-survivalists, many in this movement are upbeat. “I’m not motivated by fear,” says West. We can “sustainably share resources. It’s intoxicating.” One needn’t believe in apocalyptic visions of peak oil to recognize that enhanced investment in each other, that is, in community, is good economics. The era of disconnection has left us socially undercapitalized. This is not only for the reason social scientists have traditionally identified, which is that social capital yields economic and political benefits such as better government and better economic functioning. It is also because without it, we are ill equipped to survive adverse events.


pages: 224 words: 69,494

Mobility: A New Urban Design and Transport Planning Philosophy for a Sustainable Future by John Whitelegg

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active transport: walking or cycling, Berlin Wall, British Empire, car-free, conceptual framework, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, decarbonisation, energy transition, eurozone crisis, glass ceiling, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, peak oil, post-industrial society, price mechanism, smart cities, telepresence, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Spirit Level, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban sprawl

Energy Transport is responsible for 22% of total global energy consumption (United Nations, 2013). The breakdown of energy use by mode is shown in Table 6.1. The combination of global population increase (a 40% increase is predicted in the period 2010-2030), rapid economic development and car ownership growth in China, India and South American countries and a decline in oil availability (the peak oil problem) all conspire to create serious difficulties for traditional forms of oil-based mobility. A growth in mobility will increase the demand for energy and it is European Union policy to reduce the demand for energy whilst at the same time promoting growth (European Commission 2013a and 2013b). This is a fundamental policy conflict that remains unaddressed. The European Commission energy policy R&D document (European Commission, 2013b) states that EU energy policy has the objective of holding 2020 energy consumption down to no more than 1474 Mtoe of primary energy consumption and 1078 of final energy consumption.

These strategies not only conserve, land, energy and financial resources, but also help the poor and those without privatized motorised vehicles to access goods and services within the city. In short, accessible cities are inclusive, resourceful and pro-poor.” Accessible cities are also much more resilient. They can deal with shocks that might disrupt transport systems (strikes, civil unrest, and severe weather) and also with fuel price hikes that might result from peak oil and global shortages of oil as India, China and Brazil accelerate their “progress” towards Californian or Swedish levels of car ownership and use. It will be a mistake of some considerable historical significance not to build resilient cities. Holger and Dalkmann (2007) have provided a coherent structure that locates e-mobility in the sustainable transport conceptual framework. They call this the “Avoid, Shift, Improve” strategy or for short ASI.

The human race is getting fatter and the planet is getting hotter, and fossil fuels are the cause of both….obesity is a normal human response to a sick environment, the bodily consequences of living in a world flooded with cheap energy. As a result of petroleum powered transportation and the road danger it creates, we walk and cycle less than ever before in the history of the world and our personal energy output has plummeted…climate change and fatness are different facets of the same basic problem.” We are much more likely to be able to solve climate change and obesity problems and deal with peak oil vulnerability if we harness the synergy that exists between public health, quality of life and climate change concerns. They are all part of the same debate and all require a serious and dramatic upgrade of our built environment to reward the cyclist and the pedestrian. The current “Zeitgeist” is to reward the motorist and to increase climate change and obesity problems. Climate change is a larger scale imbalance phenomenon where the inputs (greenhouse gases from fossil fuel burning) are too great for the bigger system(s) to absorb/handle with the result that there are also severe negative consequences.


pages: 217 words: 61,407

Twilight of Abundance: Why the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish, and Short by David Archibald

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Bakken shale, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, deindustrialization, energy security, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income per capita, means of production, mutually assured destruction, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, out of africa, peak oil, price discovery process, rising living standards, South China Sea, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War

Chapter 7: The Leaving of Oil 1.Steven Connor, “Warning: Oil Supplies Are Running Out Fast,” Independent, August 3, 2009, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/warning-oil-supplies-are-running-out-fast-1766585.html. 2.“World Energy Outlook 2012,” International Energy Agency, November 12, 2012, http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/publications/weo-2012/. 3.Matthieu Auzanneau, “‘Denying the Imminence of Peak Oil Is a Tragic Error,’ Says Ex-IEA Petroleum Expert,” LeMonde, Oil Man (blog), July 9, 2012, http://petrole.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/07/09/denying-the-imminence-of-peak-oil-is-a-tragic-error-says-ex-iea-petroleum-expert/. 4.M. King Hubbert, “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels,” presentation to the American Petroleum Institute, Dallas, 1956. 5.“Onshore Gas Topic Update,” October 2013, addition to Prudent Development—Realizing the Potential of North America’s Abundant Natural Gas and Oil Resources, National Petroleum Council, September 2011. 6.Stan Stetler, “The New Synfuels: A History of Dakota Gasification Company and the Great Plains Synfuels Plant,” Dakota Gasification Company, 2011. 7.Gordon Hughes, The Performance of Wind Farms in the United Kingdom and Denmark (London: Renewable Energy Foundation, 2012). 8.

If they had not attempted to take over the means of production and exchange in the name of global warming, humanity would be blundering completely unsuspectingly into a cold period that will cause widespread crop failures and starvation. We will still have the crop failures and starvation, but we will understand what is causing it while it is happening and be able to take some steps to mitigate the damage. Consider how some of these trends are already affecting one country, the United Kingdom. The UK’s peak oil production was in 1999 at 2.9 million barrels per day. It has since fallen rapidly, to 0.9 million barrels per day in 2012. Peak coal production in that country was 292 million metric tons—a hundred years ago. It is now less than 10 million metric tons per annum. The UK is now importing almost all of the fossil fuel it burns. The British decided to move to wind power but recently found that turbines were lasting only about half as long as the wind industry said they would.

What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World by Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian

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banking crisis, British Empire, Doomsday Clock, failed state, feminist movement, Howard Zinn, informal economy, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Thomas L Friedman, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus

And there is only one thing you can do, and that is to weaken the dollar, which will increase inflation and the cost of commodities for consumers, but also could lead to a rise in exports and in manufacturing jobs. As for peak oil, that might actually be a blessing if it’s close. People talk about it as a catastrophe, but what they’re failing to notice is that continued use of oil could cause a worse catastrophe, maybe only one generation from now. Oil is finite. So at some point it will no longer be economical to use oil. When that will be, nobody really knows. There are many ambiguities, including whether it’s not going to be economically possible to refine oil from tar sands or to exploit other oil that’s currently hard to access. It may turn out that Venezuela has the largest reserves in the world, by some measures.42 It’s just very hard to get to. But peak oil will come. If this situation leads to sensible steps toward reconstructing our society and we accommodate to the fact that we cannot keep polluting the atmosphere, we cannot keep destroying the environment or else we’ll all die; if that happens sooner, fine.

His proposal is that production of weapons-grade fissile materials be placed under international control and supervision. Anyone who wants to apply for fissile materials can apply to the IAEA for peaceful use.39 That’s a very sensible proposal. As far as I’m aware, there is only one country in the world that has accepted it—Iran. Try to find a reference to that somewhere. David Korten has a new book out called The Great Turning.40 He describes a perfect storm that is looming consisting of three elements: peak oil, climate change, and the collapse of the U.S. dollar. Those are all problems, but I think a much more serious one than any of them is the threat of nuclear war. It’s not talked about much except in professional circles. If you read the literature by strategic analysts on disarmament, nuclear war is regarded as a serious and growing threat, a threat that’s been very sharply increased by the Bush administration’s aggressive militarism.


pages: 879 words: 233,093

The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by Jeremy Rifkin

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, British Empire, carbon footprint, collaborative economy, death of newspapers, delayed gratification, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, feminist movement, global village, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, labour mobility, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, planetary scale, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, supply-chain management, surplus humans, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, working poor, World Values Survey

With global oil reserves dwindling and the worldwide demand for energy increasing—especially in the emerging nations of India and China, where two billion plus inhabitants make up more than one-third of the human race—concern over global peak oil is becoming more urgently debated. Once peak oil is reached, the oil age is effectively over because the price of energy becomes virtually unaffordable on the backside of the bell curve. While no one knows for sure when oil is likely to peak, the gap in perspective between optimists and pessimists continues to narrow. The former argue that global peak oil is likely to occur between 2030 and 2035. The latter say it will likely peak between 2010 and 2020.88 A few of the world’s leading oil experts say it’s already peaked.89 The North Sea peaked in 2000.90 Mexico, the world’s seventh-largest oil producer, is likely to peak around 2010.91 Russia is likely to peak shortly thereafter.

For the most part, the fluctuations generally are small and can be adjusted to by negative feedback. However, occasionally, according to Prigogine, the fluctuations become so great that the system is unable to adjust, and positive feedback takes over. The fluctuations feed off themselves and amplification can easily overwhelm the whole system. That’s exactly what’s occurring today as civilization heads to global peak oil production and into the early stages of real-time climate change impacts. When the fluctuations overwhelm the system, it either collapses or reorganizes itself. If it’s able to reorganize itself, the new dissipative structure will often exhibit a higher order of complexity and integration and a greater flow-through than its predecessor. Each successive ordering, because it’s more complex than the one preceding it, is even more vulnerable to fluctuations, collapse, and reordering.

Millions of refugees are crossing borders in a scramble to keep one step ahead of the effects of energy prices and climate change, creating strife between neighboring countries. Oil shortages and the dramatic fluctuation in the price of oil on the world market are fanning political unrest and precipitating armed confl ict and civil wars on three continents. Currently, one-third of all the civil wars being fought in the world are in the oil-producing countries. As we head toward global peak oil production—the point where half of the world’s available supply of oil is used up—and accelerating climate change, the real-time destructive impacts on ecosystems, economies, and social spaces are potential lightning rods for escalating violence. A NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON Human desperation is likely to reach levels never before experienced in our history on Earth. Within this context, the proliferation of nuclear material and relatively easy access to deadly genetically engineered pathogens becomes all the more terrifying.


pages: 717 words: 150,288

Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism by Stephen Graham

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airport security, anti-communist, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, credit crunch, DARPA: Urban Challenge, defense in depth, deindustrialization, edge city, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Google Earth, illegal immigration, income inequality, knowledge economy, late capitalism, loose coupling, market fundamentalism, McMansion, megacity, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, peak oil, planetary scale, private military company, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, surplus humans, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, white flight

Found at http://www.darpa.mil/GRANDCHALLENGE/galleryasp. 9.10 Estimates for the future introduction of fully autonomous military and civilian vehicles from the Urban Challenge presentations of Stanford University’s entry Sebastian Thrun, ‘Stanford Racing Team’, at http://mediax.stanford.edu/conference_07/speakers/thrun/thrun,%20sebastian%20-%20urban%20 challenge.pdf 9.11 Peak Oil and the growing gap between discovery and production. Redrawn from Cameron Leckie, ‘Peak Oil and the Australian Army’, The Australian Army Journal, 4: 3, 23. 9.13 ‘Potential Military Implications of Climate Change’. Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security, report to the Pentagon, October 2003, http://www.gbn.com/GBNDocumentDisplayServlet.srv?aid=26231&url=/UploadDocumentDisplayServlet.srv?

In light of the growing reliance on volatile supplies from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, how can Western and US military forces support energy security – given the increasing military and economic strength of major competitors like China and India, which are struggling to meet their own exploding oil demand? How, in short, must military and political strategy respond to what has been widely called ‘peak oil’, and to the scarcity and dramatic increasing oil prices that it will inevitably bring (Figure 9.11)? The strategic imperative is underlined by simulation exercises suggesting that even relatively modest disruptions in the global oil supply might have broad and cascading implications. One especially high-profile simulation, named Oil Shockwave, was undertaken in mid-2005 by a group of senior US national security officials for the National Commission on Energy Policy.

Gates, pointed out that the simulation’s main conclusion was that ‘it only requires a relatively small amount of oil to be taken out of the system to have huge economic and security implications’.135 A 4 per cent global shortfall in daily supply, for example – generated, in their hypothetical scenario, by violent unrest in the Niger delta, combined with simultaneous terrorist attacks on oil ports and infrastructures in Alaska and Saudi Arabia – was enough to result in an immediate 177 per cent increase in the price of oil. 9.11 Peak Oil and the growing gap between discovery and production. Since the days of Jimmy Carter, US foreign and military policy has been organized around the imperative of using, as he famously put it, ‘any means necessary, including military force’, to safeguard the supply and flow of Persian Gulf oil.136 The invasion of Iraq was the direct result of the imposition of a new, pre-emptive warfare strategy, developed by a group of neoconservatives and designed, in part, to secure US control over the rapidly diminishing strategic oil reserves in both the Middle East and the Caspian basin.

The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. Korten

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Albert Einstein, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, death of newspapers, declining real wages, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, informal economy, invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Monroe Doctrine, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, new economy, peak oil, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, South Sea Bubble, stem cell, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, trade route, Washington Consensus, World Values Survey

.… Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life.”13 The End of Oil A sharp rise in oil prices in 2004 and 2005, coupled with revelations that Shell and other oil companies were systematically overestimating their proven petroleum reserves, spurred a lively discussion of when global The Imperative 61 oil production will peak and begin an inexorable decline in the face of growing demand and rising extraction costs. Referred to as “peak oil,” this event is predicted to send energy prices skyrocketing and result in massive economic dislocation as the cheap oil subsidy that fueled much of the economic expansion of the past hundred years is withdrawn. According to Fortune, the most optimistic estimates from credible sources place peak oil as much as thirty-five years in the future. Other credible experts suggest that 2005 may have been the fateful year. Meanwhile China has gone from having virtually no private automobiles in 1980 to having a projected 24 million in 2005, with anticipated exponential growth for the foreseeable future.14 In 2004, China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest consumer of oil.15 The United States, of course, is the number one oil consumer.

Meanwhile China has gone from having virtually no private automobiles in 1980 to having a projected 24 million in 2005, with anticipated exponential growth for the foreseeable future.14 In 2004, China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest consumer of oil.15 The United States, of course, is the number one oil consumer. As Fortune correctly notes, it really does not matter whether peak oil has already occurred or will not be encountered for another thirty-five years.16 Reconfiguring the world’s economy to move beyond dependence on petroleum and reverse the buildup of greenhouse gases must be an essential and immediate priority. If we humans do not choose to act on our own, Earth is poised to make the choice for us by forcing the mother of all market corrections. It will be a traumatic lesson in the market principle that subsidies cause markets to misallocate resources, the systems principle that infinite growth cannot be sustained in a finite system, and the cybernetic principle that failure to take timely action to restore system equilibrium results in overshoot and collapse.17 In everyday language, we humans have used cheap oil subsidies to create economies and lifestyles that depend on the unsustainable consumption of Earth’s resources, our consumption already exceeds sustainable limits by a substantial margin, and if we do not take immediate corrective action, economic collapse is imminent.

The emphasis on loyalty and obedience to a strong ruler minimizes the role of responsible citizenship and, most particularly, the essential role of the citizen in holding those in positions of power publicly accountable for their actions. The imperial security story also draws attention away from threats far larger and more certain than terrorism: for example, climate change; the growing scarcity of freshwater; the chemical contamination of land, air, and water; the rapid spread of deadly viruses; the consequences of peak oil; and skyrocketing trade deficits. It results in misguided decisions to invade and occupy whole nations at the cost of tens of thousands of innocent civilian lives in a largely futile effort to capture a few hundred terrorists scattered in hidden networks. The misplaced priorities create instability, fuel terrorist recruiting, and waste resources Prisons of the Mind 245 needed to address the most serious and immediate threats to human security.


pages: 484 words: 136,735

Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis by Anatole Kaletsky

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bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Carmen Reinhart, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, global rebalancing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, paradox of thrift, peak oil, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Washington Consensus

Energy supply offers a striking example of the way that both geopolitical and economic conditions could be transformed by a change in thinking about economics and the relationships between politics and markets. When oil prices hit $150 a barrel17 shortly before the Lehman crisis, the financial markets debated the theory of peak oil, which stated that global oil production at the end of the twentieth century had reached its physically sustainable limits in the 1990s and was about to enter an inexorable decline. Some investors and policymakers combined the peak oil theory with the assumption of efficient markets to conclude that oil prices would rise dramatically—that the $150 per barrel oil price was only the beginning of a supercycle upswing. The good news, according to market fundamentalists, was that much higher oil prices would automatically create a long-term equilibrium between supply and demand in the energy markets, albeit at the cost of permanently weaker world economic activity and a huge transfer of resources from energy consumers to oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia.

If measures such as these were adopted by all energy-consuming governments—or even by the U.S. or European governments acting on their own—the market mechanism would become an extraordinarily effective tool for reducing long-term oil demand. Such measures would also shift the balance of geopolitical power from nondemocratic commodity countries that rely for their wealth and power on unproductive and environmentally damaging resource extraction to democratic nations whose wealth and power depends on innovation and technological progress. If this process were activated, the limits to growth and peak oil theories would never need to be tested. Instead, a large part of the world’s oil supplies would eventually be abandoned, almost worthless, in the ground, like the vast reserves of coal that remain underneath the soil of Britain, which were once believed to be the nation’s greatest treasure. The potential effect on energy production of drastically raising prices to oil consumers was famously summarized at the time of the 1974 energy shock by Shaikh Yamani, then the Saudi oil minister, who reminded his OPEC colleagues that if they got too greedy, the world would replace oil with other energy sources.

