Uploaded on Aug 22, 2008
"SHORTAGE OF ENERGY" or "LONGAGE OF PEOPLE"?
By Jay Hanson, August 21, 2007
to discuss the issues raised in this paper http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/th...
Longage is always soluble; a shortage may not be. -- Garrett Hardin
There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation.
There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize.
There is a failure here that topples all our success. -- John Steinbeck
A specter is haunting developed countries, the specter of "peak oil." If you were born after 1960, you will probably die of violence, starvation or contagious disease. This is because our genetic demand for more-and-more resources, within a physical environment of less-and-less "net energy" available for those resources, will inevitably lead to widespread violence and global nuclear war.
Geologists have calculated that global oil production  and North American natural gas production  are peaking about now. American coal is expected to peak about 2035. No alternative -- even nuclear  -- has the potential to replace more than a tiny fraction of the power presently generated by fossil fuels.
America was specifically designed by special interests (e.g., General Motors, Firestone and Standard Oil) to require fossil fuel and automobiles  to be viable. The exhaustion of fossil fuel will leave many millions of Americans with no access to food or water and facing certain death. For example, ten or more millions of people in Southern California alone will die within a couple of days after drinking their toilet tanks and swimming pools dry.
Since it's literally impossible to increase global net energy production, the only approaches which can mitigate this problem are national -- to either increase national net energy, or reduce national energy demand, or both. The primary goal of American public policy should be to minimize the suffering  of as many American citizens as possible by delivering basic "needs" gratis. Unfortunately, our democratic  form of government can not direct us to any specific goal because it is "process politics" instead of "systems politics":
"As the name implies, process politics emphasizes the adequacy and fairness of the rules governing the process of politics. If the process is fair, then, as in a trial conducted according to due process, the outcome is assumed to be just -- or at least the best the system can achieve. By contrast, systems politics is concerned primarily with desired outcomes; means are subordinated to predetermined ends."
Indeed, all measures that our present government takes to mitigate our problems will make them even worse!  Since our present government can not direct us to any specific goal, the first step in mitigation must be to invent a new systems politics. In other words, dump our present "special interest" government in favor of a new "common interest" government based on a new set of values:
"In brief, liberal democracy as we know it -- that is, our theory or 'paradigm' of politics -- is doomed by ecological scarcity; we need a completely new political philosophy and set of political institutions. Moreover, it appears that the basic principles of modern industrial civilization are also incompatible with ecological scarcity and that the whole ideology of modernity growing out of the Enlightenment, especially such central tenets as individualism, may no longer be viable."
The closest example in our experience was the country on a war footing during World War Two when our economy was directed towards the specific goal of winning the war. Moreover, even if the entire economy were directed towards developing renewable energy supplies, it would be a significant challenge to avoid anarchy because energy available for consumer goods could fall to about 30% of demand:
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