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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Trading Doom for Rapture

monkeygrinder put together a well-reasoned 2nd-order criticism of a green's (or as Big Gav likes to call them, veridian) opinion of peak oil depletion. In particular, he catches Toby Hemenway in a logical conundrum concerning cause-and-effect relationships. Just because the effect succeeds some event doesn't make it the cause, or as mg notes:
Earth Day had nothing to do with Texas. What a hoot. The off shore supplies are trivial.
As to my own 3rd-order comments, I say yes to mg and nay to the Toby-ator. I especially notice all of that development in Alaska after the 1970 peak, and which conveniently ignored the public's outcry to limit (in Toby's words) "other sources of domestic oil because they damaged our environment", did nothing to counteract the peak's descent.

But since Pat Robertson has joined the debate on our side, apparently, I guess we have nothing to worry about in getting oil depletion issues heard in the red states. We lost a green but gained a funda'minionist. What a deal.

The apocalypse that the Rapture-ready crowd spouts makes the limited doomerism I admit to look like blowing up an ant-mound with a lady-finger.

I listened to Kevin Phillips, who has read some of the "Left Behind" series in preparation for his latest book, interviewed by musician Ned Sublette (subbing for Laura Flanders on AA Radio [ mp3]) a week ago, and got a taste of what the theocrats want. But leave it to Ned for providing a great line: (paraphrasing) "People were scared when Reagan came into office that he was going to undo the New Deal. But now, we need to worry about George W. Bush wanting to undo The Enlightenment".

Update: Toby Hemenway's analysis of the Hubbert Curve demonstrates how a little bit of knowledge causes a serious deficiency in insight. He gets the idea correctly that a Hubbert Curve does not have to follow a symmetric profile, but screws it up with this inane non-sequitor closer:
The shape of Hubbert's Curve is a coincidence, but it’s one that through its strong pull on our psyches became very good marketing for Peak Oil doomsayers. Every time you see that nice, symmetrical bell curve in connection with Peak Oil, remember that you are being seduced by a false association with a powerful symbol. A rate is not a statistical distribution. This confusion is a fine example of what Sir Peter Medawar called being "educated beyond the ability to undertake rational thought." We've seen that curve in school, so some will assume, uncritically, that it's being properly used. Don't be fooled. The curve describing the end of the oil era could take any of an infinite number of shapes.
and ... ???

Cause: Hopeless


Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

re your update -- I had the clear feeling when reading the article that Hemenway was attempting to have it both ways, and meanwhile swimming in deep water with nothing but a leaky life vest.

a permaculture advocate, who seemed to be cheering the fact that the "hubbert curve" was "flattening out..."

if true, VERY bad news for planet earth. Luckily, True Only In His Own Mind.

It was weird, and kind of distasteful.

1:46 AM  
Professor Blogger step back said...

On Henemway's nonsequiter logic: I think he is employing the following 3-step subconscious thought process: (1) I have proven you wrong on one minor detail (the curve will not be "exactly" like this). (2) Therefore I have proven you wrong (a minor wrong is a "wrong"). (3) Therefore if "you" are wrong, nothing you say can be right.

It's all "sound" logic. All hat, no cranial matter. Simple as that.

6:14 PM  
Professor Blogger Big Gav said...

I like the post, but I'll note that I wouldn't label Mr Hemenway a Viridian - Viridians are technophiles who believe (in good faith) that environmental problems by the application of technological (or at least scientific) solutions.

Whereas many traditional greens (and I guess permaculturists are in this category) tend to consider science and technology part of the problem...

2:45 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Thanks, Big Gav, I think I got it, it would classify as veridian if the permaculture had an embedded microchip, right?

11:47 PM  

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