Morgan Stanley Morris, Charles Mortgage market reform Mudd, Daniel Myths burdening grandchildren national bankruptcy Naisbitt, John National Association of Realtors’ monthly index of home resale prices New Asian Hemisphere, The (Mahbubani) New Deal New Normal New Paradigm for Financial Markets, The (Soros) Newton, Sir Isaac Nixon, Richard Northern Rock collapse/response, Britain Obama, Barack/administration Capitalism 4.0 and critics of economic policies economic recovery and fiscal stimulus plan health care reform and hope and See also Economic recovery/2009 government response OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Oil use/industry dependence on oil and environment and government role in reduction oil shock (2008) OPEC reduction taxes and theory of peak oil true costs/benefits and unearned rent and See also Energy issues Opinions/polls O’Rourke, P. J. Outsourcing Ozone layer Pareto, Vilfredo Pareto Optimality Paris Commune Pascal, Blaise/Wager Paulson, Henry/financial crisis (2007-09) blunders by comparison to Andrew Mellon description/personality Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac seizure Goldman Sachs reputation and market fundamentalism and personal tax exemption post-crisis debate and short sellers and TARP and See also Bush, George W./ administration; Lehman Brothers collapse Pension/health entitlements People’s Daily, China Personalities importance Petronius, Gaius Phelps, Edmund Planck, Max Platform Companies (Platco) Plato “Policy Ineffectiveness Proposition” (Sargent/Wallace) Prince, Charles Protectionism Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, The (Weber) Public Choice theory Rajan, Ranghuram Ramo, Joshua Rand, Ann Rational Expectations Hypothesis (REH) Rationality concept Reagan, Ronald See also Thatcher-Reagan revolution Reflexivity description See also Theory of Reflexivity Reich, Robert Reinhart, Carmen Ricardian Equivalence theory, Barro Ricardo, David Robinson, Joan Rogoff, Kenneth Roosevelt, Franklin Rowthorn, Robert Rumsfeld, Donald Samuelson, Paul Sargent, Thomas Sarkozy, Nicolas Savings Schumpeter, Joseph Seabright, Paul Sen, Amartya Shakespeare Shiller, Robert Short sellers Simon, Herbert Simon, John Singh, Jaswant Skidelsky, Robert Slaughter, Anne-Marie Smith, Adam Capitalism 1 and ideas/impact “invisible hand” of competitive markets concept Smith, Vernon Solow, Robert Sorkin, Andrew Ross Soros, George boom-bust cycles and boom-bust cycles/Theory of Reflexivity “market fundamentalism” term/concept South Sea Bubble/effects Sovereign wealth funds Specialization Spence, Michael Stagflation 1970s causes/conditions for description threat of Stiglitz, Joe Stimulus.


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The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World by Russell Gold

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, American energy revolution, Bakken shale, Bernie Sanders, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, corporate governance, energy security, energy transition, hydraulic fracturing, margin call, market fundamentalism, Mason jar, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Project Plowshare, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Upton Sinclair

Hubbert is best remembered today as the father of peak oil theory. His argument was that the amount of oil in the world is finite and that as production increases, it will reach a peak and then begin to decline. Drawn on a graph, his forecast resembled a bell curve. In the late 1940s, he became interested in the question of how many years of oil supply could be pumped out of the earth and set out to figure it out. At the same time, he studied hydraulic fracturing and wrote a seminal paper on the new technology. The two interests were connected. If hydraulic fracturing could significantly increase the availability of oil and gas, it would make more oil available and push back the date of “Hubbert’s Peak.” But he was not impressed with Stanolind’s hydrafracs. In his famous 1956 paper outlining his ideas on peak oil, he noted that only about one-third of the oil in a reservoir was being recovered.

In 2011, three years after tiny Brigham flirted with financial end days, Norwegian oil giant Statoil bought it for $4.4 billion. (Bud Brigham owned about 2 percent of the outstanding shares.) By then, other oil shales had been discovered, including the giant Eagle Ford oil field in South Texas. And if fracking could unlock the oil in these areas, it could do the same around the world. Argentina, Russia, and the Middle East are all believed to have vast oil deposits in shales. In the mid-2000s, fears of “peak oil” were rife. The Olson 10-15 helped change the narrative. Crude remains a complex and constrained global market. Even if a dozen new Bakkens are discovered on the Great Plains, global oil prices are unlikely to budge much. But Brigham in the Bakken reinforced the notion that the industry could sink its drill bits into more oil than even the most dewy-eyed wildcatters had dreamed possible. And the industry has just begun to exploit the Bakken, Brigham said.

In his famous 1956 paper outlining his ideas on peak oil, he noted that only about one-third of the oil in a reservoir was being recovered. The rest was out of reach. New techniques, he wrote, “are gradually being improved so that ultimately a somewhat larger but still unknown fraction of the oil underground should be extracted.” He calculated that peak oil in the United States would occur between 1965 and 1970, and these new technologies would, at best, slow the decline on the far side of the bell curve. Despite familiarizing himself with hydraulic fracturing, Hubbert fundamentally misjudged its impact. US oil production did peak in 1970, as he predicted, and began to decline. By 2008, it was half the level of the peak. But then it started to increase again—in 2009 and each year for the next several years. We have left Hubbert’s bell curve, and it’s all due to the work begun by Farris and Fast.


pages: 538 words: 138,544

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better by Annie Leonard

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air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, dematerialisation, employer provided health coverage, energy security, European colonialism, Firefox, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, global supply chain, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, McMansion, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, supply-chain management, the built environment, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, Wall-E, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar

Powering machines and vehicles and heating our buildings takes 84 percent of the petroleum used every year.107 Petroleum itself is also an ingredient in a lot of Stuff: the remaining 16 percent of it goes into making plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers, as well as Stuff like crayons, bubble gum, ink, dishwashing liquid, deodorant, tires, and ammonia.108 Drilling, processing, and burning oil is dirty and damaging to the health of people everywhere, not to mention the health of the planet. The other big problem with oil is that we’re running out. “Peak oil” is the term used to describe the point at which we’ve used more oil than what’s left available to us because of technological and geological limitations. Once peak oil is reached, oil production declines. The International Energy Agency (IEA), which tracks energy supplies around the world, believes we may reach peak oil by 2020 but are likely to experience an “oil crunch” even earlier as demand outpaces supply and oil becomes increasing expensive to extract.109 In August 2009, Dr. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said that “global production is likely to peak in about ten years—at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.”110 After assessing eight hundred major oil fields around the world (three-quarters of global reserves), the IEA reported that oil is being depleted more quickly than the agency had estimated even a couple of years ago and concluded that current energy use patterns are “patently unsustainable.”

., 140–141 Madagascar, 2, 3, 35 Makeup, 76–77 Makower, Joel, 185, 186 Malaysia, 8 Mandela, Nelson, 222 Maniates, Michael, 112, 159, 239, 240 Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (Ocean Dumping Act), 98 Markey, Ed, 195 Marshall, James, 24 Mascara, 75 Massachusetts, toxics use reduction in, 218–219 Mazzochi, Tony, 85–86 McDonough, Bill, 52, 103 McKibben, Bill, 141 McRae, Glenn, 201 Mechanical pulping, 53 Medical waste, 185, 201–202 Mercury, 24, 25, 30, 34–35, 42, 54–55, 59, 61, 62, 69, 73, 74–75, 77, 79, 86, 91, 95, 203, 221–223, 257 Methane, 36, 209 Methyl-3-methoxyproprionate, 60 Methyl alcohol, 60 Methyl ethyl ketone, 60 Methyl isocyanate (MIC), 90, 91, 93 Mexico, 72, 135 Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti (National Labor Committee), 49, 50 Microchips, 59–61 Microsoft, 71, 203 Minerals, 20–29 Minerals Policy Institute, 253 Mines, Minerals and People, 253 Mining, 20–25, 35, 36, 59, 64, 75 Mirex, 79 Mitchell, Stacy, 121, 125 Mobil Chemical Company, 230–231 Mobile phone chargers, 103–104 Monitors, 61 Monocropping, 47 Montague, Peter, 211–212 Moosewood Cookbook (Katzen), 158 Morris, David, 34 MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People), 31–33 Mountaintop removal mining, 36, 254 Mozambique, 66 Mudslides, 4, 7 Muir, John, 7 Municipal solid waste (MSW), 185, 190–199 Municipal supply of discards (MSD), 190 Myers, John Peterson, 45 NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), 126, 136, 255 Nair, Shibu, 236 National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, 88 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 95 National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, 96 National Foreign Trade Council, 258 National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), 85, 96, 205 National Labor Committee, 49 National Marine Fisheries Service, 96 National Memorial for the Mountains, 36 National Ocean Service, 96 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 96 National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit (1991), 88 National Priorities Project (NPP), 243, 244 National Recycling Coalition (NRC), 196 National Weather Service, 96 Native Americans, 24, 196 New Economics Foundation, 152 New Leaf Paper, 56 Newsom, Gavin, 235–236 Newsweek, 234 Nickel, 59 Nigeria, 30–33, 35 Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, 33 Nike, 71, 108, 109, 165, 188 9/11 terrorist attacks, 147 Nitrates, 61 Nitric acid, 60, 61 Nitrogen dioxide, 65 Njehu, Njoki Njoroge, 39 No Dirty Gold campaign, 25 t-Nonachlor, 79 North Cascades National Park, 6–7, 10, 11 Obesity, 150 Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 96 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 96, 123 Office Depot, 9 Office of Environmental Quality, 95 Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, 96 Ogoni 9, 33 Ogoniland, Nigeria, 31–33 Oil, 29–35, 246, 254 Oil Pollution Act of 1990, 98 One Planet Living program, 40 Online shopping, 118–119 Only the Paranoid Survive (Grove), 58 Open-pit mining, 20–22 Oreskes, Michael, 173 Organic cotton, 51 Organic matter, in water, 11 O’Rourke, Dara, 62, 108–112, 117, 140 Orris, Peter, 84 Our Stolen Future (Colborn, Myers and Dumanoski), 45 Overproduction, 102 Overspent American, The (Schor), 167, 168 Overworked American, The (Schor), 156 Oxfam America, 21 Oxychlordane, 79 Pacific Institute, 17 Packaging, 194–198 Packard, Vance, 163, 194 Paglia, Todd, 10 Paolino & Sons, 224 Paper, 1, 8–9, 14, 51–56, 52–55 Papyrus, 52 Parchment, 52 Patagonia, 50–51 PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), 60, 73, 261 Peak oil, 29 Peek, Bobby, 223 PepsiCo, 196 Perceived obsolescence, 162–163 Perot, Ross, 126 Personal care products, 76–77, 264 Personal consumption expenditures, 146–147, 177–178 Pesticide Action Network Organic Cotton Briefing Kit, 47 Pesticides, 5, 46, 47, 79, 231, 262 Petroleum, 20, 29–34, 55, 230 PFCs (perfluorocarbons), 65, 79 PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), 73 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 224–227 Phosphoric acid, 60 Phosphorus, 59 Phthalates, 69, 71–72, 76, 124 Planned obsolescence, 160, 161–163 Plant-derived pharmaceuticals, 2–3 Plastics, 44, 194–195, 230–232 PVC (polyvinyl chloride), 42, 51, 61–63, 68–72, 124, 170–172, 184, 188, 257, 261, 265–267 Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, 98 Polyester, 44 Polymers, 44 POPs (persistent organic pollutants), 73 Poverty, 178–179 Prescription drugs, 2–3 Print-on-demand technology, 119 Printers, 203, 204 Privatization of water systems, 16 Processed chlorine free (PCF) process, 54, 56 Procter & Gamble, 112 Product Policy Institute (PPI), 198–199 Production, 44–105, 255–256 Progress, redefining, 242–243 Project Return to Sender, 225–226 Project Underground, 31 Puckett, Jim, 205, 210 Puget Sound, 11 Pulping, 53 Putnam, Robert, 149, 238–239 PVC (polyvinyl chloride), 42, 51, 61–63, 68–72, 124, 170–172, 184, 188, 257, 261, 265–267 Quante, Heidi, 226 Quinine, 2 Rainforest Action Network (RAN), 5, 254–255 Rainforests, 2–4, 30–31 REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) Act, 82, 83 ReBuilders Source, 200–201 Reciprocity, culture of, 238–239 Recycle-Bank, 229 Recycling, 9, 42, 52, 55, 56, 64, 66–67, 69–70, 190, 196, 197–199, 204–207, 216, 228–234, 266–267 Rendell, Edward, 225–226 Repairs, 192–194 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 and 1986, 98 Hazardous and Solid Wastes Amendments of 1984, 98 Resource curse, 37 Responsible Care program, 93 Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Sierra Leone, 26 Rivers, 10–11, 24, 25 Roane County, Tennessee, 35 Rocks, 20–29 Rogers, Heather, 228, 232 Rosario, Juan, 65 Rosy periwinkle, 2–3, 35 Rwanda, 27, 28 Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, 97 Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Campaign, 84 Salt water, 15 San Francisco, California, 235–236 Sarangi, Satinath, 91 Saro-Wiwa, Ken, 31–33 Schettler, Ted, 74, 78, 79 Schor, Juliet, 156, 167, 168, 246, 247 Scorecard, 94 Scott, Lee, 122 Sea levels, 13 Seattle, Washington, 133–134 Seinfeld, Jerry, 182 Seldman, Neil, 228 Sequestration, 2 Sewage systems, 12 Shaman Pharmaceuticals, 3 Sharing and borrowing, 43, 237–238 Shell Oil, 31–33 Shoe repairs, 194 Shopping, 147–148 Shopping malls, 124–125 Shower curtains, 69 Shukla, Champa Devi, 91 Sierra Leone, 26, 35 Silent Spring (Carson), 98 Silicon, 59 Silicon Valley, 57–58 Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, 63 Silicosis, 59 Silver, 59 SmartWay Transport program, 115 Smith, Alisa, 140–141 Smith, Kari, 165 Smith, Ted, 58 Sodium hydroxide, 60 Soesterberg Principles, 63 Soil, 7, 12 Solar power, 34, 36 South Africa, 23–24, 26, 221–223, 258 South Korea, 135 Soy inks, 55 Spain, 31, 71 Species extinction, 4 Speth, Gus, 167 Stainless steel, 44 Staples, 9 Steam engine, invention of, 101 Stevens, Brooks, 161, 163 Stewart, Howard, 225 Stoller Chemical, 219 Story of Stuff, The (film), 56, 147, 162 Suicide, teen, 150 Sulfonamides, 48 Sulfur dioxide, 65 Sulfuric acid, 48, 60 Superfund sites, 57, 97, 208 Supply chains, 107–113, 117, 256 Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative, 34, 231 Sustainable Forestry Initiative, 10 Sweatshops, 49–50, 51 Switkes, Glenn, 66 Synthetic materials, 44–45, 75, 78, 80 Take-back programs, 29, 206 Talberth, John, 242 Tantalum (coltan), 27–29, 35, 246 Tar sands, 254 Target, 118 Television, 167–168, 262 Tetramethylammonium, 60 Texaco, 30 Text messages, 57 Thor Chemicals, 221–223 Thoreau, Henry David, 147 Thornton, Thomas, 245 Timber plantations, 5 Tin, 59 Toluene, 55 Total economic value framework, 18 Totally chlorine free (TCF) process, 54, 56 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, 82, 97 Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty, 1987–2007 (United Church of Christ), 89 Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States (United Church of Christ), 88 Toxics Release Inventory, 93–94 Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA), 218 Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), 218–219 Toyota, 71, 108, 111 Toys, 74, 111 Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act, 136, 255 Trans-Atlantic Network for Clean Production, 63 Transition Towns, 141–142 Trees, 2–10, 21 Triclosan, 79 Trucks, 113–115, 123 Ts’ai Lun, 52 Tucker, Cora, 88 Turkey, 50, 157–158 Tweeting, 57 Uganda, 27 Underground (subsurface) mining, 20 Unhappiness/happiness, 149–155 UNICOR, 205 Union Carbide Corporation, 90–93 United Church of Christ (UCC), 88, 89 United Nations, 38, 146 Center for Trade and Development, 228 Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16 Environment Programme (UNEP), 75 Food and Agriculture Organization, 47 Human Development Index, 242 Human Poverty Index, 151 U.S.


pages: 289 words: 112,697

The new village green: living light, living local, living large by Stephen Morris

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back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cleantech, collective bargaining, Columbine, Community Supported Agriculture, computer age, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Firefox, index card, Indoor air pollution, invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Menlo Park, Negawatt, peak oil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review

We may also be uncomfortable with the kind of planet-destroying capitalism that has sprung up under the giant international corporations. But there is more – much more – we need to understand about how economics is impacting our personal and collective lives and the health of our planet. The economic consequences of globalization and late stage hyper-capitalism are reaching a crisis point that will be felt by most of us in the next few years “up close and personal” – probably even before we feel the immediate results of Peak Oil or global warming. Even if we are doing everything we can to live a lowimpact, sustainable lifestyle, we need to understand what’s happening in the US and world economies. The Big Picture We have lived most of our lives in a growth economy, and our society has been getting rich off the consumption of cheap fossil fuel. That “free ride” up to peak is just about over and a number of disturbing economic trends are appearing that spell big trouble for oil-dependent economies and for the average US citizen.

Treasury Bonds, we will see interest rates rise dramatically and we will be very lucky to escape a full-blown depression. 5. Government Debt Whatever happened to old-fashioned conservative fiscal responsibility? Thanks to George Bush and his imbecilic economic policies, we have now become the nation with both the largest personal debt and the largest government debt. Our military policies are hugely expensive as well as immoral and stupid. And as the effects of Peak Oil and Energy Descent begin to be felt, we will have little wealth available to invest in new solutions. If we are lucky enough to elect one of the hapless Democratic candidates for President and this person turns out to be a Franklin Roosevelt disguised as a centrist Democrat, he or she will have none of the maneuvering room, which Roosevelt had, to get us out of the economic depression that we may face in the not too distant future.

The garlic juice was so successful in treating infection that Russian army physicians employed the same technique in World War II along with garlic and onions given internally to increase resistance to infections. 146 chapter 6 : Small is Beautiful Debbie Bennett is a Transitions Weight and Lifestyle management coach as well as a nutritional counselor and vegan/raw food chef. Shelley Massa-Gooch teaches yoga. Think Globally, Eat Locally T by Debbie Bennett & Shelley Massa-Gooch hroughout the discussions on global warming and Peak Oil concerns, there is one aspect often overlooked. The continued use of massive quantities of petroleum in the production of synthetic fertilizers, in the farm machinery, and in the transportation of food across the globe is clearly unsustainable. Not only is oil a finite natural resource, but CO2 emissions from a petroleum-based food economy also contribute to air pollution, related health problems, and global warming.


pages: 311 words: 17,232

Living in a Material World: The Commodity Connection by Kevin Morrison

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barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, commodity trading advisor, diversified portfolio, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, energy security, European colonialism, flex fuel, food miles, Hernando de Soto, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, hydrogen economy, Long Term Capital Management, new economy, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, out of africa, peak oil, price mechanism, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, uranium enrichment, young professional

This relationship is not a strong foundation for oil consumers to secure long term supplies of oil. Consuming nations are making alternative arrangements by looking at other energy sources. This ambiguity about global oil reserves has given rise to the peak oil theory. Based on the number of recent large oil discoveries (not many), and the age of many of the existing oil fields in the Middle East (pretty old), the peak oil theorists may have a point. But the restrictions enforced by oil-producing nations on foreign companies and a desire not to maximize output has, for the short term at least, blurred the issue on peak oil. In his book Twilight in the Desert, Matthew Simmons, a Houston-based investment banker, warned that Saudi Arabian oil reserves – estimated to make up about a quarter of global oil reserves – could face serious and irreversible decline (Simmons, 2005).


pages: 313 words: 92,907

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are Thekeys to Sustainability by David Owen

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A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, delayed gratification, distributed generation, drive until you qualify, East Village, food miles, garden city movement, hydrogen economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, linear programming, McMansion, Murano, Venice glass, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, placebo effect, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, unemployed young men, urban planning, urban sprawl, walkable city

“The world will soon start to run out of conventionally produced, cheap oil,” Goodstein begins. In succeeding pages, he lucidly explains that humans have consumed about a trillion barrels of oil (that’s 42 trillion gallons), or what Goodstein estimates to be about half of the earth’s total recoverable supply; that a devastating global petroleum crisis will begin not when we have burned the last drop but when we have reached the halfway point—an event known as peak oil, or Hubbert’s Peak, after the geophysicist who first predicted it7—because at that moment, for the first time in history, the line representing supply will fall permanently through the line representing demand; that we will probably pass that point within the next few years, if we haven’t passed it already; that various well-established laws of economics are about to assert themselves, with disastrous repercussions for almost everything; and that “civilization as we know it will come to an end sometime in this century unless we can find a way to live without fossil fuels.”8 Extreme predictions have a history of turning out badly.

