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Noam Chomsky on Peak Oil

The basic theory is incontrovertible. The only questions have to do with timing and cost. ...
The date can be pushed back much farther if more costly (or maybe some to-be-discovered improved) technology is used. As for the estimates of cost, by reasonable standards one could argue that oil is far under-priced. In real terms, it's not particularly high now as compared with other commodities, from some reasonable base line. And low-priced oil leads to heavier use and less effort to create sustainable alternatives.

That I think is a far more serious problem than production peaking. In fact, one could argue that the earlier production peaks, the better off the human species (and a lot more) is, because of the effects of unconstrained use of hydrocarbons on the environment.

Talk about "shrinking our economies" is pretty meaningless. Our economies would shrink substantially if we got rid of huge expenditures for the military, for incarceration, and other highly destructive activities. Sustainable economies might lead to highly improved quality of life.

homepage: homepage: http://peakoil.blogspot.com/2004/09/noam-chomsky-on-peak-oil-theory_08.html

As usual, Noam really didn't offer many solutions. 08.Sep.2004 17:36


I suppose this is a big step for Chomsky but he still did not really have anything to say about the major implications of peak oil (see dieoff.com). As for his faith in technology... it seems like he does not recognize the trend of techno-industrial society. An alternative energy resource would most likely wreak more havoc. He also doesn't seem to understand the nature of greed in regards to capitalism judging by his optimism about "shrinking our economy." I also wonder what his idea of a sustainable economy amounts to. Perhaps a totalitarian techno-sphere could be sustainable? Besides, what direct action is Noam calling for? Get rid of huge expenditures for the military, incarceration, and other highly destructive activities. OK Noam. Great advice, we'll get right on it. Thanks for clearing it all up and showing us the way. -- Tweet Tweet

a little bird told me 08.Sep.2004 19:04

he didn't like what chomsky had to say

dude, who shit in your cereal bowl?

you're right -- he didn't tell you what you wanted to hear. sounds like he was talking about a completely different subject. he doesn't live in SE portland and he's not committed to your sub-subculture and its sub-sub-critique of all the other critiques. we knew that already.

Solutions 08.Sep.2004 19:29


Chomsky's point is well taken. If you consider the mass and make-up of the Earth, then there is a lot of oil to be had. He also states the most common voice of hope, that technology will allow for the efficient extraction of plentiful sources (heavy crude, tar sands, etcs.), as an anticipated argument to his thesis.

The most obvious approaches to conservation were excluded (I'm sure) from Chomsky's speech because: (A) The were obvious and well cited, and (B) because he only has so much time.

Regardless, the point is that the Bush Administration is doing nothing but playing favorites to a Royal Family and Military and Petro-Industrial complex that has given his family its power for four generations now This is despite all the evidence that serious constraints in global supply exist and higher CAFE standards and alternative sources are very beneficial to reducing demand and dependence on foreign oil. This is in the best interest of America, but means lost profits to some companies that have empraced government lobbying as the primary route to revenue.

As they say in business school, "You don't milk the cows, you milk the dogs." Light sweet petroleum distillation is a very mature and aging industry. Supply sources are decreasing as price is rising, bringing more competition from alternative sources. Such is economics, whether you're in the oil business or a gazelle on the African veldt, despite drought and famine. You accept more RISK to get the water available, but (with the benefit of human society) you also LOBBY TO MAKE IT RAIN more!!!

Point being, step one is to do what we already know will help a lot--higher CAFE standards, greater funding for mass transit, higher gas guzzler taxes, etc.

HA! You guys suck and so does Noam! 09.Sep.2004 06:56


It's sad that I have to lower myself to the level of the flames on this indymedia site, but it's downright ridiculous how you sorry s.o.b.s deify Chomsky while not really defending him. What was offered in response to Chomsky's trite opinion on peak oil was not a sub-sub-critique, it was just a critique plain and simple. That Chomsky has such mindless acolytes only goes to show how weak his bs really is. We all know the world is going to hell without the holy lord Noam telling us, but what plan of action does he suggest for redemption? None. It's almost enough to make one lose faith. And don't bother posting any links to Noam's tomes, I've read enough of his whiny drivel to know that he doesn't offer any solutions.

poor little bird 11.Sep.2004 15:47

anybody more popular than me SUCKS !

if you actually read what he said, ...

... he said, basically, declining oil production & rising prices would/will not be a problem because the economy is already in a state of gross, and grossly destructive, overproduction, and we've got lots of other problems that are more serious, including mass murder around the world and mass imprisonment in America.

he didn't offer "solutions" to the approaching energy crisis because he doesn't see any crisis. the solutions to the other problems are obvious: stop funding mass murder and mass imprisonment. chomsky has been promoting these kinds of simple, obvious solutions to simple, obvious problems his whole life.

chomsky built his political reputation as an aggregator of research on militarism and human rights abuse. ask him about something else & you're not likely to get a quote you like.

sounds like you resent having to compete for attention with people who write better than you do, about subjects more people care about. boo hoo hoo.

put on yer feathers and dance the peak oil dance hippy 11.Sep.2004 15:53

babylon is comin' down brother-man !

wait, i get it.

you want EVERYBODY to tell you all y'gotta do is stop eating meat & ride your bike everywhere, and capitalism will collapse.

that's, like, "direct action," huh?

welcome to the real world. you can go out and take "direct action" against the Army and the prison system if you want. good luck. i hear their facilities are a little better defended than the Starbucks across the street and the Chevy dealership down the road.

nobody said this shit was easy to fix, or possible for any cranky, ally-hatin'-on superminority to even address.

The problem with the likes of Chomsky and Zinn 11.Sep.2004 17:02

Infallible Liberal Gods

Chomsky and Zinn often seem to like promoting Gandhian values but not Gandhian actions. From their positions in the pacifist movement they ought to call for some Gandhian sieges of a few of the larger more corrupt corporations that are wreaking so much havoc. As it is, I'm not sure how much they even support forest activism and they certainly don't seem to promote it. The only solutions they offer are weak and vague. If you'd stop your hero worship for a while and stop being yes men you might be able ask them some tougher questions and prod them to greater heights -- unless they have already ascended as high as possible.