Delaney: "What to do in a failing civilization"  (snippets under the fold)
Can global civilization adapt successfully to degradation of the biosphere and depletion of fossil fuels? I argue that it cannot. Important elements of all constituent societies would have to be reformed. Reform would have to be radical and would be uncertain of success.

It could be undertaken only in the presence of incontrovertible necessity--a necessity that will reveal itself incontrovertibly only when catastrophic collapse has become unavoidable. I conclude that those who seek to preserve civilization should plan for its survival in restricted regions.

The nature and scale of our economic behavior is reducing the capacity of the Earth to support us in the future. The list is long: destruction of biological diversity, over fishing, ozone holes, aquifer depletion, the drying up of rivers and lakes, the pollution of ground water with salt and industrial chemicals, soil degradation, desertification, fossil fuel depletion, mineral depletion, and climate change.

In spite of these trends, we demand more from the Earth each year. The demographers say that there will be 8 or 9 billion of us in 2050, absent intervening catastrophe, just when some of these trends will have reached their full destructive capacity, and all of them will be working furiously to demolish the support Earth lends us. Can we react in time to oppose these trends effectively?

I wish he weren't so articulate at voicing my darkest fears.
Well, yes.  All this talk about this much oil or that much oil is one thing, but that Dr Albert Bartlett mov on population growth is hard to forget.
I have been reading history for years, and nowhere have I come across a large civilization that has successfully navigated resource depletion. But if you look at things on a local level, then it becomes pretty clear that people will survive. What is lost is that thin veneer of civilization. History is replete, on every continent, with the rise and fall of various empires and societies.

Things are different today because of a single thing - petroleum. This resource has been the enabler of every single device we consider "modern technology". It has been the enabler of our world's first global society. We are all aware, instantaneously aware, of what transpires anywhere on earth for the first time in history.

It's not just Peak Oil, it's the whole overshoot dilemma beginning to catch up with us - PO is just the first to grab our modern way of life by the throat.

Japan survived an approaching deforestation crisis in the 17th century.  The authoritarian Shogunate implemented strictly enforced rationing and strong centralized control over reforestation.  It's covered in Jared Diamond's book.  The equivalent events in 17th century Europe led to the coal-based industrial revolution, but Japan managed to navigate the transition without doing that, and only industrialized much later when faced with external competition from Europeans.
Well, Athens had another solution for the problem of deforestation of Attica. Intensive imperialism in order to import wood from the Black Sea. They needed the wood to produce energy for the silver mines.
Japan managed to industrialize because they had coal. The coal deposits around Nagasaki were known before the Meiji restoration. They never had as much coal as the British but enough to start. Besides Japan did expand to North, to Hokkaido, where there was large forests. Later they seized the forests of Southern Sakhalin, and Taiwan (with some coal and forests). All these resources could be reached by sea.

But of course we can see the scarcity of wood in the Japanese building and life style.

David Delaney is an acquaintance and a former employer of mine. When I became interested in Peak Oil a while ago, Google searches turned up his articles. He is one of the smartest, more realistic people I know, and is among the least intellectually compromising. He has my utmost respect for his thorougness and rigour.  He's seen this catastrophe coming for four years now, and has been diligently refining his comprehension of the issues over that time.

As the article demonstrates, he is deeply pessimistic. I believe his pessimism is well founded, and share it myself. He is firmly convinced that the human species is in overshoot, that a die-off is coming, that there is nothing we can do to avoid it, and that denial of this understanding is nothing more than comforting delusion. I agree with him.

I also agree with him that die-off will affect only about 80% or 90% of the species, and that the remaining 10% to 20% will be able to survive if they are in the right circumstances. The problem is to determine what those survivable circumstances are, and if you aren't in them to determine how to get there.

One thing he doesn't mention in his article is the time-line. This is largely determined by oil, of course. From conversations with him, coupled with my own research, I am convinced that the industrial societies are about five years (ten at the outside) away from the first undeniable evidence of collapse. In fact, the first signal - high and unstable fuel prices - are with us already.

The whole notion of obershoot/dieoff sucks and is very uncomfortable to contemplate on a personal level. Delaney frankly says that this understanding has wrecked his life. But if our civilization does not listen to its Cassandras - the Dave Delaneys, Colin Campbells, Matthew Simmons, James Kunstlers, Matt Savinars, Ken Deffeyes etc. - we will all be screwed, instead of just 85% of us.