For more on Brazilian ethanol, see Bryce, Gusher of Lies, pp. 167-75. 4 Jeffrey D. Sachs, “Surging Food Prices and Global Stability,” Scientific American, June 2008. 5 Bob Davis and Douglas Belkin, “Food Inflation, Riots Spark Worries for World Leaders,” The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2008. 6 Keith Bradsher and Andrew Martin, “Hoarding Nations Drive Food Costs Ever Higher,” The New York Times, June 30, 2008. 7 For more on peak oil, see Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001) and any of a number of websites, among them www.hub-bertpeak.com and www.peakoil.com, as well as numerous other sources. 8 David Goodstein, Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), pp. 15, 123. 9 “Drowning in Oil” and “Why Cheap Oil May Be Bad,” The Economist, March 4, 1999. 10 Bryce, Gusher of Lies, pp. 36-37.

Drake, Edwin Dubai automobile dependence geography and economy growth and planning oil reserves and revenue real estate ownership recreational facilities shopping Dubner, Stephen J. Dukes, Jeffrey S. Dyson, Freeman Ebbesmeyer, Curtis Ecocities (Register) economics cheapness of gasoline corn exports and prices economic decline efficiency incentives of fossil-fuel alternatives gasoline prices, public transit usage and oil abundance and oil-production peak oil extraction feasibility oil price increases, repercussions of oil prices, emotional responses to perceived value of free or discounted goods prosperity public transit feasibility tolls and fees Economist Ehrlich, Paul Eiseley, Loren electric and plug-in hybrid automobiles electricity consumption cost to consumers future demand in New York City electricity generation blackout of 2003, diesel generators distributed generation Natural Bridges demonstrator project photovoltaic systems power grid wind turbines Electricity Journal Ellenbogen, Richard and Maryann embodied energy energy.


pages: 369 words: 98,776

The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas

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back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Haber-Bosch Process, ice-free Arctic, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, planetary scale, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

Again, this is to misunderstand the physical and ecological nature of the proposed boundaries: It makes no difference to the biosphere if humans run out of iron, for example. Nor does it make any difference if we use up all the cheaply extractable oil—as has recently become the concern of the “peak oil” crowd—except to the extent that humanity’s response to declining oil supplies, like burning more coal or extracting more tar sands, will negatively affect real planetary boundaries like climate change. But peak oil might also be a good thing if it adds to rising prices of fossil fuels sufficiently to encourage the faster uptake of low-and zero-carbon alternatives. Either way, the planetary boundaries are the metric by which humanity’s response to resource crunches should be judged—they are not concerned with resource shortages in and of themselves.

methane Mexico Michaels, Patrick Midgley, Thomas Mississippi River Missouri River “mitigation hierachy” Mitsubishi Molina, Mario Møller, Anders Moloney, Maurice Monbiot, George Monsanto monsoon Montreal Protocol, 1987 Mousseau, Tim mudflats Muller-Landau, Helene NASA Nasheed, President national parks National Science Academy, US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) National Trust National Water Carrier, Israel natural capital Nature Nature Conservancy, 1148 New Economics Foundation (NEF) New Forests New Internationalist NGOs Niger, River Nile, River nitrogen boundary: famine and; Haber-Bosch process; nitrogen ape; meeting the; human production of nitrogen, benefits of; nitrogen oxide emissions; efforts to control nitrogen pollution; microbial denitrification; wastewater, removing nitrates from; organic farming and fertilizer use; designing crops that are more efficient in nitrogen uptake North America: extinction in; “rewilding”; climate change in; GE in; land use in; wind power in Northern permafrost zone carbon store Norway no-till agriculture nuclear power; pollution/dangers of Nuon Renewables Obama, Barack ocean acidification; waste in; evolution of; animals depleted; boundary; life in acidic oceans; reef gaps; oceans of the future; carbon cycle and; ocean pH; sea creatures and; changes characteristics of seawater; fertilizing effect of; “calcification crisis”; ground-up olivine rock spread as beach nourishment; addition of lime directly into oceans; attention to; skeptics Open Atmospheric Science Journal Overpeck, Jonathan Oxford University ozone layer; boundary Pachauri, Rajendra Pakistan Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) palm-oil companies Papua New Guinea Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, U.K. PCBs Peacock, Jim peak oil Permian Period pesticides Petrovich, Leonid photosynthesis Pielke Jr., Roger Pinatubo eruption, 1991 planetary boundaries, concept of; expert group; summary of; what about population?; do not deal with resource constraints plastics Pliocene epoch polar bear pollution see under individual pollutant name population, human Porritt, Jonathan Pretty, Jules Prosperity Without Growth (Jackson) pumped storage reservoirs Quaternary Megafaunal Extinction rain forest Rasmussen, Lars Lokke Rational Optimist, The (Ridley) “RE<C” REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), 2007 Reagan, Ronald RealClimate blog “rebel organisms” Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) renewables “rewilding” Ricardo, David Ridley, Matt Rio Grande rivers: dams and reservoirs on; drying of; eutrophication; nitrogen in; ecological zones; agricultural use of water from; “gender benders” in; toxics in; see also under individual dam or reservoir name Roberts, Callum Rockström, Professor Johan Rowland, F.


pages: 207 words: 86,639

The New Economics: A Bigger Picture by David Boyle, Andrew Simms

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Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delayed gratification, deskilling, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, garden city movement, happiness index / gross national happiness, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, land reform, loss aversion, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, neoliberal agenda, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, peak oil, pensions crisis, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working-age population

Cuba bought no new weapons after the Soviet bloc collapsed in 1989 and, for 14 years, they struggled along as best they could without spares. But the economy began to recover a little after 2003, and that meant a little more money for spares and new equipment, in case President Bush took some kind of military action. Whatever anyone thinks about Fidel Castro’s rule, Cuba is a fascinating object lesson in the new economics. Cuba has already lived through the economic and environmental shocks that climate change and peak oil hold in store for the rest of the world. Its sudden loss of access to cheap oil imports and its economic isolation were so extreme in 1990 at the end of the Cold War, and its reaction to the shock was so contrary to orthodox approaches, and so successful, that it was dubbed in Washington the ‘anti-model’.1 Then oil imports dropped by over half. The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers dropped by 80 per cent.

Taken together, the Green New Deal urged a programme of re-regulating finance and taxation plus a huge transformational programme aimed at substantially reducing the use of fossil fuels and, in the process, tackling the unemployment and decline in demand caused by the credit crunch. It involved policies and new funding mechanisms that will reduce emissions and allow us to cope better with the coming energy shortages caused by peak oil. The importance was not so much the details of the plan, but its pattern. What the Green New Deal understood was that these crises needed to be tackled together, in a way that modern government finds difficulty doing. There is no point in tackling the crises alone, nor is it possible. Tackling climate change needs to be done alongside redistributing the wealth of the planet. Tackling energy poverty needs to be done alongside investing in a new kind of workforce.

(John Kenneth) 41, 51 gambling 14–15, 152 Gandhi, Mohandas (Mahatma) 18, 19, 21, 110, 112 Gates, Bill 141 Gates, Jeff 141–2 GDP (gross domestic product) 10, 32, 36–40, 42, 43, 54, 79 alternatives to 40–2, 43 bad measure of success 10, 37, 55, 78 INDEX global 141 UK 4 see also growth genetically modified crops see GM crops Germany 33, 50, 58 Gladwell, Malcolm 68 Global Barter Clubs 57, 58 global commons 113, 148 global currencies 56, 61, 120, 147–8 global greenback 61 global warming 3, 3–4, 115, 155 see also climate change globalization 8, 28, 143, 153 see also interdependence GM (genetically modified) crops 91, 117, 119, 140–1 Goetz, Stephan 124 gold standard 8, 143 Good Life, The (BBC sitcom) 69 goods, local 19, 109, 110 Goodwin, Fred 142 government borrowing 37–8, 49–50, 58, 62, 141 governments 2, 28, 116, 129, 158 creating money 58–9, 62, 90 propping up banking system 6, 7 Graham, Benjamin 120 Grameen Bank 26, 143–4, 153 Great Barrington (Massachusetts) 57, 151–2, 153 Great Depression 3, 36, 57 green bonds 157 green collar jobs 106, 157 Green Consumer Guide, The (Elkington and Hailes, 1988) 26, 69, 72 green economics 23, 100, 117 green energy 26, 97, 102–3, 114, 156, 157 Green New Deal 156–8 green taxation 153 greenhouse gas emissions 3–4, 115, 148 gross domestic product see GDP Gross National Happiness 43 growth 2, 11, 12–13, 23, 36–7, 38–40, 42, 43 185 bad measure of success 10, 158 maximizing 25 and poverty 4, 39–40, 81–2 and progress 39, 78 wealth defined in terms of 32 and well-being 4–5 see also GDP guilds 80, 80–1 happiness 12, 18, 29, 41, 43, 45–6 Happy Planet Index 32–3, 34, 43 Hard Times (Dickens, 1854) 36 HBOS 7 health 46, 72, 78, 96, 115, 129 health costs 117 healthcare 13, 33, 44 hedge funds 5, 7, 97, 120 Helsinki (Finland) 102 HIV/AIDS 70, 111, 135, 148 Honduras 139, 141 house prices 36, 46, 79, 83, 91, 126–7, 151 London 53, 54, 91 see also mortgages Howard, Ebenezer 105, 158 HSBC 5 human interaction 67–8, 74 human needs 20, 24, 67, 86 human rights 110–11, 116, 147 ill-health 35, 38, 46 ‘illth’ 29, 35 IMF (International Monetary Fund) 27, 82, 91, 135–6, 139, 143, 147, 147–8 incomes 24, 37, 43, 44, 78, 79, 81 and happiness 45–6 inequalities 37, 81, 82, 142 of poorest 4, 81, 82, 112, 142 Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare see ISEW India 82, 91, 110, 119, 136, 139–40, 153 indigenous knowledge 82, 117 inequality 4, 81–2, 96, 112–13, 116 inflation 8, 22, 58, 90 information technology 58, 59, 115 186 THE NEW ECONOMICS intellectual property 82, 91, 110, 113, 116, 117 interdependence 111–20, 135–8 Keynes on 19, 109, 110, 115, 143 see also globalization interest 8, 11, 11–12, 58, 77, 157 interest rates 144, 144–5 interest-free money 43, 73, 84, 90 intergenerational equity 25, 117 international bankruptcy 147 International Monetary Fund see IMF investment 14, 45, 53, 60, 104, 118, 137–8 ethical 26, 69–70, 74, 154 involvement 71, 75, 128–30 Iraq 49, 60, 136 ISEW (Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare) 40–1, 43, 78 Islamic banking 58, 90, 146 islands, small 31–2, 33–4 Italy 33, 119–20, 138 Ithaca hours currency 57, 58 It’s a Wonderful Life (film, Capra, 1946) 38 Jacobs, Jane 56, 110, 126 Jaffe, Bernie 126 Japan 26, 50, 91, 113, 119, 128 Jefferson, Thomas 18, 20 Jersey 52, 53 Jones, Allan 103 Jubilee Debt campaign 137 junk bonds 1, 142–3 just-in-time 123–4, 155 Keynes, John Maynard 2, 13–14, 15, 17, 21, 37, 55 on interdependence 19, 109, 110, 115, 143 international currency 61, 120 on local production 19, 109, 110 on ‘practical men’ as ‘slaves of some defunct economist’ 10, 35, 67, 87, 159 Keynesian economics 8, 18, 22, 27, 28 Kinney, Jill 130 Knowsley (Merseyside) 104 Kropotkin, Peter 18 Krugman, Paul 52 land 19, 82, 96 land tax 43 landfill 97, 98, 100, 107 Layard, Richard 41 Lehigh Hospital (Pennsylvania) 129 Letchworth Garden City (Hertfordshire) 105 lets (local exchange and trading systems) 57 liberalism 18, 19, 27 Lietaer, Bernard 56, 61, 120 life 19, 29, 55, 69, 86, 91 need for meaning 42, 75 life expectancy 31, 32–3, 82 life poverty 82–3 life satisfaction 31, 33, 41, 42 Lima (Peru) 130–1 Linton, Michael 57, 58 Living Economy, The (Ekins, 1986) 24–5 LM3 (Local Money 3) 60, 104–5 loans see debt Local Alchemy programme 152–3 local circulation of money 103–5, 107, 124, 151–2 local currencies 26, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 151–2, 153 local economies 26, 81, 85, 86, 105–7, 118, 124, 133 local exchange and trading systems (lets) 57 local food 2, 118, 119–20, 151 local governments 6, 44, 60 local life 4, 81, 158 Local Money 3 see LM3 local production 109, 116, 118 local savings schemes 61 local shops 75, 82–3, 104, 124, 124–5, 126, 151 supermarkets and 80, 105, 125 local wealth 14, 53–4 localization 155–6, 159 London 52, 53, 61, 97, 102, 103 house prices 53, 54, 91 traffic speed 65–6 INDEX London Underground 147 Lutzenberger, Jose 26 Macmillan Cancer Care 88–9 McRobie, George 22, 24 mainstream 4–5, 26, 154, 159–60 see also economics Malawi 135–6, 137 Malaysia 51 Manchester United 155 manipulated debt 139–41 markets 10, 12, 51, 70, 158 financial 1–2, 52, 53, 55, 138, 154–5 free 22, 85, 112–13 new economics and 67, 72–5, 85 Marsh Farm estate (Luton) 104–5, 152–3 Maslow, Abraham 67 materialism 12, 46–7 Max-Neef, Manfred 24 Maxwell, Robert 143 MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) 39, 136 Mead, Margaret 129 meaning, need for 42, 75 measurement problem 36–40 measuring 12, 42, 55, 85 success 2, 8, 10, 43, 44, 55, 154, 156, 158 value 10, 15, 29, 53, 59, 115 wealth 32, 37–40, 53–4 well-being 4, 18, 32–3, 34, 43 mechanics, Cuban 95–6, 97 medieval economics 78–80, 80–1 mega-rich 120, 141, 142 mental health 4, 35, 36, 46, 68, 83 Merck 99 micro-credit 26, 143–4, 145, 146, 151, 153 Milkin, Michael 142 Millennium Development Goals see MDGs minimum wage 92 misery, of UK young people 35–6 Mishan, E.J. 40 Mogridge, Martin 65–6, 74 Mondragon (Spain), cooperatives 153 money 8, 11, 13, 18, 27, 29, 36, 95 187 as a bad measure 10, 15, 18, 53, 59, 90, 143, 154 creating 7, 56–7, 58–9, 84, 90, 120, 138, 147 designed for money markets 53 economics and 25, 127 externalities 35 and life 55, 86, 154, 159 local circulation 103–5, 107, 124, 151–2 means to an end 15 new economics view 15, 59–60, 89 new ways of organizing 56–60 re-using 103–5 replacing with well-being 42 slowing down 51–2, 60 too little 57 types of 14–15, 57, 59, 120 and value 10, 15, 53, 59 and wealth 15, 19, 32, 38, 78 and well-being 18, 21, 81 see also GDP; growth; price; trickle down money flows 26, 50–2, 60, 103–5, 107, 124, 136–8 money markets 1–2, 52, 53, 55, 138, 154–5 money poverty 81–2 money system 7–8, 50–6, 60 monopolies 8, 20, 83, 84–6, 89–90, 125–6, 133, 146 Monsanto 85, 140 moral philosophy 12, 19, 72–3 morality 8, 18, 28, 74, 115 economics and 12, 19, 22 Morris, William 18, 78, 151 mortgages 1, 4, 5–6, 6, 7, 46, 91 working to pay 46, 68, 73, 77–8, 79, 81, 83, 84, 89, 126–7, 140 see also house prices motivations 4–5, 11, 67–9, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75 multinationals 14, 61, 84–5, 90, 137–8, 139, 143 multiple currencies 58, 59–60, 60, 90 multiplier effect 103–5 Murdoch, Rupert 52 188 THE NEW ECONOMICS Myers, Norman 117 Nanumaea (Tuvalu) 34 national accounting 37–8, 38–9 national debt 49–50, 83, 84, 139, 141 national grid 102, 106 National Health Service see NHS natural capital 3, 99 natural resources 22, 40, 43, 84, 97–8 needs 20, 24, 25, 67, 75, 86 basic 25, 89, 91–2, 115 nef (the new economics foundation) 24, 26, 45, 71, 104, 131–2, 145 Local Alchemy programme 152–3 see also Happy Planet Index; LM3 ‘neo-liberal’ policies 8, 27–8 Nether Wallop (Hampshire) 80, 81 The Netherlands 58, 106, 138 New Century 5 New Deal for Communities 152 New Deal (US) 157 new economics 2–3, 9–10, 18–19, 28–9, 59, 153–4, 159–60 Cuba as object lesson 96–7 history of 9–10, 18–19, 21–7 and the mainstream 26 as new definition of wealth 15 principles 35, 157–8 new economics foundation see nef New York City 52, 128 News Corporation 52 NHS (National Health Service) 87, 114, 131 Northern Rock 6 Nottingham 35 Nu-Spaarpas experiment 106 Obama, Barack 154, 157 obsolescence, built-in 98, 100, 101 odious debt 146 offshore assets 136–7 offshore financial centres 52–3, 61 oil 3, 96, 115, 117, 155 Oil Legacy Fund 157 orchards 111, 112, 115, 124 organic food 26 Ostrom, Elinor 127 out-of-town retailing 75, 80, 123, 132 overconsumption 32, 40, 44, 113 Owen, Robert 57 ownership 11, 46, 60, 91, 118, 156 paid work 87–9, 92 palm oil 112 Partners in Health 130–1 peak oil 3, 96, 117, 155 Pearce, David 25–6, 98, 115 Peasants’ Revolt (1381) 18 pensions 7, 44, 61, 73, 155 people, as assets 15, 57–8, 128–9, 130, 131 permit trading 45, 117–18, 148 personal carbon allowances 45, 117–18 personal debt 7, 36, 83–4, 91, 140, 141 Petrini, Carlo 119–20 Pettifor, Ann 135, 137 philanthropy 130, 133 policy makers 28, 35, 73, 87, 90 assumptions of 67, 68, 73, 128 Keynes on 10, 35, 67, 87, 159 political agenda 42–7 politicians 11, 54, 159 politics, new 159 pollution 10, 35, 37, 40, 98, 112, 114 by GM genes 91, 117, 119 poor 29, 145–6 Porritt, Jonathon 23 post-autistic economics 9–10, 71–2 poverty 4, 23, 35, 79–80, 81–2, 127 economic system and 13–14, 18, 29, 81–2, 154 interdependence leading to 111–15 reduction 39–40, 51–2, 61, 116, 124–5 poverty gap 4, 52–3, 78, 82 power 10, 12, 25, 28, 53, 141–2 corporate 20, 28, 85 monopoly power 83, 89–90, 125–6, 146 power relationships 29, 114 price 10, 67, 72, 73, 115, 153 Price, Andrew 132 INDEX prices 80, 156, 158 Pritchard, Alison 23 product life cycle 97–8, 101 professionals 130, 132, 133, 159 profits 12, 13, 99 progress 36, 37–8, 39, 43, 44, 77–8, 81–2, 84 Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph 120 psychology, economics and 67–8, 71, 72–3 public goods 148 public sector commissioning 131–2, 133 public services 45, 74, 127–32, 158 public transport 66, 74 ‘purchasing power parity’ 81 Putnam, Robert 126–7, 127–8 189 retirement 46, 73 see also pensions rewarded work 88 rewards 7, 8, 11, 25, 92, 141, 142 roads 66, 115 Robertson, James 17, 22, 23, 55, 145 Rockefeller, John D. 28 Roman Catholic church 19, 21, 117 Roosevelt, Eleanor 96 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano 157 Rotterdam (The Netherlands) 106 rubbish 97–105 Rupasingha, Anil 124 Rushey Green surgery (London) 131 Ruskin, John 17–18, 18, 29, 35, 78, 81 Russia 110 qoin system 58 rainforests 4, 10, 111, 112 ‘rational man’ assumption 10, 71 RBS 142 re-use 97, 99, 100–5 Reagan, Ronald 22, 27 real money, generating 120 ‘real’ wealth 2, 32, 36–40 reciprocity 44, 128, 128–30, 133 see also co-production recycling 97, 98, 100–1, 105–6, 106–7 redistribution 19, 27, 52, 96 regeneration 27, 104, 105, 107, 116, 124, 128 regional currencies 58, 59, 60 regulation 129, 156 competition 85, 113, 125, 126, 133 financial sector 53, 85, 157 relationships 4, 69, 83, 128–30 remittances 137 Rendell, Matt 33 renewable energy 26, 97, 102, 102–3, 114, 156, 157 repair 97, 98, 101, 105, 107 resources 32, 43, 97–8, 99, 100–1, 114, 158 local 25, 115 natural 22, 40, 43, 84, 97–8 St Louis (Missouri) 131 Samoa 34 Sane (South African New Economics) 58 saving seeds 91, 117, 119, 141 savings 7, 46, 73, 90, 157 schools 131 Schor, Juliet 83 Schumacher, E.F.


