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The End of an Age: The Great Failure of Catastrophism

Colin Campbell, the founder of the association for the study of peak oil and gas (ASPO) explaining the essence of oil depletion. The considerations below originate from a post by Michael Krieger where he describes how he is so dismayed by the reaction of the public to the current epidemic that he is closing his blog to rethink the whole matter over. You can read of similar feelings in a post by Rob Slane of the "Blogmire" and of Chris Smaje on "Resilience." Many others are dismayed at how badly the Covid-19 crisis was managed: a threat that was real but by all measures not so terrible as it was described. Nevertheless, it generated an overreaction, more division than unity, political sectarianism, counterproductive behaviors, and it ultimately led people to accept to be bullied and mistreated by their governments and even to be happy about that.The "peak oil movement" was started by a group of retired geologists around the end of the 1990s. You could call us "catastrophists," but catastrophe was not what we were aiming for. We were not revolutionaries, we never thought to storm the Bastille, to give power to the people, or to create a proletarian paradise. We were scientists, we just wanted society to get rid of fossil fuels as soon as possible, although we did think that the final result would have been a more just and peaceful society.  But how to reach this goal? Of course, we understood that humankind is a vague term and that people tend to seek for their [More]

The End of an Age: The Failure of Catastrophism

Colin Campbell, the founder of the association for the study of peak oil and gas (ASPO) explaining the essence of oil depletion. The considerations below originate from a post by Michael Krieger where he describes how he is so dismayed by the reaction of the public to the current epidemic that he is closing his blog to rethink the whole matter over. You can read of similar feelings in a post by Rob Slane of the "Blogmire" and of Chris Smaje on "Resilience." Many others are dismayed at how badly the Covid-19 crisis was managed: a threat that was real but by all measures not so terrible as it was described. Nevertheless, it generated an overreaction, more division than unity, political sectarianism, counterproductive behaviors, and it ultimately led people to accept to be bullied and mistreated by their governments and even to be happy about that.The "peak oil movement" was started by a group of retired geologists around the end of the 1990s. You could call us "catastrophists," but catastrophe was not what we were aiming for. We were not revolutionaries, we never thought to storm the Bastille, to give power to the people, or to create a proletarian paradise. We were scientists, we just wanted society to get rid of fossil fuels as soon as possible, although we did think that the final result would have been a more just and peaceful society.  But how to reach this goal? Of course, we understood that humankind is nothing homogeneous, but we saw no reason why the people in [More]

The Denial of Death and Risk Assessment

The threat of widespread death from COVID-19 has become so all consuming that we're willing to give up real community, finances, jobs, possibly a healthy mental life, and, perhaps worst of all, the ability to buy toilet paper at any local store. We’ve somehow decided that all the things we thought we apparently valued prior to the disease can be set aside because this one option—stopping the spread of COVID-19—is the only thing that matters. [More]

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