Even having read LATOC, I question what one can do to survive, to help one's children and family survive a die-off.  I suspect that the changes will be overwhelming.  No matter what you've got stashed away, if you're in the wrong place, you'll be a casualty.  All you can do is try to improve your odds a bit.  
"that die-off will affect only about 80% or 90% of the species, and that the remaining 10% to 20% will be able to survive"

Thanks, I feel so much better now

I've considered this whole die-off issue as well.  Ive' read Overshoot and Collapse this or that.  I've had problems with industrial society for a long time, and have mentioned on other boards my reading of Huxley's Island years ago.  I drive through a city like Los Angeles and I think "what a bloody mess."  And as a student of Buddhism, I'm quite familiar with and readily accept the concept of impermanence and suffering.  With that in mind, I do have to ask:  why does the idea of die-off wreck Delaney's life?  Is he so self-important?  Does he consider his species so important?  And this idea that one must take steps to preserve the self:  that's nothing more than what got us into this mess in the first place, at least from several perspectives.

The idea that an individual needs to propagate his/her genes, his/her name (one of the most idiotic concepts I've come across) by winning the "overshoot lottery" etc is just plain self-serving, self-important, and pathetic in my mind. Yet that's what I'm commonly hearing: "Humans are in overshoot, there are too many of us, and I'VE GOT TO SAVE MYSELF AND MY FAMILY."  Can't you agree there is something just a little pathetic about this.

And let's face it, the reason Delaney doesn't give a date or timeline is because he doesn't know.  He's got a feeling, I'm sure.  Jevon was stockpiling for the end of the coal age oh so long ago. His feeling didn't pan out for at least a hundred years after his death.  Lot of good that stockpiling did.

Does this mean we don't have problems?  Of course not.  But the self-serving whining and moaning and pittying for self and species that I come across when dealing with the issue of peak oil is rather nauseating at times.  It's like a car crash, I suppose: people are obsessed with the morbid.

Propagate is what species do.  They expand until the environment puts brakes on them.  Humans are trickier than other species.  But evolution no doubt leads invariably down a planetary path like the one humans have taken.  What humans are doing is no different than other species, only on a broader scale.  And certainly no different than what mother nature has done time and time again--asteroids, volcanoes, ice ages, and the likes.

So with that in mind, I'm just baffled when I hear people who read about peak oil and then start moaning and blathering about their livelihoods, their kids, etc etc etc.  I have two kids.  I'm in the same boat as everyone else.  But the common response--"woe is me" and "I've got to build a lifeboat" is annoying.

Without passing judgment on the whole die-off issue, I would respectfully suggest that we all step lightly when talking about other people's reactions to such weighty topics.  Many people, possibly (and possibly not) including Delaney, are depressed over what they perceive is coming simply out of concern for all the people who will suffer and/or die a premature death.  It might not be as personal as how their own relative or their family name survives.

While I agree that the family name business is silly, trying to save one's family definitely does not strike me as pathetic.  I have no children, but it does pain me to think of what my three nieces and the neighborhood kids my wife and I have grown attached to will face.  

I think you're absolutely right that we should spend less time hand wringing and more time doing something about our situation.  But trying to educate people about this looming situation is one hell of a tough job...

I agree with you wholeheartedly.  But still want to add that suffering is a fact.  Everyone is going to die. Everyone.  If not sooner, later.  So it's just a matter of how.  And when.  Most children in the past never had a chance to grow up. Now they do, and we face a different set of problems.  It's the price we pay.  And it's the same with the human race.  Mortal.  Sooner or later.

And I also take issue with the missed targets of those in the doom and gloom boat.  It's not that I don't understand all the issues, the problems, the overshoot, the islandization of ecosystems, etc etc.  But we still don't know the timing.  Anyone who says "five years" or "ten years" is pulling numbers out of the seat of their pants.

And..suppose we are in the final years of industrial civilization.  I personally think there is a lot of demand destruction to go around before we even approach the standard of living of, say, 1930.  Will people be eating people by then?  I'm just not betting on it.  But others can think so if it suits their fancy.  But suppose we are in the final years.  It's like sitting in a life boat.  There are people who are always sighting a ship on the horizon.  And others always whining and complaining about their lost futures.  To both I say "shut the F*** up and just enjoy the reflection of the sun on the water."  At I call them the hopelessly optimistic and the hopelessly hopeless respectively.  All hopeless.  I'm into realism.  Whatever it may bring.

The How and When are precisely what worry me.  
> To both I say "shut the F*** up and just enjoy the reflection of the sun on the water."