pages: 342 words: 86,256

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck

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A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, car-free, carbon footprint, congestion charging, David Brooks, edge city, Edward Glaeser, Enrique Peñalosa, food miles, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, if you build it, they will come, intermodal, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Florida, skinny streets, smart cities, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, transit-oriented development, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

But Toronto cuts that number in half again, as does Sydney—and most European cities use only half as much as those places. Cut Europe’s number in half and you end up with Hong Kong.20 If ten Hong Kongers were to move to New York with the goal of keeping their gasoline consumption unchanged, nine of them would have to stay at home. These numbers become especially meaningful as we consider the impacts of peak oil prices in the years ahead. What city, or country, is likely to be the most competitive in the face of $200-per-barrel oil? Paris is one place that has determined that its future hangs upon its reducing its auto dependence. The city has recently decided to create twenty-five miles of dedicated busways, introduced twenty thousand shared “city bikes” in 1,450 locations, and committed to removing fifty-five thousand parking spaces from the city every year for the next twenty years.

There are of course some (rather horrid tower-in-the-parking-lot) exceptions, but most communities with these densities are also organized as traditional, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, the sort of accommodating environment that entices people out of their cars. Everything above that is icing on the cake. That means that, while Americans might have a long way to go to match European or Asian sustainability, a little effort can get us a lot closer. But not every American is motivated by concerns about climate change or peak oil and, even among those of us who are, it is not always easy to turn that intention into action. Certainly, unless we hit a national crisis of unprecedented severity, it is hard to imagine any argument framed in the language of sustainability causing many people to modify their behavior. So what will? The gold standard of quality-of-life rankings is the Mercer Survey, which carefully compares global cities in the ten categories of political stability, economics, social quality, health and sanitation, education, public services, recreation, consumer goods, housing, and climate.

American Vertigo: On the Road from Newport to Guantanamo. London: Gibson Square, 2006. Lutz, Catherine, and Anne Lutz Fernandez. Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Mapes, Jeff. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2009. Newman, Peter, Timothy Beatley, and Heather Boyer. Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2009. Nordahl, Darrin. My Kind of Transit: Rethinking Public Transportation in America. Chicago: The Center for American Places, 2008. Owen, David. Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability. New York: Penguin, 2009. Rybczynski, Witold. City Life: Urban Expectations in a New World. New York: Scribner, 1995. _____.

Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years by Richard Watson

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Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Black Swan, call centre, carbon footprint, cashless society, citizen journalism, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, deglobalization, digital Maoism, disintermediation, epigenetics, failed state, financial innovation, Firefox, food miles, future of work, global supply chain, global village, hive mind, industrial robot, invention of the telegraph, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, linked data, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Northern Rock, peak oil, pensions crisis, precision agriculture, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, self-driving car, speech recognition, telepresence, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing test, Victor Gruen, white flight, women in the workforce, Zipcar

In the long term, I believe that energy and general resource-scarcity issues will be solved through technology; but in the meantime, energy (along with climate change and sustainability) will dominate politics. Most studies predict that we will hit peak oil production by 2015, or 2020 at the latest. Supplies will run out around 2050. This will be followed by peak gas and peak coal. As a result, nuclear power is firmly back on the political agenda, an inconceivable thought 20 years ago. Widescale use of wind and particularly solar power is also being seriously investigated, although it is hard to see how either can successfully replace oil, coal and gas without a substantial change in the way energy is used. According to Richard Heinberg, a US academic and author of several books on the end of cheap oil, we should all be planning for another 1930s-style economic depression. A report produced for the US Department of Energy says that when peak oil does hit, we will experience abrupt and revolutionary change.

The environment It is hard not to mention environmental issues like climate change and global warming in the context of important trends for the next 50 years. While climate is influencing — and will continue to influence — how governments, corporations and individuals think and act, I would suggest that it won’t be the only game in town. Climate change is a present concern but this could change very fast if a more immediate threat — like an economic collapse or a global flu pandemic — comes along. Equally, we are facing other issues including peak oil, peak coal, peak gas, peak water, peak uranium and even peak people (a severe shortage of workers in many parts of the world). The finite nature of natural resources is not necessarily a problem, although it will require a profound shift in attitudes and behavior (and technology) to overcome. Hence sustainability in a more general sense and the mantra of reuse, recycle and reduce will be something we’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future.


pages: 142 words: 45,733

Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis by Benjamin Kunkel

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anti-communist, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, David Graeber, declining real wages, full employment, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, late capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, peak oil, price stability, profit motive, savings glut, Slavoj Žižek, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration

The classical economists long ago foresaw that an economy defined by constant expansion would one day give way to what John Stuart Mill called the “stationary state.” The idea has gained a new currency in Marxist writing of recent years, and in its contemporary version tends to locate the limits to growth in the depletion of natural resources or in the exhaustion of productivity gains as the share of manufacturing in the world economy shrinks and that of services expands. Of course, peak oil or soil exhaustion might easily coincide with faltering productivity. Harvey doesn’t spell out why growth must have a stop, and the outlines of an ecologically stable and politically democratic future socialism remain as blurry in his later work as they do almost everywhere else. At the moment Marxism seems better prepared to interpret the world than to change it. But the first achievement is at least due wider recognition, which with the next crisis, or subsequent spasm of the present one, it may begin to receive.

The maxim L’âge d’or était l’âge où l’or ne régnait pas is wrong only in its past tense: the Golden Age will be when gold—or rather capital—no longer rules. Of course today any thought of a golden future for humanity is all but stifled before utterance by ecological dread. So it should be added that full employment wouldn’t win us much unless accompanied by the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, peak oil mitigation, and the conservation of forests, topsoil, fisheries, and so on. Full employment and ecological sustainability might even complement one another, since full employment on an international scale would raise the price of raw materials and fossil energy, and in this way eventually, though not at first, encourage their conservation. And at least until the (perhaps impossible) transition to a sustainable energy regime endowed with the same transportation capacities as our own doomed fossil system, full employment would promote the localization of production by raising fuel costs.


pages: 158 words: 16,993

Citation Needed: The Best of Wikipedia's Worst Writing by Conor Lastowka, Josh Fruhlinger

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airport security, citation needed, en.wikipedia.org, jimmy wales, peak oil, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billie_Thomas Calculator spelling In Portuguese, 50135 (upside down ‘SEIOS’), means ‘breasts’, and is directly analogous to the English “58008/BOOBS”. If all of the world’s ten-year-old boys could gather together and realize that no matter what our color or religion we all like boob jokes, there would be no more wars. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calculator_spelling Cornucopian In the “peak oil” debate, the views of those labeled as cornucopian are very diverse, ranging from the simplistic “we will never run out of oil” to pessimistic views such as “we might transition to alternatives fast enough to barely avoid the collapse of civilization”. If we may, let’s focus on “the collapse of civilization.” It’s pretty much the lowest that mankind could sink, aside from extinction. But if you’re “barely avoiding” it, you’ve probably already conceded the seemingly inevitable collapse in some areas of your life.


pages: 268 words: 74,724

Who Needs the Fed?: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America's Central Bank by John Tamny

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Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, Carmen Reinhart, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, NetJets, offshore financial centre, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Uber for X, War on Poverty, yield curve

We didn’t suffer “oil shocks” in the 2000s; we suffered the weak-dollar policies of President Bush, and during his first term, of President Barack Obama. In a replay of modern history, Bartley added, “When the price of oil shot up, the most fashionable sectors of American opinion persuaded themselves the world was running out of energy.” We heard much the same in the 2000s as the silly notion of “peak oil” became popular. Without detracting from the impressive U.S. fracking advances in the oil patch, just as the supply argument wasn’t true in the 1970s, it also wasn’t true in the 2000s. Evidence supporting this claim comes from Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman, author of a laudatory history of fracking, The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters. Zuckerman also promoted the supply/demand narrative about the oil price, but what he left out is that in the seven years leading up to July 2008, when crude hit a nominal all-time high, the price of a barrel of oil in euros rose 198 percent, in Swiss francs 216 percent, and in dollars 459 percent.15 What these numbers unquestionably tell us is the oil-price scarcity narrative that prevailed in the 2000s was almost wholly a dollar story (the euro and franc were declining versus gold, too, albeit not as much as the dollar).

., 29–30, 33, 103 Morgan, Junius Spencer, 29–30 Morgan Stanley, 45, 123, 127, 130, 151 Morgenthau, Henry, 167, 168 mortgage-backed securities, 150–52 mortgage lending practices, 119–20, 127 Mundell, Robert, 155, 158 Nelson, Richard, 159–60 NetJets, 85–86, 98 NetQoS, 123–24 The New Tycoons (Kelly), 126 NeXT Computer, 30 Nikkei index, 152, 159 1984 Summer Olympics, 34 1989 (album), 10 Nixon, Richard, 69–70, 92, 116, 117, 169 Nixon’s Economy (Matusow), 169–70 Norman, Montagu, 167 Noyce, Richard, 31 Obama, Barack, 51, 61, 71, 72, 154, 171–72 Ohio State University, 17–18, 19 oil fracking boom, 66–67, 73–75 and global economy, 66–67, 74–75 gold standard and the price of oil, 68–72 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC), 68–69, 70 price declines and rising cost of credit, 146–48 O’Neill, Paul, 118 Oracle, 143 Pacific Research Institute, 53 Patriot Act, 119 Paul, Ron, 94 Paulson & Co., 44–45 Paulson, Henry, 172 Paulson, John, 44–46, 48, 120, 127 Payback (Fischel), 38 PayPal, 28 “peak oil,” 71 Pellegrini, Paolo, 120 Pelosi, Nancy, 51, 106, 128, 150 Phillipps, Cassandra, 27 Phillips, A. W., 156 Phillips curve, 156 Pipes, Sally, 53 political class, 51–52, 58–59 Ponnuru, Ramesh, 138–39 Popular Economics (Tamny), 3, 4, 48–49, 67, 81, 142, 143 price cutting, 73 private air transportation, 85–86, 98 private-sector investment, 78 production and money supply, 136 property development, 33, 35–37 quantitative easing (QE) program, 149–54, 172 RadioShack, 57 Rasmussen, Bill, 109 Reagan, Ronald, 49–50, 68–69, 71, 72, 171, 172 recessions, 142, 147, 153 recruiting of college athletes, 15–21 Reds (film), 23 Reid, Harry, 51 Reynolds International, 54 The Rise and Fall of Monetarism (Smith), 121 Rivals recruit rankings, 15–18, 19–20 the Roaring Twenties, 94–95 robots and job creation, 176–80 Rock, Arthur, 31 Romney, Mitt, 126 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 61, 142, 167–69 Rothbard, Murray, 89, 92 Rubio, Marco, 59 The Russians (Smith), 77 Ryan, Paul, 51, 150 Saban, Nick, 79, 129 Sampler, Jeffrey, 105 Sam’s Club, 105, 106–7 San Francisco 49ers, 17 Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, 119, 124 Sarkisian, Steve, 16, 20 saving money, 57–58, 77, 88, 112, 149, 176 Say’s Law, 94–95 Schlumberger, 73 Schumpeter, Joseph, 28, 123 Secrets of the Temple (Greider), 121 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 38 Security Pacific Bank, 34–35, 101, 108, 129, 164–65 The Seven Fat Years (Bartley), 70, 157–58 Shampoo (film), 23 Shandling, Garry, 24 Shanghai, 138 Sharma, Ruchir, 151 She’s Gotta Have It (film), 109 Shlaes, Amity, 167–69 Shula, Mike, 79, 129 Shultz, George, 170 Silicon Valley, 27–32, 143 Smith, Adam, 65, 67, 77, 119, 140, 142–43 Smith, David, 121 Smith, Hedrick, 77 Smith, Robert H., 34–37, 108, 111, 129, 162, 164–65, 173 Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 142 Snow, John, 118 Solyndra, 59, 60 Soviet Union, 76–78, 80, 94 Splash (film), 22–23 Stanford University, 16–17 stimulus spending, 53, 141 student debt, 173–74 substitution effect and traditional banking alternatives, 105, 106–7 supply-side economics, 48–55, 79–80, 92–94, 141, 144 surge pricing, 12–14, 106–7, 165–66 Swanson, Bret, 143 Swift, Taylor, 9–12, 13, 162–63 Switzer, Barry, 18–19 tariffs, 3 taxes as barrier to economic growth and prosperity, 3 and Laffer curves, 50, 54–55 Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 142 and supply-side economics, 49–51, 79–80, 92–93, 141 technology innovation in Austin, Texas, 123–25 robots and job creation, 176–80 Ten Days That Shook the World (Reed), 23 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Texas Instruments, 155 The Theory of Money and Credit (von Mises), 87 Thiel, Peter, 28–29, 59, 150, 168 This Time Is Different (Reinhart and Rogoff), 168 Thwaites, Thomas, 64–65 Timiraos, Nick, 147, 148 toasters, 64–65 Town & Country (film), 23–24, 28 Townsend, Robert, 109 Trammel, Joel, 123–25 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), 172–73 Truffaut, François, 24 Trump, Donald, 33–37 The 21st Century Case for Gold (Gilder), 68 The Twilight of Sovereignty (Wriston), 109 2008 financial crisis, 106, 110 Uber and “easy credit,” 115–16 and the “sharing economy,” 57 and surge pricing, 12–14, 106–7, 165–66 Ueberroth, Peter, 34–35 unicorn companies, 28, 148 University of Michigan, 16–17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 79, 103, 127, 148 University of Southern California (USC), 18–20 University of Washington, 20 USAA, 108 U.S.


pages: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

The stranglehold that the rentier class (for example, landlords and owners of mineral, agricultural and intellectual property rights) has over so-called ‘natural’ assets and resources allows it to create and manipulate scarcities and to speculate on the value of the assets they control. This power has long been in evidence. It is now generally accepted, for example, that almost all famines over the last 200 years have been socially produced and not naturally ordained. Every time rising oil prices provoke a chorus of commentary on the natural limits of ‘peak oil’ it is followed by a period of rueful remorse as it is realised that it was the speculators and the oil cartel who together pushed the oil prices up. The ‘land grabs’ now going on around the world (particularly in Africa) have more to do with escalating competition to monopolise the food chain and resources with an eye to extracting rents than with fear of impending natural limits to food production and mineral extractions.

It has been left to some of the poorer and immediately threatened countries, like Bolivia and the Maldives, to plead the cause of climate justice. We are therefore not in a position to find out if capital could accomplish the massive adaptations required to deal with this problem effectively. The bulk of the evidence now available does not support the thesis of an impending collapse of capitalism in the face of the environmental dangers. We will not run out of energy in spite of ‘peak oil’; there is land and water enough to feed an expanding population for many years to come even in the face of exponential growth. If there are specific impending scarcities of this or that resource, we are smart enough to find substitutes. Resources are technological, economic and cultural evaluations of use values in nature. If there seem to be natural shortages then we can simply change our technology, our economy and our cultural beliefs.

