Saturday, July 30, 2011

Does Glenn Beck understand "Peak Oil"?

I just read this interesting article which makes the case that the Tea Party at some level understands that continued growth is becoming a problem, and that is why they want to gut the federal government. Now I think they want to cut all the wrong things, but fundamentally if growth is slowing then we will have to cut back our expectations of what the government can do as well. The standard 'liberal' response - Keynesian stimulus to get growth to return is probably not going to help much this time.

The other evidence I offer up is on page 94 of Glenn Beck's book "An Inconvenient Book". Glenn Beck has been loosely associated with the Tea Party movement although I don't know if he officially considers himself a member. I don't normally watch Mr. Beck or read or buy his books, but this one was left in my house recently. Now this book which was copyright in 2007 has a worthless chapter on climate change. However, on page 94 the book states:

"It may not be a widely advertised fact, but US oil production peaked way back in 1970. Now attention has shifted to another, more important peak: the global one. Even the most optimistic among us believe that peak will happen within the next 25 years. Many of the, let's call them "less optimistic" people, believe it will happen within the next five years. Some even believe that it's already happened."

So Beck (or at least his ghostwriter) understands the Peak Oil problem and did in 2007 - way before I had ever heard of it. The whole chapter is about peak oil, and does a credible job of explaining it, even showing a Hubbert Peak graph, talks about the lack of available substitutes, the problems with ethanol, etc. He even says Jimmy Carter had the right idea way back in the 70's! I was astonished to see this in a "Tea Party" book. Now his proposed short-term solution is horrific - a crash 'coal to liquids' program which would effectively kill the planet via global warming, but Mr. Beck denies that particular problem.

The question is, can an understanding of peak oil be used in some way to forge a common ground between sustainability advocates and 'tea partiers' ? A lot of what we advocate is just good old frugalism, resilience, do-it-yourself kind of stuff which should have great appeal to the tea party as I understand it. If common ground can be found, might some be willing to listen to reason on other issues like climate change, sustainable living, etc. and not just think its all a giant UN plot to foist socialism on us?

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