That is a good strategy for saving energy when nothing can be done, good for survival.

The only thing that matters is in a way survival since what dies becomes irrelevant.

Prof. Goose:  As I recall, you have been pretty hard on Kuntsler.  But Delaney is saying much the same thing.  Can you say more?  Do you find Delaney's arguments more pursuasive and less vitriolic?  Do you disagree with him and are posting him as a FYI kinda post?
A fair note, YS.  And my answer is: a little bit of both.  

I think I am harder on Kunstler at times because he is a more inviting target, yes.  But as Jamais said over at WorldChanging, all the Cassandras are a necessary part of change.

Yes, I think Delaney makes the case a little bit more scientifically and in a manner similar to Diamond et al in this piece, in a language that scientists can better relate to.  

However, I still think we have the ingenuity and creativity as a race to solve this problem, but with each day that passes where it is not our primary focus, my heart gets a little more troubled.  

There's a lot of evidence of various die-offs that have occurred.  However, various species were not humans with creativity and ingenuity.  Examples also exist at the human level but even the Easter Islanders that Diamond uses as one of his examples do not have today's technological capacity.

We can do this.  I just fear that the collective notion is so far away from us that it's just not going to be possible until too late.  I truly hope that I am wrong...

Well, PG, some people had the foresight and people generally had the ingenuity and creativity to prevent the flooding of New Orleans. I believe this presents us with a microcosm for the larger problem Delaney dicusses. Many people, including reporters from the Times-Picayune, published warnings that came to pass.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I think a lot of us are riding a post-Katrina depression.  It is unfortunately a good parallel to peak oil (or global warming).  It's a problem predicted/understood by scientists, but put off by politicians as too expensive and depressing, or worse yet used as an excuse to satisfy special interests.
"[H]is examples do not have today's technological capacity."

I think the more relevant difference isn't technology, but a lack of homgeneity (there is no global 'culture' imposing (the same) destructive impulses, combined with comunication between, (and even knowledge of) ouside groups that will be humanities saving grace, and the problem with comparing the history the demise of past cultures and humanity as a whole.

As an aside, has anyone read Niven's "A Mote in God's Eye?"  This Sci-fi book talks of a global civilization that repreatedly crashes due to mamoth over population, but has made progress from colapse to colapse by building museums and such like to teach the future faster than learning from scratch.  This also is a major difference betwen global cultural evolution its indidvidual societies.  groups may not learn from their own mistatkes, but groups might learn from other groups.

Yes, I wish our contractors could hire some Moties.  Niven and Pournelle came up with a surprisingly good sequel, "The Gripping Hand," too.  I guess we'll have to destroy all those car-chase movies or we're leaving behind the wrong message.
Regarding "A Mote in God's Eye", i read shortly ago a fascinating essay in a very similar vein:  Living at the fulcrum. The author essentially claims that mankind is approaching a historical crossroads: Either our technical civilization transcends soon the limits of Earth and heads into space or it will never do so. This would be precisely for the same reason described in a "A Mote in God's Eye": Mankind is in the process of "burning it's bridges", consuming every easily available sources of raw materials and energy. After a possible collapse of our civilization (most certainly not in 5 or 10 years time, but a distinct possibility within  this century) any subsequent civilization would face extreme difficulties to reach the same level of civilization.
I wonder about the cost of supporting colonies on other planets.  Our system doesn't seem too promising for self-sustaining colonies, and we don't seem ready to send the Robinsons to Alpha Centauri, either.  

BTW, the chilling thing about, "The Mote in God's Eye" was that our heroes, Blaine, Sally, etc., worked under a government that saw fit to put down a rebellion by exterminating all residents of a planet colony.  

Did anyone see Vonnegut on The Daily Show?  He looks like Mark Twain, and is just as sharp.

I saw him on that show and I agree with your comments.
The Delaney article comes from a special 9/2005 edition of Proceedings of the Canadian Club of Rome related to oil. They are good academic conference paper treatments of the peak oil issue, with references. The entire proceedings is available as a 28 page pdf:

Well worth a read.

Chicken Little is often ostracized for saying "The Sky Is Falling!"

From Delaney:
Important psychological barriers stand in the way of understanding that dreams must be canceled and replaced by much more modest ambitions. The psychological barriers cannot be overcome by agreeing that the dreams are not threatened, but tacit agreement is implied when the taboo against "alarmism" is respected. Only epiphany or a shocking and credible threat will overcome those barriers. Epiphany is too rare to produce social change. That leaves the shocking and credible threat. Who, other than a few marginalized academics and some isolated commentators, would explain the overshoot trap to the public?
In these words we find the major impediment to acknowledgement of probable collapse.

