All bets are off

There are two or three famous bets that cornucopians trot out, along with Mores Law (I’ll do a post on that soon) .

The idea is that if population failed to top so-and-so, or if the price of oil failed to rise to so-and-so, or if the price of houses failed to drop by so-and-so, by such-and-such a time, then that proves they never will.


Here’s the way it is:  One day you will die – we all do. Every day you are alive, you can bet that you’ll be alive tomorrow. Every day you will collect. Except the last one. What doesn’t change one iota, is the fact that one day you’ll be dead. That is immutable fact, as is the point that finite resources deplete, populations overshoot and/or crash.

So the famous Urlich and Simmons and Keen bets, were stupid on both sides of the ledger. Urlich is ultimately right about population, it’s not an ‘if’, it’s a ‘when’. Simmons was absolutely right about oil becoming scarce…..but (and it’s an interesting comment to make about a merchant banker specialising in energy) he failed to realise that if energy underwrites all econoic activity, then there may well be a self-destruct ‘price’ above which it cannot hoist itself by it’s bootstraps. Icertainly wouldn’t be betting that it could. Keen may be right too – house ‘prices’ may come down in $ numbers. He fails to ascertain whether incomes are going to hold up in the interim, though. The ability to buy is equally curtailed by the one as by the other.

There have been a couple of commentators on, who miss this point. One – when I made the comment that I’d seen Peak Oil coming since 1975 – said “you’ve been wrong every year since, then”. No, I was it coming now, then. So much assumption, so much taking for granted, so much failing to ascertain. Another called several of us ‘peak oil freaks’, which is interesting on several levels. First, he clearly thinks he’s got a superior view, but doesn’t back it up with facts, hell, even fact singular would do. Then, if he thinks dispassionately, he’s just had a lesson on what discipline has the ‘right’ of it. The Canty earthquake was brought to you,  courtesy of mother nature, and physics. Nothing else. Money didn’t feature. Which begs the question: to which discipline should we affix the label ‘freaks’?

I suggest growth-based economics. It’s so ‘last century’. Bet on it.


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