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Page added on July 25, 2011

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Peak Everything?

General Ideas

I always enjoy Randall Parker’s take on things over at Parapundit. He writes a lot of fine gloomy stuff about Peak Oil.

I missed this link of his from back in May, though. It’s to an article in the Energy Bulletin taking resource alarmism to the next level: Peak Everything!

After drinking deep from this well of pessimism, I thought I’d take a reality check, so I emailed my commodities guy — Tom over at Radio Free New Jersey. What did he think of the article?

Tom came back with an eminently sensible reply, quoted here with permission.

Scarcity is the final fact of life I think, but there are many more things that will affect commodity prices than Malthusian concerns. I don’t dispute this stuff. I don’t think anyone does. But technology keeps pushing out the drop dead date, and if we have another deflationary spike (be it default inspired, Chinese real estate bubble or whatever) it could be a very long time before this sort of thing becomes a first concern.

As an example, I don’t see Greek demand for steel shooting up anytime soon.

National Review

2 Comments on "Peak Everything?"

  1. DC on Mon, 25th Jul 2011 9:08 pm 

    No technology is NOT saveing us. What it is doing, is comeing up with ‘substitues’ that are often inferior to what they replaced, and toxic in almost every case. Food is a good example. Industrial Pseudo-food replaced real food some time ago. And thanks to lots of subsidies, clever marketing and generous helping of mystery chemicals and ‘flavoring'(thats the technology part at work), most people were sold on the idea what they were eating was actually food,and that is was ‘cheap’ as a bonus.

    Now they want to water down actual gas with some psuedo-gas(bio-fools, technology at work again see?).

    Im sure you can think of many examples, they are not hard to find. The crappy over-priced condo my folks bought is full of industrial substitutes, from fake ‘hardwood’ floors, to sorta-wood constrution. All very high-tech,toxic and utter garbage.

  2. Tom on Tue, 26th Jul 2011 12:08 pm 

    How do you define “inferior”? By inferior to you mean that it meets the same technical or nutritional specifications but costs less? do you mean that it’s easier to handle and therefore requires less labor to produce or maintain?

    Do you have any evidence to support your view that modern products are more “toxic” than the things they replaced?

    You need to recognize that just because you feel something is ‘inferior’ doesn’t actually make it so. The car is judged as ‘superior’ to the horse both individually and in aggregate, even if you like horses better. If it wasn’t, then the car would have died out long ago and we’d all be on horseback.

    That condo provides a more comfortable living standard at a much lower cost to your parents than Queen Victoria had when she moved into Buckingham palace.
    They are warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and can control their space with the flick of a switch.

    Just because you prefer a cabin in the woods with a wood stove doesn’t mean that everything else is ‘toxic’.

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