In my view, TOD is a community based on the idea that peak oil means we're in Big Trouble if we don't change our ways of living pretty damn quick. But I have also seen a typical mode of reaction here, echoing the predictable responses in the MSM, that spells trouble for the person who does not adhere to the taboo against alarmism. I suppose you can argue that alarmism does no good but soft-pedaling the truth doesn't work either.
Regarding soft pedaling the truth, it depends on just what "truth" you are talking about.  Future predictions are not truth.

Depending on just which factors I'm letting into my head at any time, it's very hard to try and predict what even I think will happen, much less what will happen.  Leaving out the possibility of "and then a miracle occurs" regarding energy generation, I think it's safe to say that all hear at TOD believe that we will not suddenly "run out" of energy.  It's only the end of  cheap/plentiful (essentially they're the same thing) energy which we are talking about.

While I can see people rioting over fuel prices, and a lot of griping and civil unrest regarding energy, I can't say that I forsee any overthrown first world nations.  I don't forsee that this can't happen, but I can't guarantee it.  I can forsee a lot of people losing their houses because of temporary cheap credit and pay interest only unless you want to pay a bit more home loans with no money down which will likely disappear with cheap energy.  And some will end up homeless, others may end up in relatives homes.

But will it be the end of the world if 2-3 families start living in 3 bedroom apartments?  Will it be the end of the world that a lot of the manufacturing of bobble heads and other assorted non-essential consumables?  Uncomfortable, interesting (read: stressing) times, but not the end of the world.

But it could end up being the end of the "civilized" world.  There could be a giant economic back lash against the money systems when energy constaints are hardest, and nothing might come up.  People might start revolting and civil servants give up when the government either stops issuing checks, or no banks are open to cash the checks.

But unless tomorrow the world falls right into 5%+ depletion a year or greater starting immediately I have to say that I think that society will continue to limp and crawl along and just have to internalize that things get worse each year instead of better.  Infant mortality rates will creep up, and at the same time, lower birth rates in the first world also might not go up resulting in a smaller population which might help counteract the shrinking economy.

However I also think that with that realization some people will set out to change things.  And again, I'm discounting "and then a miracle occurs," but what about a bunch of sustainable communes setting up outside the confines of the cities/suburbia?  They can trade a bit of money and some compost from the water refining/recycling services of the city for food that the 10-40 person collective is able to put out.  Again, on the communes it will be people dealing with having less, likely there will only be small single rooms, and possibly two people per room.  However, the community formed around the people trusting each other might end in more happiness.  Certainly more happiness than being just as cramped in the city, but with having to worry about food.

In short (too late), if you say that it is a truth that currently our society is very dependent upon fossil fuels, I will say that I agree that it's a truth.  If you say anything about the future, I can remark about your prediction, but it's only a prediction, not truth.  I could mail myself via next day post a letter, and I it wouldn't be truth that I'd get the letter.  It would only be truth to say that I'd either get the letter or have a valid complaint against the post office.

And while a lot of the middle paragraphs might have sounded like I was trying to pass predictions off as truth, but they were meant instead to be predictions of how some of the effects might work out.  But they really are only meant as predictions; the rotten truth is that we do not know what will happen.  Heck, most of us would be ecstatic to actually know what is happening now (I.E. fossil fuel transparency, closed room upper lever government meetings, etc).

All I said was "peak oil means we're in Big Trouble if we don't change our ways of living pretty damn quick". That's the truth to which I was referring, an opinion shared by Duffeyes, Simmons, Campbell, Heinberg, Darley, Hirsch etc. And of course "peak oil" doesn't mean we're running out of oil, it means we've run out of cheap oil. If you believe, as many do (including me) that the build-up of Western Civilization in the 20th century was entirely dependent on low cost fossil fuels, then its not hard to "predict" trouble when these are no longer cheap.

Also, "collapse" is poorly defined here and does not necessarily mean a large "die-off". It would certainly mean the end of "business as usual" and that many people's lives will be harder than they are now.
I would agree with this.  However something that I will note is that other posts of yours I've gotten a feeling of a little bit of dooms day calling.  I can't point to anything specific (much less a specific post) but it's something which I had associated with you.  I want to be clear that I'm not trying to resort to any name calling, but if I've sensed this, than others might also have, and responded in kind which might be the soft pedaling that you've witnessed.  Regardless of whether or not there's anything to sense.