283 Maddison, Angus 227 Maghreb 174 Malcolm X 291 Maldives 260 Malthus, Thomas 229–30, 232–3, 244, 246, 251 Manchester 149, 159 Manhattan Institute 143 Mansion House, London 201 manufacturing 104, 239 Mao Zedong 291 maquilas 129, 174 Marcuse, Herbert 204, 289 market cornering 53 market economy 198, 205, 276 marketisation 243 Marshall Plan 153 Martin, Randy 194 Marx, Karl 106, 118, 122, 142, 207, 211 and alienation 125, 126, 213 in the British Museum library 4 on capital 220 conception of wealth 214 on the credit system 239 and deskilling 119 on equal rights 64 and falling profits 107 and fetishism 4 on freedom 207, 208, 213 and greed 33 ‘industrial reserve army’ 79–80 and isolation of workers 125 labour theory of value 109 and monetary system reforms 36 monopoly power and competition 135 reality and appearance 4, 5 as a revolutionary humanist 221 and social reproduction 182 and socialist utopian literature 184 and technological innovation 103 and theorists of the political left 54 and the ‘totally developed individual’ 126–7 and world crises xiii; Capital 57, 79–80, 81, 82, 119, 129, 132, 269, 286, 291–2 The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 269, 286 Grundrisse 97, 212–13 Theories of Surplus Value 1 Marxism contradiction between productive forces and social relations 269 ‘death of Marxism’ xii; ecologically sensitive 263 and humanism 284, 286, 287 ‘profit squeeze’ theory of crisis formation 65 traditional Marxist conception of socialism/ communism 91 Marxists 65, 109 MasterCard Priceless 275 Mau Mau movement 291 Melbourne 141 merchants 67 and industrial capital 179 price-gouging customers 54 and producers 74–5 Mercosur 159 Mexican migrants 115, 175, 195–6 Mexico 123, 129, 174 Mexico City riots (1968) x microcredit 194, 198 microfinance 186, 194, 198, 211 Microsoft 131 Middle East 124, 230 Milanovic, Branko 170 military, the capacities and powers 4 dominance 110 and technology 93, 95 ‘military-industrial complex’ 157 mind-brain duality 70 mining 94, 113, 123, 148, 239, 257 MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 292 Mitchell, David: Cloud Atlas 264 Mitchell, Timothy 122 Modern Times (film) 103 Mondragon 180 monetarism xi monetary wealth and incomes, inequalities in (1920s) x 1071 monetisation 44, 55, 60, 61, 62, 115, 192–3, 198, 235, 243, 250, 253, 261, 262 money abandonment of metallic basis of global moneys 30, 37, 109 circulation of 15, 25, 30–31, 35 coinage 15, 27, 29, 30 commodification of 57 commodity moneys 27–31 creation of 30, 51, 173, 233, 238–9, 240 credit moneys 28, 30, 31, 152 cyber moneys 36, 109–10 electronic moneys 27, 29, 35, 36, 100 and exchange value 28, 35, 38 fiat 8, 27, 30, 40, 109, 233 gap between money and the value it represents 27 global monetary system 46–7 love of money as a possession 34 measures value 25, 28 a moneyless economy 36 oxidisation of 35 paper 15, 27, 29, 30, 31, 37, 40, 45 power of 25, 36, 59, 60, 62, 65–66, 131–6, 245, 266 quasi-money 35 relation between money and value 27, 35 represented as numbers 29–30 and social labour 25, 27, 31, 42, 55, 88, 243 and the state 45–6, 51, 173 storage of value 25, 26, 35 the US dollar 46–7 use value 28 money capital 28, 32, 59, 74, 142, 147, 158, 177, 178 money laundering 54, 109 ‘money of account’ 27–8, 30 monopolisation 53, 145 monopoly, monopolies 77 and competition 131–45, 218, 295 corporate 123 monetary system 45, 46, 48, 51 monopoly power 45, 46, 51, 93, 117, 120, 132, 133–4, 136, 137, 139, 141, 142–3 monopoly pricing 72, 132 natural 118, 132 of state over legitimate use of force and violence 42, 44, 45, 51, 88, 155, 173 see also prices, monopoly monopsony 131 Monsanto 123 Montreal Protocol 254, 259 ‘moral restraints’ 229, 233 mortgages 19, 21, 28, 32, 54, 67, 82, 239 multiculturalism 166 Mumbai 155, 159 Murdoch, Rupert xi Myrdal, Gunnar 150 N NAFTA 159 name branding 31, 139 nano-trading 243 Nation of Islam 291 national debt 45, 226, 227 National Health Service 115 National Labor Relations Board 120 National Security Administration 136 nationalisation 50 nationalism 7, 8, 44, 289 natural resources 58, 59, 123, 240, 241, 244, 246, 251 nature 56 alienation from 263 capital’s conception of 252 capital’s relation to 246–63 commodification of 59 domination of 247, 272 Heidegger on 59, 250 Polanyi on 58 power over 198 process-thing duality 73 and technology 92, 97, 99, 102 Nazis 151 neoclassical economists 109 neocolonialism 143, 201 neoliberal era 128 neoliberal ethic 277 neoliberalisation x, 48 neoliberalism xiii, 68, 72, 128, 134, 136, 176, 191, 234, 281 capitalism 266 consensus 23 counter-revolution 82, 129, 159, 165 political programme 199 politics 57 privatisation 235 remedies xi Nevada, housing in 77 ‘new economy’ (1990s) 144 New York City 141, 150 creativity 245 domestic labour in 196 income inequality 164 rental markets 22 social reproduction 195 Newton, Isaac 70 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) 189, 210, 284, 286, 287 Nike 31 Nkrumah, Kwame 291 ‘non-coincidence of interests’ 25 Nordic countries 165 North America deindustrialisation in 234 food grain exports 148 indigenous population and property rights 39 women in labour force 230 ‘not in my back yard’ politics 20 nuclear weapons 101 Nyere, Julius 291 O Obama, Barack 167 occupational safety and health 72 Occupy movement 280, 292 Ohlin Foundation 143 oil cartel 252 companies 77, 131 ‘Seven Sisters’ 131 embargo (1973) 124 ‘peak oil’ 251–2, 260 resources 123, 240, 257 oligarchy, oligarchs 34, 143, 165, 221, 223, 242, 245, 264, 286, 292 oligopoly 131, 136, 138 Olympic Games 237–8 oppositional movements 14, 162, 266–7 oppression 193, 266, 288, 297 Orwell, George 213 Nineteen Eighty-Four 202 overaccumulation 154 overheating 228 Owen, Robert 18, 184 Oxfam xi, 169–70 P Paine, Tom: Rights of Man 285 Paris 160 riots (1968) x patents 139, 245, 251 paternalism 165, 209 patriarchy 7 Paulson, Hank 47 pauperisation 104 Peabody, George 18 peasantry ix, 7, 107, 117, 174, 190, 193 revolts 202 pensions 134, 165, 230 rights 58, 67–8, 84, 134 people of colour: disposable populations 111 Pereire, Emile 239 pesticides 255, 258 pharmaceuticals 95, 121, 123, 136, 139 Philanthropic Colonialism 211 philanthropy 18, 128, 189, 190, 210–11, 245, 285 Philippines 115, 196 Picasso, Pablo 140–41, 187, 240 Pinochet, Augusto x Pittsburgh 150, 159, 258 planned obsolescence 74 plutocracy xi, xii, 91, 170, 173, 177, 180 Poland 152 Polanyi, Karl 56, 58, 60, 205–7, 210, 261 The Great Transformation 56–7 police 134 brutality 266 capacities and powers 43 powers xiii, 43, 52 repression 264, 280 surveillance and violence 264 violence 266, 280 police-state 203, 220 political economy xiv, 54, 58, 89, 97, 179–80, 182, 201, 206–9 liberal 204, 206, 209 political parties, incapable of mounting opposition to the power of capital xii political representation 183 pollutants 8, 246, 255 pollution 43, 57, 59, 60, 150, 250, 254, 255, 258 Pontecorvo, Gillo 288 Ponzi schemes 21, 53, 54, 243 population ageing 223, 230 disposable 108, 111, 231, 264 growth 107–8, 229, 230–31, 242, 246 Malthus’s principle 229–30 Portugal 161 post-structuralism xiii potlatch system 33 pounds sterling 46 poverty 229 anti-poverty organisations 286–7 and bourgeois reformism 167 and capital 176 chronic 286 eradication of 211 escape from 170 feminisation of 114 grants 107 and industrialisation 123 and population expansion 229 and unemployment 170, 176 US political movement denies assistance to the poor 292–3 and wealth 146, 168, 177, 218, 219, 243 world xi, 170 power accumulation of 33, 35 of capital xii, 36 class 55, 61, 88, 89, 97, 99, 110, 134, 135, 221, 279 computer 105 and currencies 46 economic 142, 143, 144 global 34, 170 the house as a sign of 15–16 of labour see under labour; of merchants 75 military 143 and money 25, 33, 36, 49, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65–6, 245, 266 monopoly see monopoly power; oligarchic 292 political 62, 143, 144, 162, 171, 219, 292 purchasing 105, 107 social 33, 35, 55, 62, 64, 294 state 42–5, 47–52, 72, 142, 155–9, 164, 209, 295 predation, predators 53, 54, 61, 67, 77, 84, 101, 109, 111, 133, 162, 198, 212, 254–5 price fixing 53, 118, 132 price gouging 132 Price, Richard 226, 227, 229 prices discount 133 equilibrium in 118 extortionate 84 food 244, 251 housing 21, 32, 77 land 77, 78, 150 low 132 market 31, 32 and marketplace anarchy 118 monopoly 31, 72, 139, 141 oil 251, 252 property 77, 78, 141, 150 supermarket 6 and value 31, 55–6 private equity firms 101, 162 private equity funds 22, 162 private property and the commons 41, 50, 57 and eradication of usufructuary rights 41 and individual appropriation 38 and monopoly power 134–5, 137 social bond between human rights and private property 39–40 and the state 47, 50, 58, 59, 146, 210 private property rights 38–42, 44, 58, 204, 252 and collective management 50 conferring the right to trade away that which is owned 39 decentralised 44 exclusionary permanent ownership rights 39 and externality effects 44 held in perpetuity 40 intellectual property rights 41 microenterprises endowed with 211 modification or abolition of the regime 14 and nature 250 over commodities and money 38 and state power 40–41, 42–3 underpinning home ownership 49 usufructuary rights 39 privatisation 23, 24, 48, 59, 60, 61, 84, 185, 235, 250, 253, 261, 262, 266 product lines 92, 107, 219, 236 production bourgeois 1 falling value of 107 immaterial 242 increase in volume and variety of 121 organised 2 and realisation 67, 79–85, 106, 107, 108, 173, 177, 179, 180, 221, 243 regional crises 151 workers’ dispossession of own means of 172 productivity 71, 91, 92, 93, 117, 118, 121, 125, 126, 132, 172, 173, 184, 185, 188, 220, 239 products, compared with commodities 25–6 profitability 92, 94, 98, 102, 103, 104, 106, 112, 116, 118, 125, 147, 184, 191–2, 240, 252, 253, 256, 257 profit(s) banking 54 as capital’s aim 92, 96, 232 and capital’s struggle against labour 64, 65 and competition 93 entrepreneurs 24, 104 falling 81, 107, 244 from commodity sales 71 and money capital 28 monopoly 93 rate of 79, 92 reinvestment in expansion 72 root of 63 spending of 15 and wage rates 172 proletarianisation 191 partial 175, 190, 191 ‘property bubble’ 21 property market boom (1920s) 239 growth of 50 property market crashes 1928 x, 21 1973 21 2008 21–2, 54, 241 property rights 39, 41, 93, 135 see also intellectual property rights; private property property values 78, 85, 234 ‘prosumers’ 237 Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph 183 Prozac 248 public goods 38 public utilities 23, 60, 118, 132 Q quantitative easing 30, 233 R R&D ix race 68, 116, 165, 166, 291 racial minorities 168 racialisation 7, 8, 62, 68 racism 8 Rand, Ayn 200 raw materials 16, 17, 148, 149, 154 Reagan, Ronald x, 72 Speech at Westminster 201 Reagan revolution 165–166 realisation, and production 67, 79–85, 106, 107, 108, 173, 177, 179, 180, 221, 243 reality contradiction between reality and appearance 4–6 social 27 Reclus, Elisée 140 regional development 151 regional volatility 154 Reich, Robert 123, 188 religion 7 religious affiliation 68 religious hatreds and discriminations 8 religious minorities 168 remittances 175 rent seeking 132–3, 142 rentiers 76, 77, 78, 89, 150, 179, 180, 241, 244, 251, 260, 261, 276 rents xii, 16–19, 22, 32, 54, 67, 77, 78, 84, 123, 179, 241 monopoly 93, 135, 141, 187, 251 repression 271, 280 autocratic 130 militarised 264 police-state 203 violent 269, 280, 297 wage 158, 274 Republican Party (US) 145, 280 Republicans (US) 167, 206 res nullius doctrine 40 research and development 94, 96, 187 ‘resource curse’ 123 resource scarcity 77 revolution, Fanon’s view of 288 revolutionary movements 202, 276 Ricardo, David 122, 244, 251 right, the ideological and political assault on the left xii; response to universal alienation 281 ‘rights of man’ 40, 59, 213 Rio de Janeiro 84 risk 17, 141, 162, 219, 240 robbery 53, 57, 60, 63, 72 robotisation 103, 119, 188, 295 Rodney, Walter 291 romantic movement 261 Roosevelt, Theodore 131, 135 Four Freedoms 201 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 213, 214 Ruhr, Germany 150 rural landscapes 160–61 Russia 154 a BRIC country 170, 228 collapse of (1989) 165 financial crisis (1998) 154, 232 indebtedness 152 local famine 124 oligarchs take natural resource wealth 165 S ‘S’ curve 225, 230–31 Saint-Simon, Claude de Rouvroy, comte de 183 sales 28, 31, 187, 236 San Francisco 150 Santiago, Chile: street battles (2006–) 185 Sao Paulo, Brazil 129, 195 savings the house as a form of saving 19, 22, 58 loss of 20, 58 private 36 protecting the value of 20 Savings and Loan Crisis (USA from 1986) 18 savings accounts 5, 6 Scandinavia 18, 85, 165 scarcity 37, 77, 200, 208, 240, 246, 260, 273 Schumpeter, Joseph 98, 276 science, and technology 95 Seattle 196 Second Empire Paris 197 Second World War x, 161, 234 Securities and Exchange Commission 120, 195 security xiii, 16, 121, 122, 165, 205, 206 economic 36, 153 food 253, 294, 296 job 273 national 157 Sen, Amartya 208–11, 281 Development as Freedom 208–9 senior citizens 168 Seoul 84 serfdom 62, 209 sexual hatreds and discriminations 8 Shanghai 153, 160 share-cropping 62 Sheffield 148, 149, 159, 258 Shenzhen, China 77 Silicon Valley 16, 143, 144, 150 silver 27–31, 33, 37, 57, 233, 238 Simon, Julian 246 Singapore 48, 123, 150, 184, 187, 203 slavery 62, 202, 206, 209, 213, 268 slums ix, 16, 175 Smith, Adam 98, 125–6, 157, 185, 201, 204 ‘invisible hand’ 141–2 The Wealth of Nations 118, 132 Smith, Neil 248 social distinction 68, 166 social inequality 34, 110, 111, 130, 171, 177, 180, 220, 223, 266 social justice 200, 266, 268, 276 social labour 53, 73, 295 alienated 64, 66, 88 and common wealth 53 creation of use values through 36 expansion of total output 232 household and communal work 296 immateriality of 37, 233 and money 25, 27, 31, 42, 55, 88, 243 productivity 239 and profit 104 and value 26, 27, 29, 104, 106, 107, 109 weakening regulatory role of 109, 110 social media 99, 136, 236–7, 278–9 social movements 162–3 social reproduction 80, 127, 182–98, 218, 219, 220, 276 social security 36, 165 social services 68 social struggles 156, 159, 165, 168 social value 26, 27, 32, 33, 55, 172, 179, 241, 244, 268, 270 socialism 215 democratic xii; ‘gas and water’ 183 socialism/communism 91, 269 socialist revolution 67 socialist totalitarianism 205 society capitalist 15, 34, 81, 243, 259 civil 92, 122, 156, 185, 189, 252 civilised 161, 167 complex 26 demolition of 56 and freedom 205–6, 210, 212 hope for a better society 218 industrial 205 information 238 market 204 post-colonial 203 pre-capitalist 55 primitive 57 radical transformation of 290 status position in 186 theocratic 62 women in 113 work-based 273 world 204 soil erosion 257 South Africa 84–5, 152, 169 apartheid 169, 202, 203 South Asia labour 108 population growth 230 software programmers and developers 115, 116 South Korea 123, 148, 150, 153 South-East Asia 107–8 crisis (1997–8) 154, 232, 241 sovereign debt crises 37 Soviet Bloc, ex-, labour in 107 Soviet Union 196, 202 see also Russia Spain xi, 51, 161 housing market crash (2007–9) 82–3 spatio-temporal fixes 151–2, 153, 154, 162 spectacle 237–8, 242, 278 speculative bubbles and busts 178 stagnation xii, 136, 161–2, 169 Stalin, Joseph 70 standard of life 23, 175 starvation 56, 124, 246, 249, 260, 265 state, the aim of 156–7 brutality 266, 280 and capital accumulation 48 and civil society 156 curbing the powers of capital as private property 47 evolution of the capitalist state 42 and externality effects 44 guardian of private property and of individual rights 42 and home ownership 49–50 interstate system 156, 157 interventionism 193, 205 legitimate use of violence 42, 44, 45, 51, 88, 155, 173 loss of state sovereignty xii; and money 1, 45–6, 51, 173 ‘nightwatchman’ role 42, 50 powers of 42–5, 47–52, 57–8, 65, 72, 142, 155–9, 209, 295 and private property 47, 50, 58, 59, 146, 210 provision of collective and public goods 42–3 a security and surveillance state xiii; social democratic states 85 war aims 44 state benefits 165 state regulatory agencies 101 state-finance nexus 44–5, 46–7, 142–3, 156, 233 state-private property nexus 88–9 steam engine, invention of the 3 steel industry 120, 121, 148, 188 steel production 73–4 Stiglitz, Joseph 132–4 stock market crash (1929) x Stockholm, protests in (2013) 171, 243 strikes 65, 103, 124 sub-prime mortgage crisis 50 suburbanisation 253 supply and demand 31, 33, 56, 106 supply chain 124 supply-side remedies xi supply-side theories 82, 176 surplus value 28, 40, 63, 73, 79–83, 172, 239 surveillance xiii, 94, 121, 122, 201, 220, 264, 280, 292 Sweden 166, 167 protests in (2013) 129, 293 Sweezy, Paul 136 swindlers, swindling 45, 53, 57, 239 ‘symbolic analysts’ 188 Syntagma Square, Athens 266, 280 T Tahrir Square, Cairo 266 Taipei, Taiwan 153 Taiwan 123, 150, 153 Taksim Square, Istanbul 266, 280 Tanzania 291 tariffs 137 taxation 40, 43, 47, 67, 84, 93–4, 106, 133, 150, 155, 157, 167, 168, 172, 190 Taylor, Frederick 119, 126 Taylorism 103 Tea Party faction 205, 280, 281, 292 technological evolution 95–6, 97, 101–2, 109 technological imperatives 98–101 technological innovation 94–5 technology changes involving different branches of state apparatus 93–4 communicative technologies 278–9 and competition 92–3 constraints inhibiting deployment 101 culture of 227, 271 definition 92, 248 and devaluation of commodities 234 environmental 248 generic technologies 94 hardware 92, 101 humanising 271 information 100, 147, 158, 177 military 93, 95 monetary 109 and nature 92, 97, 99, 102 organisational forms 92, 99, 101 and productivity 71 relation to nature 92 research and development 94 and science 95 software 92, 99, 101 a specialist field of business 94 and unemployment 80, 103 work and labour control 102–11 telephone companies 54, 67, 84, 278 Tennessee 148 Teresa, Mother 284 Thatcher, Margaret (later Baroness) x, 72, 214, 259 Thatcherism 165 theft 53, 60, 61, 63 Thelluson, Peter 226, 227 think tanks 143 ‘Third Italy’ 143 Third World debt crisis 240 Toffler, Alvin 237 tolls 137 Tönnies, Ferdinand 122, 125 tourism ix, 16, 140, 141, 187, 236 medical 139 toxic waste disposal 249–50, 257 trade networks 24 trade unions xii, 116, 148, 168, 176, 184, 274, 280 trade wars 154 transportation 23, 99, 132, 147–8, 150, 296 Treasury Departments 46, 156 TRIPS agreement 242 tropical rainforest 253 ‘trust-busting’ 131 trusts 135 Turin, Italy 150 Turkey 107, 123, 174, 232, 280, 293 Tuscany, Italy 150 Tutu, Archbishop Desmond 284 Twitter 236 U unemployment 37, 104, 258, 273 benefits 176 deliberately created 65, 174 high xii, 10, 176 insurance 175 and labour reserves 175, 231 and labour-saving technologies 173 long-term 108, 129 permanent 111 echnologically induced 80, 103, 173, 274 uneven geographical developments 178, 296 advanced and underserved regional economies 149–50 and anti-capitalist movements 162 asset bubbles 243 and capital’s reinvention of itself 147, 161 macroeconomic processes of 159 masking the true nature of capital 159–60 and technological forms 219 volatility in 244 United Fruit 136 United Kingdom income inequality in 169; see also Britain United Nations (UN) 285 United States aim of Tea Party faction 280 banking 158 Bill of Rights 284 Britain lends to (nineteenth century) 153 capital in (1990s) 154 Constitution 284 consumption level 194 global reserve currency 45–6 growth 232 hostility towards state interventions 167 House of Representatives 206 human rights abuses 202 imperial power 46 indebtedness of students in 194 Indian reservations 249 interstate highway system 239 jobless recoveries after recession 172–3 liberty and freedom rhetoric 200–201, 202 Midwest ‘rust belt’ 151 military expenditures 46 property market crashes x, 21–2, 50, 54, 58, 82–3 racial issues 166 Savings and Loan Crisis (from 1986) 18 social mobility 196 social reproduction 196–7 solidly capitalist 166 steel industry 120 ‘symbolic analysts’ 188 ‘trust-busting’ 131 unemployment 108 wealth distribution 167 welfare system 176 universal suffrage 183 urbanisation 151, 189, 228, 232, 239, 247, 254, 255, 261 Ure, Andrew 119 US Congress 47 US dollar 15, 30, 45–6 US Executive Branch 47 US Federal Reserve xi, 6, 30, 37, 46, 47, 49, 132, 143, 233 monetary policy 170–71 US Housing Act (1949) 18 US Treasury 47, 142, 240 use values collectively managed pool of 36 commodification of 243 commodities 15, 26, 35 common wealth 53 creation through social labour 36 and entrepreneurs 23–4 and exchange values 15, 35, 42, 44, 50, 60, 65, 88 and housing 14–19, 21–2, 23, 67 and human labour 26 infinitely varied 15 of infrastructural provision 78 loss of 58 marketisation of 243 monetisation of 243 of money 28 privatised and commodified 23 provision of 111 and revolt of the mass of the people 60 social demand for 81 usufructuary rights 39, 41, 59 usury 49, 53, 186, 194 utopianism 18, 35, 42, 51, 66, 119, 132, 183, 184, 204, 206–10, 269, 281, 282 V value(s) commodity 24, 25 failure to produce 40 housing 19, 20, 22 net 19 production and realisation of 82 production of 239 property 21 relation between money and value 27, 35 savings 20 storing 25, 26, 35 see also asset values; exchange values; social value; use values value added 79, 83 Veblen, Thorstein: Theory of the Leisure Class 274 Venezuela 123, 201 Vietnam, labour in 108 Vietnam War 290 violence 53, 57, 72, 204–5, 286 against children 193 against social movements 266 against women 193 colonial 289–90, 291 and contemporary capitalism 8 culture of 271 of dispossession 58, 59 in a dystopian world 264 and humanism 286, 289, 291 of the liberation struggle 290 militarised 292 as the only option 290–91 political 280 in pursuit of liberty and freedom 201 racialised 291 state’s legitimate use of 42, 44, 45, 51, 88, 155, 173 of technology 271 and wage labour 207 virtual ecological transfer 256 Volcker, Paul 37 W wages 103 basic social wage 103 falling 80, 82 for housework 115, 192–3 low xii, 114, 116, 186, 188 lower bound to wage levels 175 non-payment of 72 and profits 172 reduction in 81, 103, 104, 135, 168, 172, 176, 178 rising 178 and unskilled labour 114 wage demands 150, 274 wage levels pushed up by labour 65 wage rates 103, 116, 172, 173 wage repression 158–9 weekly 71 see also income Wall Street criticised by a congressional committee 239–40 illegalities practised by 72, 77 and Lebed 195 new information-processing technologies 100 Wall Street Crash (1929) x, 47 Wall-E (film) 271 Walmart xii, 75, 84, 103, 131 war on terror 280 wars 8, 60, 229 currency 154 defined 44 monetisation of state war-making activities 44–5 privatisation of war making 235 resource 154, 260 and state aims 44 state financing of 32, 44, 48 and technology 93 trade 154 world 154 water privatisation 235 wave theory 70 wave-particle duality 70 wealth accumulation of 33, 34, 35, 157, 205 creation of 132–3, 142, 214 disparities of 164–81 distribution of 34, 167 extraction from non-productive activities 32 global 34 the house as a sign of 15–16 levelling up of per capita wealth 171 and poverty 146, 168, 177, 218, 219, 243 redistribution of 9, 234, 235 social 35, 53, 66, 157, 164, 210, 251, 265, 266, 268 taking it from others 132–3 see also common wealth weather futures 60 Weber, Max 122, 125 Weimar Republic 30 welfare state 165, 190, 191, 208 Wells Fargo 61 West Germany 153, 154, 161 Whitehead, Alfred North 97 Wilson, Woodrow 201 Wolf, Martin 304n2 Wollstonecraft, Mary: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman 285 women career versus family obligations 1–2 disposable populations 111 exploitation of 193 housework versus wage labour 114–15 oppression against 193 social struggle 168 trading of 62 violence against 193 in the workforce 108, 114, 115, 127, 174, 230 women’s rights 202, 218 workers’ rights 202 working classes and capital 80 consumer power 81 crushing organisation 81 education 183, 184 gentrified working-class neighbourhoods ix; housing 160 living conditions 292 wage repression and consumption 158–9 working hours 72, 104–5, 182, 272–5, 279 World Bank 16, 24, 100, 186, 245 World Trade Organization 138, 242 WPA programmes (1930s) 151 Wright, Frank Lloyd: Falling Water 16 Wriston, Walter 240 Y YouTube 236 Yugoslavia, former 174 Z Zola, Émile 7


