The Die Off

   That website and particulary the 'Olduvai' Theory of Industrial Civilization collapse is slickly packaged.  So were the Club of Rome's findings in 1970, and a host of Environmental Doomsdayers ever since.  It sells even better than Armageddon does for Falwell and Lindsey.  I still remember a newspaper article from the early 1970s.  According to that we were all going to be wearing gas masks now because the air would be so polluted.  Paul Ehrlich told us all in the early 1970s that we'd all be starving now.  The last time I talked to farmers their biggest concern was getting tariff protection from foreign imports.  The only instances of starvation we've seen since Ehrlich blew his gas were the result of official government policy (Ethiopia) or war (Somalia, Uganda, Sudan).

    Here's the inherent problem with all of these doomsday scenarios.  They always depend on a static analysis that assumes there will never be any change in the variables and also fails to take account of qualitative adjustments between countries.  It's the mistake Malthus made and his followers have been making it ever since.  Malthus wrote his projections over a hundred years before the supposed start of industrial civilization in 1930 according to the Olduvai Theory.

   In this instance the projecting is done by an electric utility engineer who damn well should have known better.  He took oil production as the determinant of industrial energy potentials.  He's clearly unfamiliar with the structure of Europe's electric generation industry.  Nuclear, natural gas, coal and hydro are the primary fuels.   His next major error was in adding in non-electric consumers to his calculated electrical grid burden.  Even the simple method of taking a continental approach would have revealed to him the fallacy of his ways.  According to his 'Olduvai Theory' the present populations of China, Indonesia and India are mathematical and scientific impossibilities.

  His last error was in assuming that the 'population boom' was solely the result of increased energy availabilities.  It was not.  It was the result of improved simple sanitation methods, pesticides, antibiotics and vaccinations.   For instance, it was only in World War 1 that actual combat began producing more military casualties than disease during the course of a campaign.  Populations have increased most rapidly in exactly those areas that have never seen, and may never see, an electric distribution grid.  Populations blossomed not because of increased energy distribution but because of the extinction of malaria, dysenteria, yellow fever, small pox, bubonic plague, typhoid and typhus.

   He's also back to the old 'non-renewable resources' tom-tom.  The next time someone tries to sell you that snake oil, be sure to check the commodities prices at the Chicago Board of Trade and the New York Mercantile Exchange before you buy it.  Down in Chile and Peru they're closing copper mines for lack of buyers.  That's because the telephone company doesn't buy much copper anymore.  They buy fibre optic cable made from silicon.  Paper is at an all time low and nearly all commodity indexes are flat on their butts.

   Our crisis is a renewable resource commodity deficit of I.Q. points per human being.