That said, I'm sure that some of my posts give off that scent as well.  Perhaps if there's a see saw in your mind over just how bad things might be the emotions related to whether it's see or saw come through into one's writing.

You said "something that I will note is that other posts of yours I've gotten a feeling of a little bit of dooms day calling. I can't point to anything specific..."

Since human life appears to be a never ending Greek or Shakespearian tragedy in which the blind lead the blind into disaster, you needn't mince words. I think, given the peak oil situation, ecological breakdown, population overshoot and climate change, that we're fucked.
Damn. Just when I'd come to terms with what peak oil is. Now I'm back to die-off.

Whenever I read the die-off scenarios, I'm not so scared for myself. If I don't survive, well, I don't survive. So if these guys are right, then the question always returns to whether—knowing what we know—people should be having babies or not. Do we really want to bring children into the world if we have to raise them in the world that's Kunstler's or Delaney's worst nightmare (if we can even keep them alive at all)?

Some people would say that the world will go on—you might as well try to make your child a survivor in the new society. I'm not sure I agree.

(Oh, and yes, I'm totally serious about this, but to answer this question, you have to assume the scenario in which these guys are right.)

A damned good question, and I wish I knew the answer.
There is no shortage of "energy".
There is no scientific necessity for "die-off".
Get those two washed-in brain programs out of your head.

Picture our planet. Our Earth is swinging in its wide orbit around an immense fusion pile, a.k.a. the Sun. Each day we intercept just a teeny-tiny fraction of the solar energy passing through the spherical shell of our orbit. We Humans simply have not figured out how to intercept and intelligently route more of that energy towards our planet surface for use on an "as-needed" basis. The energy can be used to desalinate the immense amounts of ocean water that cover 3/4's of our planet's surface. The energy can be used to pump excess heat out to space.

Like the case for many a "collapsed" society (Jared Diamond style), the problem is our insane religions and cultures. We worship an invisible hand (Adam Smith's hand) and endow it with "wisdom". How sick is that? The human race suffers from a mental disease, not from a shortage of "energy". The job here at TOD should include giving the race some psychotherapy. Number one is denial of the Peak Oil problem. Number two is continued worship of "The Hand".

p.s. check out today's posting at earth-family:

Heck, even before any die-off scenarios there was always the question of whether you can guarantee your child a happy life.  And you can't.  I got my vasectomy ... wow, 6 years ago now.  Part of it is that I had some particularly unhappy moments of existence, and the thought of having to possibly witness a child I brought into this world undergoing said moments sealed the deal for me.  Additionally I know that a lot of my genes wouldn't be fair to pass on to someone else, and still further to add to things is the fact that I'd be instinctively drawing on a lot of parenting memes which I greatly disagree with.

But regardless of my additional personal resaons, in a world where one can't guarantee happiness (which is this world, whether first or third.  On earth, a lot of bad things happen), I can't see breeding as a moral thing to do.  But I also know that moralism is relative.

From 1939-41 there was a debate in the US about joining the UK in the war. FDR wanted to but the overwhelming majority of Americans opposed him. Some even publiclly sided with Hitler. It took the Japanese attacks on Hawaii and the Phillipines to bring to the serious changes in attitude and behavior which eventually led to victory. This is an example of what Al Gore called threshold politics. Things have to get very bad for the public to change its preference for a devil may care attitude and vote out the people who denied there was a problem.
Sorry, but I just can't resist the temptation!

Here is an interesting link:

Looked at the blog on debunking peakoil and does not seem worth my time unless any of you found some hidden gems in what they spout.

As for the die-off argument, I have a biology undergrad and it is true that species die out, far more than they persevere, at least in the long run.  The argument that our ingenuity could change this is possible but... this ingenuity requires that a capacity for action must be maintained to use it as collapse approaches -- the collapse of civil society by war and social unrest could preclude putting our ingenuity to good effect as it requires high levels of organization.  Other excellent comments touch on the change management issues -- need to acknowledge the problem implies we are in an early stage, although the shocks currently seen in oil markets is perhaps leading to some form of wake-up.  I would side that action is needed well prior to collapse if this is a likely scenario.

unless any of you found some hidden gems in what they spout

Here's a gem for you. Meadows et al., authors of the Limits of Growth, claim that the earth can sustain 7.7 billion people with enough food, consumer goods, and services to support them all in material comfort. (Source: Beyond the Limits: Global collapse or a sustainable future, 1992) Ergo, we're not in overshoot, and nobody needs to die.