pages: 432 words: 124,635

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, agricultural Revolution, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, City Beautiful movement, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, East Village, edge city, energy security, Enrique Peñalosa, experimental subject, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, happiness index / gross national happiness, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, license plate recognition, McMansion, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, science of happiness, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, wage slave, white flight, World Values Survey, Zipcar

alarmed the insurance industry: Fogarty, David, “Climate Change Growing Risk for Insurers: Industry,” Planet Ark, January 20, 2011, http://planetark.org/wen/60947 (accessed January 21, 2011). It would take nine planets: WWF, Zoological Society of London, and Global Footprint Network. Living Planet Report 2008 (Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund For Nature, 2008). in the next twenty years: Froggatt, Antony, et al., “Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic risks and opportunities for business,” white paper, London: Lloyd’s, 2010; Industry Task Force on Peak Oil and Energy Scarcity, “2010 Peak Oil Report,” 2010; Hess, Werner, “Energy for Tomorrow’s World—Trends, Scenarios, Tomorrow’s Markets,” Allianz/Dresdner Bank AG, Frankfurt/M., Germany, 2005); International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2008 (Paris: IEA Publications, 2010); Hirsch, Robert L., “Peaking of World Oil Production: Recent Forecasts,” National Energy Technology Laboratory, 2007; U.S. Joint Forces Command, “The Joint Operating Environment,” Norfolk, VA, 2010.

forty million cars: Mouawad, Jad, “Rising Demand for Oil Provokes New Energy Crisis,” New York Times, November 9, 2007, www.nytimes.com/2007/11/09/business/worldbusiness/09oil.html (accessed January 21, 2011). massive energy shortfalls: Macalister, Terry, “US Military Warns Oil Output May Dip Causing Massive Shortages by 2015,” The Guardian, April 11, 2010, www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply (accessed January 21, 2011). extreme heat waves: Tillett, Tanya, “Temperatures Rising: Sprawling Cities Have the Most Very Hot Days,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2010: A444. More heat waves: Committee on the Science of Climate Change, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001). cities are responsible: Grimm, N.


pages: 349 words: 114,038

Culture & Empire: Digital Revolution by Pieter Hintjens

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4chan, airport security, anti-communist, anti-pattern, barriers to entry, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, blockchain, business climate, business intelligence, business process, Chelsea Manning, clean water, congestion charging, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, Debian, Edward Snowden, failed state, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, German hyperinflation, global village, GnuPG, Google Chrome, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, informal economy, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, national security letter, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, packet switching, patent troll, peak oil, pre–internet, private military company, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, Skype, slashdot, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route, transaction costs, union organizing, web application, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero day, Zipf's Law

Digital society must be careful about tolerating the criminalization of behavior, such as seeking socially unacceptable porn, that gives the goons an excuse to push the line the wrong way. As with narcotics, the police are not the right tool for public health issues. Zombie Conspiracies There is one other global existential threat to our way of life, and I'm not talking about Hello Kitty. I am however talking about peak oil, and the risks it brings for our comfortable holiday society. Bear with me, I'm not a catastrophe fan (we made it through Y2K, so how bad can the future be, right?). However, that doesn't mean that other people are as optimistic as me. Though the industrial revolution started with coal, today's global economy owes its very existence to long-chain liquid hydrocarbons, aka "oil." Of the seven largest global businesses, six are oil and gas -- Exxon Mobil, Shell, Sinopec, BP, CNPC, Aramco -- plus Walmart in position three.

Or alternatively, that by sheer luck and chance, we hit oil just when coal started to become too costly and dirty. Either way, oil is the lifeblood (though about 500 times cheaper than human blood, after the processing fee of $1,500 per gallon of blood is factored in) of our industrial society. Take away oil, and we have some really big problems. And, although it has dropped off the radar in the last years, peak oil is a fairly solid thesis. That is, we're ending the era of cheap oil, and the future is one of rising oil prices, scarcity, and (more) wars over oil. Deja vu, anyone? We're going to end with Mad Max and large men in weird masks chasing us down the road so they can cut our faces off. The future is scary! Whether in 50 or 100 years, it's clear that oil is peaking, cheap oil supplies are running out, and the world will change forever as a result.


pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

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algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K

In their book The Last Myth, Mathew Barrett and Mel Gilles put it this way: By allowing the challenges of the 21st century to be hijacked by the apocalyptic storyline, we find ourselves awaiting a moment of clarity when the problems we must confront will become apparent to all—or when those challenges will magically disappear, like other failed prophecies about the end of the world. Yet the real challenges we must face are not future events that we imagine or dismiss through apocalyptic scenarios of collapse—they are existing trends. The evidence suggests that much of what we fear in the future—the collapse of the economy, the arrival of peak oil and global warming and resource wars—has already begun. We can wait forever, while the world unravels before our very eyes, for an apocalypse that won’t come.1 For many, it’s easier, or at least more comforting, to approach these problems as intractable. They’re just too complex and would involve levels of agreement, cooperation, and coordination that seem beyond the capacity of humans at this stage in our cultural evolution, anyway.

So in lieu of doing the actual hard work of fixing these problems in the present, we fantasize instead about life afterward. The crisis of global warming morphs into the fantasy of living off the grid. The threat of a terrorist attack on our office tower leads us to purchase an emergency personal parachute for easy egress, and to wonder how far up the org chart we might be promoted once everyone else is gone. The collapse of civilization due to nuclear accident, peak oil, or SARS epidemic finally ends the ever-present barrage of media, tax forms, toxic spills, and mortgage payments, opening the way to a simpler life of farming, maintaining shelter, and maybe defending one’s family. The hardest part of living in present shock is that there’s no end and, for that matter, no beginning. It’s a chronic plateau of interminable stresses that seem to have always been there.


pages: 265 words: 15,515

Nomad Citizenship: Free-Market Communism and the Slow-Motion General Strike by Eugene W. Holland

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capital controls, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, deskilling, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, peak oil, price mechanism, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, slashdot, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, wage slave, working poor

The international Transitions movement provides a useful contrast in this respect.57 Started in Ireland in 2005, but now operating in most of the English-speaking world as well as Japan and South America, the Tran­ sitions Network shares some of the presuppositions and organizational philosophy propounded in The Coming Insurrection. Although far less apocalyptic in tone, Transitions, too, constitutes a response to what it considers the crisis of modern civilization: in this case, the imminence of peak oil and potentially catastrophic climate change, aggravated more recently by the financial collapse of 2008 and the general failure of the economic model of perpetual growth. Owing to the inability of “industrial society” and representative democracy to address the crisis, steps had to be taken to do so autonomously, outside the usual channels of big busi­ ness and government. The Transitions movement comprises a plethora of local groups dedicated to preparing for energy descent (the move toward a lower-energy, carbon-free economy), in which authority and decision making are distributed and situation-specific: the aim is to “help people access good information and trust them to make good decisions”: the intention of the Transition model is not to centralize or control decision making, but rather to work with everyone so that it is practiced at the most appropriate, practical and empowering level, and in such a way that it models the ability of natural systems to self organize.58 Local groups are thus linked in an international network whose main purpose is not to command or even coordinate action but simply to share examples of and information about fostering community resilience in the face of climate change, peak oil, and the inevitability of energy descent.

The Transitions movement comprises a plethora of local groups dedicated to preparing for energy descent (the move toward a lower-energy, carbon-free economy), in which authority and decision making are distributed and situation-specific: the aim is to “help people access good information and trust them to make good decisions”: the intention of the Transition model is not to centralize or control decision making, but rather to work with everyone so that it is practiced at the most appropriate, practical and empowering level, and in such a way that it models the ability of natural systems to self organize.58 Local groups are thus linked in an international network whose main purpose is not to command or even coordinate action but simply to share examples of and information about fostering community resilience in the face of climate change, peak oil, and the inevitability of energy descent. Although the means it employs are entirely peaceful, in contrast to those of The Coming Insurrection, the Transitions Network envisions social change on a similarly global scale, implemented via similarly distributed decision making and action taking by small groups. The other tactic that distinguishes The Coming Insurrection from Virno’s strategy of exodus is its insistence on the importance of organizing the defectors in communes and of assuring that these communes are not only immanently self-organizing but materially self-sufficient or self-pro­ visioning as well.


pages: 391 words: 102,301

Zero-Sum Future: American Power in an Age of Anxiety by Gideon Rachman

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Asian financial crisis, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, currency manipulation / currency intervention, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, global reserve currency, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, laissez-faire capitalism, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, offshore financial centre, open borders, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, RAND corporation, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Sinatra Doctrine, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Myth of the Rational Market, Thomas Malthus, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent

This crisis is likely to return because it is intimately linked to the economic growth in Asia unleashed by globalization. The demand for natural resources is rising. That is leading to a spike in prices and jostling between the world’s major powers to secure access to supplies of energy, food, and water. There is a lively debate between experts about whether the world has reached “peak oil”—the moment when oil reserves peak and then decline. Believers in “peak oil” point out that, while the number and size of new oil discoveries has been falling since the mid-1980s, global demand is rising steadily. The International Energy Agency projects that, to keep pace, “some 64 million barrels-per-day of additional gross capacity—the equivalent of almost six times that of Saudi Arabia today—needs to be brought on stream between 2007 and 2030.”4 James Schlesinger, a well-respected former U.S. energy secretary, predicts that “we are heading for a crucial moment as the nations of the world face a time, the first time since we had major economic development, of an inability to increase the supply of oil.”5 These projections sound alarming, but critics point out that dire predictions that the world was about to run out of oil were also fashionable in the 1970s—and were then disproved by new finds and new technology.


pages: 614 words: 176,458

Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, call centre, carbon footprint, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, food miles, Food sovereignty, Haber-Bosch Process, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, informal economy, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, megacity, Northern Rock, Panamax, peak oil, refrigerator car, scientific mainstream, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce

Pigs will be kept in small numbers on mixed farms, in woodlands, at schools and prisons, near hospitals, behind restaurants and pubs, on allotments, at city farms and by neighbourhood pig clubs. Waste food will be recycled by the shortest possible route, according to DEFRA’s own ‘proximity principle’.31 Welcoming pigs back into the community may sound dotty because it seems so at odds with the sanitized suburbia promulgated by the nanny state. But we know that recycling food through pigs works because we did it during the Second World War – and if the prophets of peak oil and global warming are correct, we may be headed for similar conditions. It also looks as though the business of making Tottenham Pudding could become a simpler and less energy intensive business. Tristram Stuart visited a firm in Japan which sterilizes food waste by pasteurizing it at 90 degrees for just five minutes, and then inoculates it with a Lactobacillus, that ferments the swill much as if it were yoghurt.

