11.12.2005

Fatalism for Change

I recently attended a lecture at my school that was entitled, Peak Oil: The Crisis of Capitalism. It was interesting in the sense that it was really nice to see that people actually participated in these free lectures for the sake of extra-curricular education. But the point being made, was more or less absolutely fatalist nonesense. To me, it was a completely unedcated understanind of capitalism and its nature, as well as, how, once it is in place, it maneouvres. Peak oil is the point at which exploration approaches zero, and consmption tends to infinity. It is basically an effect in which the oil base has become fixed momentarily, and is now being diminished on a daily basis. There was once a point where the consumption of oil barely made a dent in the amount that was being found and being prepared to be tapped (basically, buying the property and the rights). The speaker was correct in pointing out this instance though, there is potentially oil crisis after oil crisis in store for the economy, and humans; and with this I do not disagree; but where I do disagree with him is in his notion that capitalism will fall as a result. He sees the capitalist "ideology", as he likes to call it, as being founded on oil and that it would cease to exist without it. I propose to the speaker that he is, well, and idiot.
Capitalism in no way is founded on the oil base, it is based on the demand of society and those who provide what people want/need (supply). When, not if, it comes to a point where the price of oil does reach astronomical levels, there will be an increased demand for affordable energy. It just so happens that "green" energy will become a very valuable investment, as it will be at the bottom of the "S" curve of the life-cycle of a buiness. Meaning, its demand is about to explode and there will be investors jumping all over that insufficient supply. Excess demand is a beautiful thing really, and to cotinue with that idea, there will be an adverse affect on the price of oil as people begin to make the switch to the new, affordable, sustainable, and hopefully portable form of energy. If there is no demand for something, its not worth anything, which means the price of oil will, what?, thats right, drop. I draw attention to the somewhat recently development of hybrid cars, and more importantly, the ongoing struggle to complete a safe hyrdogen-cell powered car. It is impossible not to see that the switch is on, capitalism will evolve. It will still be the large firms on Wall St. and Bay St. deciding where the best investment is, and that will be in new energy.
You always have to think in terms of markets when you think about capitalism. There is this mass amount of capital flowing around throughout the entire worlds economy. People like to make money on their money, becuae they worked hard to get it in the first place. So investors will seek to make the highest possible return on their dollar; capital does not discriminate on the nature of the business, only the return. Although, this is, and its debateable, disgusting in some ways; capitalism does leave room for prefences and externatlities, so it comes down to the morality of the people on that point. But, when it becomes time that there is a significant yield on the investment in renewable energy, the capital of the world will back it. We are so heavily vested in oil right now because it is simply the most efficient form of portable energy we have. I once saw a bit on TLC that was about the Norwegian windmill fields. I believe that each blade of the 3 piece "fan" is 39 metres long. Thats a big fucking windmill and it creates, to the best of my memory, enough energy to meet the needs of approximately 2,000 homes. And, whether or not I believe it or not is irrelevant, the ROI (Return on investment) is supposed to be approximately 6 months. They cost, again, an esimate, $50 million USD to buy. And to be honest, if you think about the size of the capital markets, is pocket change. The Government of Ontario recently put, I think, $4.6 billion into refurbishing a nuclear power plant. So that means, at a 1.2 exchange rate, they could have bought 76 windmills. Well, thats an exaggeration, we'll say with all other associated costs to operate the windmills and convert the energy, maybe 40 windmills, to be conservative; that would provide energy to 80,000 homes. Not bad, although, I do not know exactly how many homes a nuclear power plant can feed; but even if it were more, what is the biproduct of a windmill? Not toxic waste.
The point being, that there are alternatives out there that exist. Wave power, water powered desalination of sea water, wind power, solar energy, biothermal energy, natural gas (I know, its not renewable, but it's there and its portable), and still, billions and billions of barrels of oil. The only thing that I hope for is that renewable energy becomes cheaper than coal before the people start looking for something to switch to because they can't afford oil. That's my only concern.

My advice is to simply wait, and watch how capitalism evolves past this crisis it faces. To say that capitalism would ever cease to exist, would be to say that people will stop being greedy, or stop existing basically. I'm not saying that I like the way it is, but it most definitely is the way it is.

"What you want is what I'm sellin'
Make you think that buyin' is rebellin'.."
If people didn't want, there would be no need to blame anyone for our consumption.

4 Comments:

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