Your flimsy bio undergrad proves nothing. My blog, on the other hand, conclusively demonstrates that:

 a) Fertilizer is not made from or dependent on  oil:

 b) Increases in oil prices do not increase the price of food.

 c) Pesticides are a miniscule fraction of total oil use, and can be made from coal.

 d) Increases in oil prices will not cause relocalization.

 e) Mechanized, chemical agriculture does not increase food production per acre,or cause population growth in Africa

 f) "Die-off" believers are sick and disgusting people

Regarding food/fertilizer production (those are the links I've had time to read so far) you have some good points.  However, those are all points that I myself know.  But the reason why I think that those points aren't good enough on their own is the scale and transitioning time.

It's heartening to see that sustainable methods with smaller farms produce more per acre.  However, agribusiness isn't going to give away the land they've been using just because their methods no longer are profitable/feasible.  And when they stat hiring hands to work individual plots, even if they're paying them migrant worker wages, that's going to greatly effect the bottom line.  Especially with all the transportation of food which will need to come about.

It's one thing to say that we can in fact feed the world.  It's another thing to say that we can feed the world, but one's portion of income going to food might become 80% of it.  When already many people have 20-50% of their income going towards house/rent, that means a lot of people living together/lost investment in property.  And a lot of people doing with having less than they're used to.  Cramped unhappy conditions don't exactly spell out "happy society."

If you take time to read through "JD"s blog, you will find he compares peak oil people to terrorists.

He's a complete jerk.

Enviro-luddites like Derrick Jensen want to blow-up dams and bring down civilization etc. Draw your own conclusions.

"Jensen currently lives among the redwoods of Crescent City, California, where he devotes much of his time to wildlife habitat restoration. In his own words: "Are human beings destined to destroy this earth? Why do we act as we do? What will it take for us to stop the horrors that characterize our way of being? Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself if I should write or blow up a dam.""

"My main objective is to bring down civilization. Actually that's not quite true. My main objective is to live in a world with more wild salmon every year than the year before, more migratory songbirds, more natural forest communities, more fish in the ocean, less dioxin in every mother's breast milk. And I'll do what it takes to get there. And what it will take is for us to dismantle everything we see around us."

Agreed.  Some of them are eco-terrorists.  Just as some industrial companies are eco-terrorists. But the collection of eco-terrorists who inhabit the peak oil discussions should not require the debunking of peak oil, similar to the way the crimes of some companies should not required the debunking of private enterprise.

My point many times on and elsewhere is that the discussion of peak oil is too tightly linked with the die-off crowd, the overshoot crowd, the neo-luddite crowd.  One can argue the pros and cons of their arguments, but I find it unfortunate that they have attached themselves--along with the survivalists--to peak oil, which just happens to be the particular crisis--in this case a depletion crisis--that touches upon many of the issues they are interested in.  They will be having their discussions whether it was peak oil, peak water, or approaching asteroid storm.  Seriously. Almost the same discussions. And that argues in my mind for cleaving those conversations away from those centers of peak oil discussions that desire credibility and a wider audience that might actually help open the eyes of people who are puzzled about this issue.

Having a background in engineering and experience with the politics of working in aggressively dynamic engineering work environment, I've learned to separate issues into their clear domains as much as possible.

I believe the focus on peak oil, by and large, should be on the geological, economic, and policy issues associated with it.  Scenarios of adaption can be described.  At most, scenarios describing how peak oil may play out in the face of different population increase or decrease scenarios.  Eco-utopias, survivalism, genocide, forced sterilization, child birth credits, etc are all discussions that can take place within their proper realms (hopefully the genocide discussion does not take place, but even on there are contributors--and even moderators--who espouse--in one fashion or another--genocide).

The same goes with the conspiracy theorists.  Did the US Govt make or let 9/11 happen.  Heinberg thinks so.  I suspect he'll continue to be popular with a certain audience segment, but will not be able to broaden his reach.  Whether true or not (the 9/11 thing), it's a red herring that will be raised time and again to debunk credibility (even if the debunking is not logically valid).

So the idea that some in the peak oil camp can be described as eco-terrorists, or more benignly as pro-natural world, does not require a peak oil debunking site.  It detracts from the peak oil discussion.

It detracts from the peak oil discussion.
Good, that's exactly what I hope it does. The number one priority right now is doing a hard body check on peak oil hype, hysteria, luddism, survivalism, conspiracy theory, profiteering, eugenics, fascism, racism etc. That's why debunking "peak oil" is good.

