Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Nation: Peak Oil and the Changing Climate

Times are so bad that even an overtly political entity such as The Nation has been forced to start acknowledging reality. Thanks to Karen and Greg for rounding up the usual suspects (Richard Heinberg, Nicole Foss, Bill McKibben, James Kunstler and me) plus, for added gravitas, I suppose, Noam Chomsky. You might think that Peak Oil and climate change are liberal issues; that's like saying that death is a conservative issue. Here is the part of the series that's been released so far. All the speakers on the video are great, especially my two minutes of it (one at 4:00, the other at 14:00). The full interview with me will be up in February.


Anonymous said...

Nice interviews all around. I've never seen such a prestigious and insightful group explain just how severely we're screwed. The convergence between intensifying propaganda in the US and the shortening environmental fuse is profound, in a face-down-in-the-gutter-wearing-a-$3000-suit kind of way.

National Geographic's got a new "7 Billion [World Population]" issue, but be of good cheer. Apparently that's not a serious problem, either.

Thardiust said...

Wow, I can't believe what I'm seeing. It must be a dream.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Whenever climate change is mentioned on this blog, I get to delete comments from the corporate shills who get paid to deny climate science and the many idiots who are misled by them. The chance of them getting their inane, suicidal viewpoint across on this blog is exactly zero. The chance of their heads exploding as a result of that: lower than we would like.

Marcellina said...

Excellent. Thank you posting this, I wouldn't have known of it otherwise.

DeVaul said...

Will there be a transcription of this video? I am Deaf, and I would like to know what everyone is saying. Hope someone will transcibe it soon. Thanks.

Dmitry Orlov said...

DeVaul -

I have all the transcripts and can send them to people if they request them directly. I don't have permission to post them publicly (yet). Please email me directly (first name dot last name at

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. Several of my favorite collapsitarians. ClubOrlov and TheAutomaticEarth are two sites I check daily for updates.

It would be nice to get Joe Bageant in on the act too, for some added color.

I'll be looking forward to the upcoming video installments.

My donkey said...

I found the embedded video on The Nation to be so broken & disjointed as to be unlistenable. By contrast, the original on youtube is perfect.

Michael Dawson said...

No offense, but Chomsky's there to explain exactly what he explains: The institutional sociology of elite inaction/efforts to suppress awareness. You may not think politics matters even potentially, but this is hardly just burnishment.

This thing gives me some (not much but some) hope that The Nation might snap out of its nauseating fealty to the Democratic Party.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Michael -

Chomsky is as Chomsky does. How many years has it been since he pointed out that the function of America's elites is to create a fake reality, and that they are basically in a suicide pact? Thank you, but we know that. How is it relevant to explain the irrelevancy of the irrelevant to the irrelevant? What am I supposed to do with his explanation? Should I flap my gums about it, à la Chomsky, or I should get physical about and twinkle my toes instead? Chomsky said: "We are basically kissing each other good bye." What tender feelings! I suppose he's been imprisoned in his ivory tower so long that he's come to love his prisoners.

DeVaul said...

I don't know what Chomsky's views are these days, but I must credit him for opening my eyes to the real America. If I had not read his book "For Reasons of State" while studying linguistics in Germany 25 years ago, I might still be ignorant of what our government is really about.

It may indeed be pointless to talk about the American political class at this point in time, but some people still hold out hopes for a political change. This is, perhaps, one of the flaws of idealists as opposed to realists.

Regardless, he was a very brave man at a time when bravery was in very short supply.

Nyc Labretš said...

Here's some USSR/USA CollapseMaths I just did.

For fun, out of curiosity, I calculated the 2 following sets of Date Ranges:

Fr: 09 Nov 1989 Berlin Wall Falls
To: 31 Dec 1991 USSR Dissolution

It is 782 days from the start date to the end date.
Or 2 years, 1 month, 22 days.

Fr: 15 Sep 2008 Wall Street Lehman Bros Fall
To: 02 Nov 2010 USA Democratic Party Dissolution

It is 779 days from the start date to the end date.
Or 2 years, 1 month, 19 days.

All of 3 days worth difference between the two sets of events.

Maybe there is something to those USSR/USSA parallels after all.

Key difference being, for sake of argument, the Soviet was out of its Afghanistan Adventure almost 2 years before the band stopped playing for them back home.

TragedyOfTheComments said...

The natural disasters just get more spectacular and underscore the commentary in this video. The recent flooding of a third of the northeast Australian state of Queensland is a case in point.

xbornstubbornx said...