I have taken the liberty of transcribing it into the same matrix as the other scenarios, after making some minor adaptions.6 CAT’s rural economy is based around a 12 course rotation, in which (typically) the land would be under green manure during three years, and sown to Miscanthus for bioenergy over another three years, with grain, rape for biofuel and root crops taken over the other six years. The authors warn: There is much justified anxiety about biofuels. Sometimes presented as a means of maintaining post peak oil mobility, a few simple calculations show that biofuels come nowhere near to providing the World’s (or even Britain’s) current transport demands. A key reason why they are not a panacea is that under typical field or forest conditions, photosynthesis is simply not very efficient. For a given area, windmills produce 20 times more energy, photovoltaic panels 100 times more … Despite these drawbacks this strategy recognizes that bio-energy can play a useful role in a sustainable energy strategy.

This is, I fear, what is more likely to happen. The GOOFs have too much on their side: the pressure of rising population, the increasing numbers of people brought up in cities who have no connection with or understanding of land-based livelihoods, a media with an urban bias, and the financial muscle of capitalist corporations whose sole interest is profit. There are some, such as Richard Heinberg,94 who think that peak oil will force society to ruralize (as it did in Cuba). But the supporters of headlong economic growth will do their utmost to identify other technologies such as nuclear energy to substitute for fossil fuels, and the most likely thing to scupper them is a miscalculation about the onset of global warming – and that will scupper all of us. However, my hunch is that there will be rising levels of resistance to increasing urbanization, from people who seek a lifestyle more closely related to the natural world.


pages: 421 words: 125,417

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs

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agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, business process, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, energy security, failed state, Gini coefficient, Haber-Bosch Process, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, low skilled workers, microcredit, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, unemployed young men, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working-age population

Second, we can shift from the depleting resource (say, oil again) to a renewable resource, such as solar power. Third, we can economize on the use of the depleting resource, for example, by investing in better insulation in order to use less home heating oil. There has been much consternation about “peak” oil, the idea that the world may be nearing the peak of total oil production and, therefore, faces a decline of oil reserves and oil production in future decades because we have discovered and already developed most or all of the world’s great oil fields. The common assumption is that peak oil, if true, is a disaster: the world hitting a brick wall of oil supply just as the developing world is ramping up its demand for it. Yet the consequences would not be nearly as dire as some have suggested. We might run out of conventional petroleum in a few decades, but we have centuries left of coal and other nonconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands and oil shale.


pages: 412 words: 113,782

Business Lessons From a Radical Industrialist by Ray C. Anderson

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Albert Einstein, banking crisis, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, cleantech, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, distributed generation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, invisible hand, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, music of the spheres, Negawatt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, renewable energy credits, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, supply-chain management, urban renewal, Y2K

It is a virtuous circle where you, your company, your customers, your stockholders, and the earth all come out ahead. Third, as I said in the opening chapter, when it comes to running your operation with the earth and sustainability in mind, you will have no trouble finding skeptics. You’ll find them among your friends, your colleagues, your board. The bold ones will take you aside and say, Don’t you know that all this environmental, global warming, peak-oil stuff is just _____. (You can fill in the blank.) Even if they’re not quite that bold they might still ignore—or undermine—your efforts. You might even run into resistance in some corners of Wall Street, though there has truly been a dramatic shift in attitudes there. But it surely wasn’t that way back in 1994, when a man by the name of Dan Hendrix had the unenviable job of convincing the investor community that even if Interface’s founder and CEO had gone round the bend, the company was still a good place to invest.

And we will all pay—for generations—as the planet continues to warm, with all the accompanying consequences. Our taxes pay for direct federal subsidies to the oil industry, too, even though our dependency on their oil makes us vulnerable to political blackmail. The emissions that come from burning oil and coal not only destabilize the climate, but also ratchet up regional tensions over dwindling resources. To oil, add arable land and clean, freshwater, and what do you have? Peak oil, peak water, and peak soil—all at the same time. Staying with oil, the quest to find and produce ever greater quantities of fossil fuels skews our moral compasses, too. We’re encouraged to destroy pristine wilderness because it might contain a few weeks’ worth of petroleum (or not) that may (or may not) come on line sometime in the next decade or so. We pay a very steep price when we tolerate (or worse, install) tyrants who, by accidents of nature, control recoverable reserves of the stuff.


pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

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23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

Do oil producers have the rest of the world over a barrel? Yes and no. Oil is running out, alongside other key resources, but the amount that’s left is probably much more than we think and largely depends on what price people are willing to pay for it. With oil, in particular, technology will rapidly develop alongside demand, as it has done historically. This means that deeper deposits will be accessed alongside new reserves. Furthermore, “peak oil” generally refers to conventional oil, but there are huge reserves of unconventional oils such as tar sands, ultraheavy oils, oil shale and bituminous schist. Over the next few decades we’ll have problems matching rising demand to supply, but the main issues will be price volatility, transport and refining capacity—not a lack of oil. And let’s not forget that higher prices are an incentive for people to use resources more wisely and to develop highly cost-efficient alternatives.


pages: 222 words: 70,559

The Oil Factor: Protect Yourself-and Profit-from the Coming Energy Crisis by Stephen Leeb, Donna Leeb

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Buckminster Fuller, diversified portfolio, fixed income, hydrogen economy, income per capita, index fund, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, profit motive, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Vanguard fund, Yom Kippur War, zero-coupon bond

There still will be plenty of oil in the ground, but it will become increasingly difficult and expensive to keep pumping it out. • A key reason: Hubbert’s law. M. King Hubbert, a geologist, predicted in the 1950s that oil production in a field peaks once half its oil has been extracted. So far he has been remarkably prescient. • Mideast reserves are likely less than has been stated, and there are serious questions as to whether Saudi Arabia even wants to fully develop its reserves. • As geological limits lead to peaking oil production, inflationary pressures will build. chapter 4 Oil Prices: Up, Up, and Away On February 20, 2003, the New York Times ran an article about the sudden jump in prices at the gasoline pump that had occurred in the preceding week or so in many parts of the country. Gas prices had risen an average of 29 cents a gallon since late 2002, and many drivers suddenly were having to shell out $2 or more a gallon.


pages: 287 words: 81,970

The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Coming Currency Crisis With Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments by Charles Goyette

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bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, fiat currency, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, housing crisis, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, index fund, Lao Tzu, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, oil shock, peak oil, pushing on a string, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, short selling, Silicon Valley, transaction costs

Lesley Stahl’s report displayed one oil project that demanded removal of 100 million cubic feet of sand dunes just to build an airstrip, while a 400-mile pipeline had to be constructed in an unforgiving terrain in which temperatures can reach 135 degrees. Another, at the Khurais oil field, is described as the biggest oil project in history. Because of inadequate pressure, a 150-mile pipeline was built from the sea to pump in 84 million gallons of seawater each day. Peak Oil, the theory that world oil production has reached its maximum level, has to contend with a moving target. New drill bits and recovery methods make oil accessible at places it couldn’t be tapped years ago. But it all comes at a cost. Equipment wears out; infrastructure has to be maintained. Russia has been able to boost its proved reserves in western Siberia with new technology, but when Russian oil production dipped in 2008, it was because of insufficient reinvestment.

Toast by Stross, Charles

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anthropic principle, Buckminster Fuller, cosmological principle, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Extropian, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, glass ceiling, gravity well, Khyber Pass, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, NP-complete, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, performance metric, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, slashdot, speech recognition, strong AI, traveling salesman, Turing test, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

First, the halcyon days of the late 1990s boom economy burst: then a cabal of smart, ingenious, and deter- mined engineering students carried out a daring attack—or, equally truthfully, committed an atrocious act of mass-murder that shocked the world: it all depends on where you stand in relation to the aftermath of Gavrilo Princip’s fatal shots in 1914. Two wars later—and a city destroyed by a hurricane—and there’s gloom all over. Peak Oil seems to be just around the corner, with the $10 gallon of gas looming, draco- nian clamp-downs on civil liberties seen as a necessity to prevent further acts of terrorism, global climate change is beginning to bite, species are going extinct at a rate that hasn’t been seen since the end of the Triassic, and we still can’t put an astronaut back on the Moon. But is the picture really that grim?


pages: 294 words: 80,084

Tomorrowland: Our Journey From Science Fiction to Science Fact by Steven Kotler

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Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Burning Man, carbon footprint, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, epigenetics, gravity well, haute couture, interchangeable parts, Kevin Kelly, life extension, Louis Pasteur, North Sea oil, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, theory of mind, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

Overcast and 10,000 degrees.’ ” Popular wisdom holds that Three Mile Island slowed the industry, while Chernobyl ground it to a halt, but nuclear experts feel that cost overruns were a much worse problem. In the end, it didn’t matter. Dozens of new plants were cancelled. One became a coal factory. In America, no new plants have been ordered in over thirty years. As far as most are concerned, that was the end of the story. 2. This might have stayed the end of that story except, in the early 2000s, we started hearing other tales. Global warming, peak oil, resource wars — the list goes on. And it’s this list that’s put the nuclear option back on the table, a process well summarized by Peter Schwartz and Spencer Reiss in a recent Wired article: “Burning hydrocarbons is a luxury that a planet with six billion energy-hungry souls can’t afford. There is only one sane, practical alternative: nuclear power.” Many feel the same. Both the previous Bush administration and the current Obama administration back the nuclear option, as do an increasing number of serious environmentalists like Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Gaia theorist James Lovelock, and eco-author Bill McKibben.


pages: 243 words: 66,908

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Meadows. Donella, Diana Wright

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, game design, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Just-in-time delivery, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, peak oil, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Whole Earth Review

That book made headlines around the world for its observations that continual growth in population and consumption could severely damage the ecosystems and social systems that support life on earth, and that a drive for limitless economic growth could eventually disrupt many local, regional, and global systems. The findings in that book and its updates are, once again, making front-page news as we reach peak oil, face the realities of climate change, and watch a world of 6.6 billion people deal with the devastating consequences of physical growth. In short, Dana helped usher in the notion that we have to make a major shift in the way we view the world and its systems in order to correct our course. Today, it is widely accepted that systems thinking is a critical tool in addressing the many environmental, political, social, and economic challenges we face around the world.


pages: 214 words: 71,585

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum

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delayed gratification, demographic transition, Donald Trump, financial independence, happiness index / gross national happiness, index card, Mason jar, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, Skype, women in the workforce

Eventually the species Homo sapiens will die off, and even if we escape the sun’s expansion into a red giant and colonize another star system or download our consciousness into machines or evolve into pure energy life forms, eventually (according to current consensus) the universe itself will undramatically gutter out in a boring heat death and everyone—your kids, their kids, your great(23)-grandchildren, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Lincoln, Nietzsche, Akira Kurosawa, and me—will be even more utterly nonexistent than completely forgotten, since there won’t even be anyone around to forget us. The childless, on the other hand—or childfree, as the more aggressive ones like to be called (a formation apparently derived from the uncomplimentary smoke- and disease-free)—like to claim that they’re living more fully conscious lives than those brainless docile hordes helplessly breeding at the dictates of their DNA. They cite the imminent threats of overpopulation, global warming, peak oil, and, don’t let’s forget, nuclear war, still very much on the table—all of which are perfectly valid and persuasive reasons for not procreating, and none of which do I believe for one second is anyone’s real reason. Our real reasons may be less obvious than those of parents—or the child-curs’d, as we like to call them—but I have no doubt they’re just as unconscious and primal. The rise in voluntary childlessness, like the decrease in fertility and the increase in homosexuality, may be an evolutionary adaptation to overpopulation.1 Or, since the phenomenon is more prevalent in the West, maybe it’s an effect of wealth and plenty.


pages: 296 words: 76,284

The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving by Leigh Gallagher

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Airbnb, big-box store, Burning Man, call centre, car-free, Celebration, Florida, clean water, collaborative consumption, Columbine, crack epidemic, East Village, edge city, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, helicopter parent, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tony Hsieh, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen, walkable city, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

A 2006 documentary, The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream, explored the potentially disastrous implications of a worldwide oil shortage on the suburban development pattern. But never have so many forces been working against conventional suburban development at the same time. The facts laid out in the pages that follow represent a slow-burning revolution, a realignment of our societal priorities, and a reversal of the fundamental social equation that’s come to define our nation. In the energy world, people talk about peak oil, the moment after which our supply of fossil fuels will begin to dwindle. After more than half a century of expansion and the housing equivalent of gas-guzzling, we may have hit peak suburb. When migration patterns are starting to head in a different direction, when the market has changed its mind on what’s valuable, when Whole Foods opens in Harlem and Toll Brothers takes over Manhattan, it’s hard to deny we’re at the beginning of a serious transformation.


pages: 221 words: 68,880

Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy (Bicycle) by Elly Blue

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, active transport: walking or cycling, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, big-box store, car-free, hydraulic fracturing, if you build it, they will come, Jane Jacobs, job automation, Loma Prieta earthquake, medical residency, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, ride hailing / ride sharing, science of happiness, the built environment, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Our current bicycle infrastructure investments in the United States alone save 12 million tons of carbon emissions every year, by one estimate.207 Moderate investment in the future could save 23 million tons a year, and more substantial investment could save as much as 91 million tons a year. It’s a small piece of the puzzle, not insignificant but not world-saving on its own, either—though it’s certainly one of the most cost-effective climate remedies out there. What are bicycles good for, then? Peak oil is old hat, and perhaps has been for several decades. And it is no longer necessary to await apocalyptic disaster as major world cities are shattered by earthquakes and flooded by rising tides and increasingly large storms. The rising price of gas, the health care crisis, and the terrible economy have constituted a true disaster for many households in recent years. Many have been responding, whether out of optimism or pure, desperate necessity, by taking up bicycling.


pages: 269 words: 104,430

Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives by Catherine Lutz, Anne Lutz Fernandez

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barriers to entry, car-free, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, failed state, feminist movement, fudge factor, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, inventory management, market design, market fundamentalism, mortgage tax deduction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, New Urbanism, oil shock, peak oil, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ride hailing / ride sharing, Thorstein Veblen, traffic fines, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor, Zipcar

Those countries collectively took in $750 billion in oil revenues in 2007, much of it from Americans at the pump, from Davenport, Iowa, to Binghamton, New York. Gas prices grab the most attention and generate the fiercest agitation at least in part, it seems, because we have come to think of gas as a birthright and a necessity. Like water, it should flow easily and cheaply, as it has long done. More consumers have come to understand the concept of peak oil— that world reserves are finite and that production may have already reached or will soon reach a peak and begin to fall. They have also heard or read extensive news reports about the rise of demand in China and India. Yet they also tend to believe it should be a top national policy priority to keep oil economical. Cheap oil is still valued more highly than environmental preservation, reduced traffic congestion, or breathable air.


pages: 305 words: 79,356

Drowning in Oil: BP & the Reckless Pursuit of Profit by Loren C. Steffy

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Berlin Wall, clean water, corporate governance, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shock, peak oil, Piper Alpha, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund

Bringing the platform into production, along with its sister project, Atlantis, would “make an enormous difference to BP’s financial performance,” Hayward predicted. Thunder Horse’s delays in reaching “first oil” had been costly. Not only had the repairs been expensive, but the lost time meant that when the field began producing in July 2008, it had missed the 157 1 58 D R O W N I N G I N O I L peak oil prices of the previous summer. Thunder Horse was ready to run just as a global recession was taking hold, hobbling worldwide demand for oil. Crude prices tumbled. No matter. For BP, the benefits were as much psychological as financial. Thunder Horse represented everything that BP employees, from Hayward on down, wanted the company to be, the sort of stunning undertaking for which BP wanted to be known.


pages: 321 words: 85,893

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith

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British Empire, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Drosophila, dumpster diving, en.wikipedia.org, Gary Taubes, Haber-Bosch Process, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, peak oil, placebo effect, Rosa Parks, the built environment

The absolute bottom line is: what methods of food production build topsoil while using only ambient sun and rain? Because nothing else is sustainable. To quote George Draffan, “I’ll repeat the obvious: sustainable systems are the only ones that are sustainable.”83 Using those methods, and only those methods, how many humans can the planet support? Because the day we produce one more of us is the day we need to be ashamed of ourselves as a species. William Catton and other peak oil writers think that our numbers overshot in 1800 CE. That year stands in as the beginning of the fossil fuel age. We began to produce increasing amounts of food by using reserves of energy that were nonreplicating, nonrenewable. I agree that the year 1800 marks a change in human culture and consumption that has been profoundly destructive. But I would push the beginning of the drawdown age back about ten thousand years, to the beginning of agriculture.


pages: 323 words: 89,795

Food and Fuel: Solutions for the Future by Andrew Heintzman, Evan Solomon, Eric Schlosser

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agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, big-box store, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate social responsibility, David Brooks, deindustrialization, distributed generation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, flex fuel, full employment, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, hydrogen economy, land reform, microcredit, Negawatt, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment

It has been said that a world that starves for lack of natural gas cannot, practically speaking, combat climate change or air pollution, nor could it likely develop a feasible hydrogen economy. This is, perhaps, the ultimate measure of our deep and problematic connection to global networks of resource exploration and consumption. Our energy empire is large but stretched dangerously thin. The story isn’t merely about linear depletion and the bell-curve graphs of oil and gas decline favoured by peak oil advocates: it’s about how the quest for unconventional and marginal supplies of energy is progressively sabotaging the economy and efforts to transition to greener outcomes. It’s as though the world’s energy system, left unchecked, engineers its own crisis; new solutions are often transitory, effectively mere stopgap measures within a limited economic horizon. This fault is increasingly evident outside of North America, where economic pressures and lack of wealth show systemic flaws more clearly.