The only thing people need to be "aware of" regarding peak oil is that car culture is the problem, and people consuming too much gasoline (especially Americans) are the core of the problem. Get out of your goddam car. That's the only the "peak oil" message worth repeating.

I agree with you here almost entirely.  Cars--and the need for speed--are a primary source of excess consumption.  And that's why I'm not currently a firm believer in overshoot.  I think it's possible.  I don't know it one way or the other. My interest in peak oil is the specific set of actions that can allow civilization to wean itself from unnecessary consumption.  And the automobile is it.  The automobile is a major source of pollution, injury and death, and in some ways the breakdown of community.

The sooner the car dies the better.

So I do agree that transportation should be the focus.  Cars.  But also idiots sending their daughters to Aruba (as I like to say) for a week of unstructured fun, only to show up each night on fox news.

And unfortunately when the death of the car is brought up with many in the peak oil community, they immediately respond that the car culture will not die because the suburbs will die and jobs will be lost and we'll all end up in some mad max universe.  That's the problem with many of the peak oil discussions.  They always end up with those damn composing toilet conversations.

I've posed the problem before: suppose, for example, we replace the entire car fleet with (a) buses or rapid transit, as appropriate and (b) an efficient rental system to temporarily rent that diesel truck when you REALLY REALLY NEED TO HAUL SOME SHIT.  And then assume that air transport is focused on the absolutely necessary. How would that reduce consumption?  I don't know, but probably by quite a bit.

It's going to happen, but price will be the only mechanism to make it happen.  That's why I'm hoping that Douglas Reynolds is correct and we are in fact not near a true geological Hubbert peak but instead near a economic hubbert peak that will start the restructing process now, after which we will have sufficient fossil fuels for other needs.

JD participated in maybe a year or so ago.  He's part of what I call the hopelessly optimistics.  His blog has some realism to it.  But it's as much a personal vendetta against the doomers on as it is a source of unbiased information. The name itself is bunk.  Peak Oil debunked?  Peak Oil is real.  He may be trying to debunk the details (not tomorrow, or that it will be a plateau), but peak oil debunked is a silly name.
Greko--Thanks so much for adding the link, and starting this charming and illuminating thread. It's so nice to get a change from those dry economic and fact-filled discussions. Now if we could only find a way to use vitriol as fuel ...
By the way, I don't agree with JD's blog. I don't know when the geological peak oil will come, but I firmly believe that the "political" peak oil this way comes.

Dieoff scenarios are not plausible in my opinion. The transition will be very painful but managable.

TRE. Yours is an interesting view from someone who inhabits Peak Oil related forums.  What is your interest in the subject? Who's attitude do you admire?

I am genuinely interested.

I keep considering the petri dish with its trapped bacteria population, or the deer on St. Matthew Island. Why do some people think those examples are any different than humans on the planet?

Oh, sure we are much smarter than the bacteria or deer, yet still, as many contributors as there are now on TOD, how many of us are actually able to make a serious change to the direction of MANKIND? If those contributors in the 'hopelessly optimistic' category wish to remind us that the earth has no trouble to accommodate near 8 billion people, fine. What about the next person after 8 billion, is that then too many?

The driving point in David Delaney's article seems to be that we will continue on the unchecked growth plan until something stops this trend. As an example, this morning CNN had a special report detailing India's plan for growth, about how India will join the developed world. They sited the difficulties with establishing and maintaining enough energy to fuel the plan, but left us thinking that solutions will be found, as growth is the only plan. The cold hard fact is that at some point, the threshold will be reached, and the way down to a lower level can not be pretty.

With respect to casting aside the automobiles, I just do not see it happening voluntarily. I'm trying to determine what level the price of fuel must reach before the average well paid worker has to leave the car at home and find a new way to work. The alternative has to be available and be cheaper than the car and this is not always the case. The option to bike to work long distances in a snow covered winter are grim.

Is it realistic to think that huge numbers of people will quit their jobs (because the commute is not possible) or that people will just stop buying the latest gadgets because they know that such frivolous purchases are taxing on the planets resources?

Far too many people that I discuss the topics of resource depletion and overshoot with now view me as a freak. I am not extreme at all in my viewpoint, only certain that we as humans are making far too big an impact as our numbers grow. So few talk about reduction of their personal footprin. The lifelong effort has been to get this far, have this much, how many people wish give it up? I often wonder about the Easter Islanders, there must have been members of the society that discussed, just as we do, that the resources where disappearing. Is mass human momentum so great that it sweeps away the voices that stand to warn?

