Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Must-Read Article on Peak Oil

I'm not usually big on articles that appear in publications dealing with policy or professional journals; while much of the substance is of importance, the writing is often very dry and non-accessible unless you're in the same field as the author.  This article, from the current issue of Energy Policy, is a notable exception and is well worth reading.  It's also fairly short (at 8 pages).  The article deals with three possible responses, by various nations, to Peak Oil.  BTW, the author is a professor of political science (rather than a scientist or an economist).  The three responses are linked to prior events in recent history by nations that were faced with a situation in which they suddenly found themselves with limited resources of fossil fuels.  Jorg Friedrichs predicts that nations will either follow the path of Japan before and during the Pacific Theater in WWII (Predatory Militarism, in which oil supplies are obtained through force), North Korea post-Soviet Union (Totalitarian Retrenchment, in which the elite tell the rest of the populace to "screw off" and hoard the remaining oil for themselves, leading to widespread famine), or Cuba post-Soviet Union (Socioeconomic Adaptation, in which Cubans relied on social networks and organic methods of food production in order to survive). 

As to America, Friedrichs predicts that we'll engage in Predatory Militarism, which is pretty obvious.  Of course, Socioeconomic Adaptation is the most ideal of the three, but developing countries who haven't fully industrialized themselves stand the best chance of realizing this.  It probably won't be possible here due to the erasure of our past agricultural knowledge, our full embrace of industrial methods to grow food, and our widespread isolation from our neighbors.  

Here is an interview with Friedrichs discussing the article. 

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