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

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agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, Y2K

Jared Diamond, biologist, conservationist, and author of Collapse (2004), had read Holdren’s report closely, so when he was asked by an audience member at a San Francisco talk if he “agreed with Stewart Brand in supporting the revival of nuclear,” he surprised the audience and me by saying yes: “To deal with our energy problems we need everything available to us, including nuclear power.” James Howard Kunstler, fervent opponent of suburbs, wrote a book in 2004 titled The Long Emergency. I’m persuaded by neither his expectation of how peak oil plays out nor his views on the fragility of big cities, but many environmentalists are, and they should note that he ends his “Beyond Oil” chapter with the words, “Nuclear power may be all that stands between what we identify as civilization and its alternative.” There is a category of prominent environmentalist that I predict will increase in coming years—the reluctant tolerators. When they express support of nuclear, they are careful to use sentences too complex to be quote-worthy.


pages: 346 words: 102,625

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker

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8-hour work day, active transport: walking or cycling, barriers to entry, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, delayed gratification, discounted cash flows, diversification, don't be evil, dumpster diving, financial independence, game design, index fund, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, loose coupling, market bubble, McMansion, passive income, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, psychological pricing, the scientific method, time value of money, transaction costs, wage slave, working poor

We also see the emerging problems of consumer society--stress, overwork, inflation, lack of balance, lack of paradigm-shifting innovation, stagnation, and loss of control--both on a personal, and occasionally a national scale. This indicates that this figure is beginning to come to a full circle. It's not clear which direction the next cycle will take humanity--brave new world, information revolution and the discovery of commercial fusion, or peak oil/water, irreversible climate crisis, and the decline and fall of civilization.24 Yet this will all be decided by those who live now; in part by you, and none will be more ideally prepared for a changing world, indeed to change the world, than a Renaissance man.25 The Renaissance ideal A Renaissance man excels in a wide range of subjects. He is also known as a universal man, a polymath, or more derisively as a jack of all trades.


pages: 304 words: 88,773

The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks. by Steven Johnson

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call centre, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, Dean Kamen, double helix, edge city, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, John Snow's cholera map, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, megacity, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, peak oil, side project, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, trade route, unbiased observer, working poor

Rumors, news, and gossip were carried between coffeehouses by their patrons, and on occasion runners would flit from one coffeehouse to another to report major events such as the outbreak of war or the death of a head of state.” Standage, p. 155. page 226 “In the Broad Street outbreak” Quoted in Rawnsley, p. 76. page 227 “that in any profession the highest order” Rawnsley, p. 206. page 232 Two-thirds of the women living in rural areas Statistics from “State of World Population 1996.” See http://www.unfpa.org/swp/1996/. page 233 “Virtually any service system” Toby Hemenway, “Cities, Peak Oil, and Sustainability.” Published at http://www.patternliteracy.com/urban2.html. page 234 If we’re going to survive as a planet Much has been made of the staggering size of the environmental footprint of today’s modern city, the area of land required to support sustainably the energy intakes of the city’s population. London’s environmental footprint, for instance, is practically as large as the entire United Kingdom.


pages: 366 words: 107,145

Fuller Memorandum by Stross, Charles

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Beeching cuts, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, congestion charging, dumpster diving, finite state, Firefox, HyperCard, invisible hand, land reform, linear programming, peak oil, security theater, sensible shoes, side project, telemarketer, Turing machine

If you think the UK's been sliding into an Orwellian nightmare for the past decade, policed by cameras on every doorstep, you're right--but there is a reason for it: the MAGINOT BLUE STARS defense network and its SCORPION STARE basilisk cameras are fully deployed, ready to track and zap the first outbreaks. There are other, less obvious defensive measures. Our budget's been rising lately; ever wondered why there are so many police vans with cameras on the streets? CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is coming, and it's going to be perilous in the extreme. It's a bigger threat than global warming, peak oil, and the cold war rolled into one. We may not live to see the light at the other end of the tunnel, as we finally drift out from the fatal conjunction and the baleful stars close their eyes and reality returns to normal. Survival is far from assured--it may not even be likely. But one thing's for sure: we're going to give it our best shot. THAT EVENING, AFTER THE PLUMBERS HAVE UPGRADED OUR defenses and Andy has finished picking our brains and left, I order in a curry--paying strict attention to the spy-hole this time when answering the doorbell--then retreat upstairs with Mo, a bottle of single malt, and a box of very expensive chocolates I've been hoarding against an evening like this.


pages: 379 words: 108,129

An Optimist's Tour of the Future by Mark Stevenson

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23andMe, Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, augmented reality, bank run, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, clean water, computer age, decarbonisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, flex fuel, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hans Rosling, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Louis Pasteur, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, packet switching, peak oil, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, the scientific method, Wall-E, X Prize

It’d be what eco-geeks call ‘carbon neutral.’ It might even appeal to those who don’t buy the need for carbon neutral fuels. Today nearly ninety per cent of oil reserves are held by just thirteen countries, which makes the rest of the world dangerously dependent. The US, for instance, imported fifty-seven per cent of its oil in 2008. As reserves dwindle (and it’s pretty much accepted that we will reach ‘peak oil’ at some point in the next generation), the opportunity for conflict is obvious. And beyond the possibility of making any country which successfully adopts these technologies energy-independent, they also eradicate the sort of man-made disaster that devastated the US coasts of the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. On top of all that, the energy infrastructure could stay largely the same.


pages: 376 words: 109,092

Paper Promises by Philip Coggan

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, delayed gratification, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, paradox of thrift, peak oil, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, trade route, tulip mania, value at risk, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce

Just as that company would grow inexorably, so did the global economy on the back of cheap energy. Naturally enough, mankind used the easiest sources of energy first. After trees, we exploited the coal and oil that were nearest the surface, or cost less to refine. Saudi Arabia is so rich because its oil is so cheap to extract; a few dollars per barrel. Some people think the Saudi oil reserves have been overstated and that we have already reached maximum global oil production – peak-oil theory, as it is known. Certainly, individual areas have peaked, including the North Sea fields between Britain and Norway. Others argue that it is all a matter of price. High prices will create the incentive to find and exploit new reserves. But the new reserves that have been found in recent years are either expensive to exploit (under the Atlantic near Brazil, for example) or in politically difficult places.


pages: 391 words: 97,018

Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Decline . . . And the Rise of a New Economy by Daniel Gross

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset-backed security, Bakken shale, banking crisis, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demand response, Donald Trump, Frederick Winslow Taylor, high net worth, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, illegal immigration, index fund, intermodal, inventory management, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, LNG terminal, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk tolerance, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, Wall-E, Yogi Berra, Zipcar

Yes, we avoided a second Great Depression, but at a great cost. Look at the deficit and the impact of the Fed’s zero-interest policy. Yes, we’ve recovered some economic ground, but there’s so much still to recover in housing and employment. Yes, the U.S. economy has entered its third year of expansion, but it’s likely to conk out at any minute. Yes, but what about housing? Yes, but what about global warming, peak oil, the deficit? As the economy lights candles, the Yessbuts call for more darkness. The usual response at the end of a book like this is to point a way forward by ticking off a host of sensible, sane policy prescriptions that will lead the United States back to the economic promised land. I’m going to resist the temptation of creating yet another goo-goo laundry list. First, it has been done better and more comprehensively by a host of center and center-left authors.


pages: 285 words: 86,174

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, carried interest, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rolodex, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

.”: See “Energy Update: 30% Say Global Warming a Very Serious Problem,” Rasmussen Reports, January 7, 2012, http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/energy_update, accessed January 20, 2012. 46 “At no other time in U.S. history were the news media more influential”: Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation (New York: Random House, 2007), p. 7. 47 “there is no doubt”: Ibid., p. 6. 48 “We’re marching over the cliff”: See interview with Noam Chomsky in “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate,” Videonation, www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUmwy0VTnqM&feature=player_embedded, accessed February 22, 2012. 49 “State and Terrorist Conspiracies”: Available at http://cryptome.org/0002/ja-conspiracies.pdf, accessed January 19, 2012. 50 “Institutions are very important”: “Frost Over the World: Julian Assange Interview,” Aljazeera, http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/frostovertheworld/2010/12/201012228384924314.html, accessed January 19, 2012.


pages: 421 words: 120,332

The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

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Bretton Woods, BRICs, clean water, Climategate, colonial rule, deglobalization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, energy security, flex fuel, global supply chain, Google Earth, guest worker program, Hans Island, hydrogen economy, ice-free Arctic, informal economy, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, land tenure, Martin Wolf, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, side project, Silicon Valley, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Y2K

In his book When the Rivers Run Dry environmental journalist Fred Pearce describes in vivid, firsthand detail the stark reality of impending water crises in more than thirty countries around the globe. We now withdraw so much water that many of our mightiest and most historic rivers—like the Nile, the Colorado, the Yellow, the Indus—have barely a trickle left to meet the sea. The good news is that, unlike oil, which is ultimately finite, water is endlessly returned to us by the hydrologic cycle. Except for fossil groundwater, there is no such thing as “Peak Water” in the same sense as “Peak Oil.” It always comes back—somewhere—as rain or snow. It may be too much, or too little, or come at the wrong time, but it does come back. The bad news is that in addition to the aforementioned problems of too much, too little, or bad timing, our water sources can also become polluted. Finally, while it’s true that there is plenty of water circulating out there someplace, nearly all of it is useless to us.


pages: 532 words: 155,470

One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility by Zack Furness, Zachary Mooradian Furness

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active transport: walking or cycling, affirmative action, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, back-to-the-land, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, conceptual framework, dumpster diving, Enrique Peñalosa, European colonialism, feminist movement, ghettoisation, Golden Gate Park, interchangeable parts, intermodal, Internet Archive, Jane Jacobs, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, peak oil, place-making, post scarcity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, sustainable-tourism, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, urban planning, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Yom Kippur War

House appropriations Transportation Subcommittee is indicative of why the federal government is only now considering the idea of actually funding and improving, rather than dismantling and maligning, the only nationwide passenger rail system in the United States. Somewhere between these poles, a market-friendly environmental centrism is taking root through the advocacy of politicians like al Gore and scientists like Kenneth S. Deffeyes, the geologist most credited with drawing public attention to Hubbert’s “peak oil” hypothesis.6 On matters of transportation, Gore benignly calls for “higher mileage cars” while Deffeyes speaks for the bulk of americans who ironically see human-powered transportation— not the one hundred-year anomaly of the automobile—as part of an unrealistic, even radical, set of objectives: One possible stance, which i am not taking, says that we are despoiling the Earth, raping the resources, fouling the air, and that we should eat only organic food and ride bicycles.

Wireless by Stross, Charles

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anthropic principle, back-to-the-land, Benoit Mandelbrot, Buckminster Fuller, Cepheid variable, cognitive dissonance, colonial exploitation, cosmic microwave background, epigenetics, finite state, Georg Cantor, gravity well, hive mind, jitney, Khyber Pass, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, peak oil, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, security theater, sensible shoes, Turing machine

Sometimes he would age an entire year in an hour’s working absence, but the medical privileges of the Stasis extended also to the Enlightened; there would be plenty of time to catch up, over the decades and centuries. Pierce, for his part, found it oddly easier to deal with the second half of his training with a stable family life to fall back on. The Stasis were spread surprisingly thin across their multitrillion-year empire. The defining characteristic of his job seemed to be that he was only called for in turbulent, interesting times. Between peak oil and Spanish flu, from Carthage to the Cold War, his three-thousand-year beat sometimes seemed no more than a vale of tears—and a thin, poor, nightmare of a world at that, far from the mannered, drowsy contentment of the ten-thousand-year-long Hegemony. Most of his fellow students seemed to prefer the hedonistic abandon proffered by the Pleasure Empires, but Pierce held his own counsel and congratulated himself on his discovery of a more profound source of satisfaction.


pages: 414 words: 123,666

Merchants' War by Stross, Charles

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British Empire, dumpster diving, East Village, indoor plumbing, offshore financial centre, packet switching, peak oil, stem cell

James looked as if he'd bitten a lemon while expecting an orange. "Oil, son. Makes the world go round. You know what the business with al-Qaeda is about? Oil. We're in Saudi Arabia because of the oil: bin Laden wants ns out of Saudi. We're going to go into Iraq because of the oil. Oil is leverage. Oil lets us put the Chinks and Europeans in their place. And we're running short of it, in case you hadn't noticed, there's this thing called peak oil coming and we've got analysis scratching their heads to ligure out how we're going to field it. We're not going to run out, but demand is going to exceed supply and the price is going to start climbing in a few years. Our planetary preeminence relies on us having cheap oil for our industries, while everyone else pays through the nose for it. But we can't guarantee to keep prices low if we're having to send our boys out to sit in the desert and keep the wells pump-ing.


pages: 422 words: 131,666

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back by Douglas Rushkoff

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affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, car-free, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, Firefox, full employment, global village, Google Earth, greed is good, Howard Rheingold, income per capita, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, peak oil, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, private military company, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social software, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Victor Gruen, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, young professional

Though few issues touch New Yorkers’ lives more personally on a more regular basis, transportation was a third-tier issue at City Hall. No one, it seemed, was even paying attention to it. With Streetsblog I set out to change that. I launched the blog with four goals in mind: First, I aimed to create a new journalistic beat covering a range of stories from the intense neighborhood-level battles over new bike lanes and parking spaces to the big questions around how New York City planned to address the challenge of peak oil and climate change. Second, I wanted Streetsblog to serve as a watchdog for the New York City Department of Transportation, an agency that no one was holding to account. Third, Streetsblog would educate New York City’s policy makers, press, and regular citizens about urban planning and transportation best practices that were emerging in other cities. Finally, the blog would function as a gathering place and discussion forum for livable-streets advocates.


pages: 407 words: 121,458

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff by Fred Pearce

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additive manufacturing, air freight, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, demographic transition, Fall of the Berlin Wall, food miles, ghettoisation, Isaac Newton, Kibera, megacity, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, profit motive, race to the bottom, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, the built environment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Prices of key metals fell rather than rose, and a new optimism took hold. If metals ran low, we would always find more, or technology would create substitutes. The road to continued economic growth was clear. But now the rapacious demands of surging economies like China are beginning to undermine this optimism. At current rates of demand, there are thirty years of antimony and silver left, forty years of tin, and sixty years of copper. The date of peak oil production may be close. And, most worrying perhaps, a whole suite of new metals has become vital to the twenty-first century – many of which are in short supply even as they are being exploited for the first time. Our world now depends on indium, with a projected thirteen years of supply, on gallium and hafnium and terbium and ruthenium and, thanks to the mobile phone, tantalum. The –iums are in charge.


pages: 476 words: 148,895

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

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biofilm, bioinformatics, Columbian Exchange, correlation does not imply causation, dematerialisation, Drosophila, energy security, Gary Taubes, Hernando de Soto, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, microbiome, peak oil, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Steven Pinker, women in the workforce

Think of the kraut crock as a burbling auxiliary stomach, doing much of the work of digestion before your body has to. As with cooking, it offers your body an energy savings. Unlike cooking, however, the energy required to ferment food does not need to come from burning wood or fossil fuel. It is self-generated, by the metabolism of microbes breaking down the substrate. Fermentation can easily be done off the grid, a quality that commends it to the enviros, anarchists, and peak-oil types who help make up the subculture. “The historical bubble of refrigeration may not last,” Katz likes to point out. When that particular bubble bursts, you’re going to want to know people like Sandor Katz and microbes like L. plantarum. Fermenting foods also intensifies their flavors, a particular boon to agricultural humans. The advent of agriculture dramatically narrowed the human diet, in many cases down to a small handful of bland staples, most of them carbohydrates.


pages: 497 words: 144,283

Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna

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1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, 9 dash line, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, capital controls, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Doha Development Round, edge city, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, ethereum blockchain, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial repression, forward guidance, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Hyperloop, ice-free Arctic, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Khyber Pass, Kibera, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, LNG terminal, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, mass affluent, megacity, Mercator projection, microcredit, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, openstreetmap, out of africa, Panamax, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, post-Panamax, private military company, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transaction costs, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day

BUILDING A BORDERLESS WORLD Even competitive grand strategy advances a self-stabilizing world. As America, Europe, and China invest in infrastructure with their neighbors, promoting regional integration and advancing global connectivity, they ultimately—if inadvertently—contribute to greater collective resilience. Whereas the quest for oil drove the Nazis into the Near East and the Japanese to Malaya, today we have energy abundance rather than scarcity—not “peak oil,” but “gas glut.” For more than a decade, Westerners have feared that China was locking up raw materials with an imperialist impulse reminiscent of nineteenth- and twentieth-century European empires. But it turns out that China’s huge investments in ramping up Latin American and African resource extraction have generated massive global supplies for the world market (even oversupply that has led to price collapses for certain commodities as China’s own demand has fallen).


pages: 692 words: 167,950

The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century by Alex Prud'Homme

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, carbon footprint, Chance favours the prepared mind, clean water, Deep Water Horizon, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, hydraulic fracturing, invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, megacity, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, renewable energy credits, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, urban sprawl

By the end of the twentieth century, virtually every accessible source of freshwater on the planet had been used, diverted, or altered by man. Rivers, lakes, and aquifers were drained, and at least half of the world’s wetlands had been damaged or filled in, which caused greater storm-water runoff and allowed salt water to pollute freshwater aquifers. Humanity’s nearly unslakable thirst is threatening to outstrip the earth’s ability to supply water in a sustainable way. Borrowing from the notion of peak oil—a point at which the supply of oil is outstripped by human consumption—academics worry that the earth could be reaching a point of “peak water.” While experts don’t usually predict a massive hydrological apocalypse, they point out that local water crises exacerbate many other social conflicts. They warn that two major trends, population growth and climate change, will accelerate water scarcity in coming decades, setting off a ripple effect of changes.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

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1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

Rachel Swaby, “Big Ideas: Spray Wi-Fi Hotspots on to Everything,” Wired UK, March 30, 2013, http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2013/03/big-ideas/spray-wi-fi-hotspots-on-to-everything. 47.  Thanks to Aaron Fooshee, a student in a workshop I taught at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, in 2013 for exploring the idea of object-to-object spam. 48.  See my “Root the Earth: Peak Oil Apophenia,” in Leper Creativity: Cyclonopedia Symposium, ed. Ed Keller, Nicola Masciandaro, Nicola Masciandaro, and Eugene Thacker (Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books, 2012). Interface Layer This whole question of the cinematic author is certainly about ensuring the distribution of films, since creative work solicits a whole other temporality, but it is also about keeping open the possibility of creating films that do not yet exist.