DeVaul, until you're provided with the transcription you can use the CC function on Youtube:
go to the direct video link -, at the right lower corner of the video frame click CC, wait a couple of seconds, then point the mouse at the CC icon again and you'll see the pop-up menu, from which choose "Transcribe Audio (beta)." Then it will warn you of something again, just click OK and enjoy. The job it does isn't too great (I've checked the performance of CC at this video, approx. every 20'th word is mistranscribed), but it's definitely a lot better than nothing.
As for Chomsky, he does exactly what the teacher at the university is supposed to do: repeats the same things over and over again, year after year to the new students. It's a very tedious job and I don't think he enjoys it very much, especially at his age, when he can barely talk. Surely, we heard that many times already, understand the situation without Chomsky's speculations and shouldn't really care, but in the same manner we learned to read, write and count from somebody and that somebody might have taught many other people the same exact things. On the other hand, if you have that guy in the same video with the ones you care about, that's almost a guarantee that this time more people will be attracted to the subject. And that, in a way, is awesome, because we all live on one planet and can't afford playing enlightened elites anymore.

michigan native said...

A great reinforcement for Dmitry's theory, only too bad so many people do not realize the nightmare that awaits us here in the US. It is gaining momentum (the collapse process) They still think a 'recovery' is happening, despite all the "painful" budget cuts being proposed by broke governments all over the US, the foreclosures, the boarded up strip malls, the unemployment lines and benefits running out, as people's minds start to snap. They still think that there will always be more oil, that technology will save us, that there will be "endless sunshine and free ice cream" here. I can never read or watch enough interviews. Gerald Celente from the trends institute is another good source for information.

Chomsky is a bit long winded for me, Michael Parenti is more eloquent and to the point when it comes to learning how the US system works and for whose benefit, but those are soon to become minor footnotes in the ash heaps of another failed empire.

Try to emigrate out of the US will there is still time or get used to communal arrangements where you share responsibilities and cooperate, and grow your own food. Those are two life boats that Dmitry has proposed, the ship has taken on water (debt) and soon to nose dive to the bottom and taking perhaps millions of unwary souls who chose not to prepare, to stay in denial. You don't have to be one of them.

Butch said...

Chomsky-- aside from inventing, and then re-inventing, modern linguistics-- has been exhaustively documenting the machinatiosn of American Empire since the 1960s.

One reason why liberals hate him as much as they do the Right (ever seen a Chomsky book reviewed int he NYT?) is that he refuses to play games of ideology: he does not use the false blather of "left" and "right", or the theoretical aparati of the academics, but he calls it like it is. The American Empire exists to keep its citizens calm, its rulers rich, and the rest of the world in line. Always has, and, as long as it exists, always will.

Butch said...

Thanks you, Dimitri, for your thoughtful and often hilarious commentary. Shoudl you ever sail yoru boat to Vancouver, BC, dinner is on me!

michigan native said...

Saying that "liberals" hate Chomsky buys into the myth that there is some "liberal" media out there. Progressive writers like Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti are routinely excluded out of the mainstream, corporate media. What some may view as "liberal" commentaries are but luke warm criticisms of establishment values. Stray far beyond that and your story will likely be censored, not make it to the headlines, and your career shortened or eliminated. The myth of "free speech" in the US, like the myth of the "liberal media", simply do not exist. As the expatriate author of "Grim News" pointed out in an eloquent post here at cluborlov, do we ever see or hear of an article that suggests that we cut military spending to fund a single payer helathcare system? How many of you knew that Russia and China just agreed to dump the dollar in their bilateral trade? Or that China had made a similar agreement with Brazil and are most certianly going to continue efforts to dismantle not only China but the rest of the world this paper, fiat currency?

Point is, there is nothing "liberal" about the media or the system in general. It is all bought and sold. Candidates talk of "change we can believe in" and nothing changes, which only proves that any political solution is a complete delusion and a waste of time. Politicians range from center to far right to fascist and that is all the system will allow. They ran the USS America aground so if we ever get any kind of system up again, we can never allow them to come crawling out from under their rocks and try to take the helm again.

forrest said...

A good interview, 'What you've been saying all along' plus updates...

People who've gotten reasonably competent at organic gardening are supposed to be able to get yields /acre much better than oil-based agriculture, which is mainly "efficient" in terms of yield/workhour. (I'm not sure of the entire truth of this, but Cuba is supposed to have done better at food production after the Russian collapse + US embargo led to serious malnuitrition & the need to change methods...)

Given the supply of former employees & former bosses we could expect to have available after a serious collapse, plus stockpiles of leftover precollapse horseshit, shouldn't it be possible to prevent a lot of dieoff? All that would seem needed would be a willingness to work together & learn from those more experienced at this... (Okay, we're screwed!-- but seriously, it's a lot easier to examine someone's credentials as an organic farmer-- having enough food to keep a few people eating while they work-- than it (evidently) is to evaluate the competence and sanity of political expertise.) Some mitigating potential here?...