When viewpoints like JD's debunking are presented, anyone who is not completely convinced that serious trouble lies ahead will reach out and grab onto the alterative view. After all the debunked or highly optimistic views allows life to continue just as it has in the past. No need to change, no need to do with less. No need to prepare for something that is somewhere in the future, that will change our life in some way, but how and how much is not predictable.

So not to break the flow I will reply to JD here.  My 'flimsy' undergrad degree has nothing to do with my observations of the debunk blog.  It has to do with approach and the language.  If this sight was largely hurling personal insults at each other, I would have no interest in being a part of it, no matter how compelling the arguments are.

My discussion of my biology background relate to other peoples observations that I thought were very good and I was adding my own thoughts hoping for thoughtful feedback.  By the way, your comments on fertilizer are very good. However, what I would like to know are your thoughts on how infrastructure is geared to allowing a transition to primarily manure (can it be easily doen, timelines, etc...) -- I am not up to speed on the particulars

There are lots of possible transitions over the course of the future. The main point is that peak oil is irrelevant to fertilizer supplies, so there is nothing to worry about. After oil peaks, fertilizer will be made from natural gas as it always has been. When gas peaks, fertilizer can be made from coal. At some point, fertilizer will be made from nuclear/hydroelectric hydrolysis of water. At any time, we can reduce demand for synthetic fertilizers by integrating more human and animal excreta into the agricultural process. That's a positive step which should be encouraged, but there's no rush. It's not like we're going to die if we don't do it immediately.

There are lots of threats to the wellbeing of mankind. Starving because peak oil interrupted the supply of fertilizer is not one of them.

Peak oil might be irrelevant to fertilizer, but natural gas isn't, which has peaked in North America.  And while shipping in bulk over the ocean might be the cheapest way to ship it, the bulk of land immediately surronding ports isn't the bulk of the agricultural land.

As well, there being possible alternatives, however there's the question of scale; is there enough manure/composted paper/recycled sewage to convert "enough" farm land to continue to feed everyone?  As well there is the question of how this manure is being moved around.  Initially glancing at the problem if you're constantly shipping out produce from your farm, and only recycling into the soil what you and your animals use/don't use, there's going to be net depletion of the soil.  True, some plants (lentils are a good example I think) will get enough nitrogen from the atmosphere that growing them and then plowing them back into the field will greatly improve the soil, but now you're using less land in total, because some land will need a year to grow something to help revitalize the soil.

Then there's entrenched interests.  I remember a great post from (yeah, surprising) from a farmer talking about how increasing fertilizer costs are impacting her.  Well, firstly she's on a meat farm, which being less efficient then veggies is probably a bit part of the problem.  But she was talking about how hard it was to convince her husband to try alternative farming ideas because he was used to the "traditional" method of chemical ferts and chemical pesticides.

It's mindsets that equate the less than hundred year old modern farming methods as "traditional" which will be hard to change.  Well, I guess anything which lasts much beyond 3 generations becomes traditional.  But truely traditional (heritage) methods were of recycling manures/composts and probably consisted of much of the recent "developments" in sustainable farming.  But people who've been doing things the "traditional" way will be slow to change, and might rather just step out of the business.  If they're immediately replaced by someone with more sustainable methods that might be for the best.   But there's a question of just how badly the land has been damaged by the agribusiness model.  

We have the "potential" to be smarter than the bacteria in the Petri dish.
(I'm not saying we humans are smarter, just that we have potential to be so where the bacteria do not.)

We can reprogram our cultures away from the "be fruitfly-like and multiply" theme. We can start worshipping new gods other than the almighty Dollar and Adam Smith's wise but-invisible Hand. We can even start re-discovering "science". An age of enlightenment happened before. Why can't it happen again? Why can't the threat of Peak Oil become the wake-up call that brings the sleeping masses out of their "Matrix" mind shells? (Referring to the Matrix movie trilogy where commoners are lulled into delusional sleep trances and continue in their "ordinary" life habits.)

It is way too early to give up and die-off.

I think the main issue is social, almost religious in nature. I may take flak for this, but...

I believe a big part of the problem is lack of respect and concern for our lands and peoples, both of which devolved from the monetary system and elimination of the natural "commons". American Native culture had the "commons" instilled in them, and a trading system rather than money. Other cultures have similar traits and histories.

Without an established belief that the land is our mutual home and "commons", and in the face of gathering wealth to 'succeed' financially, we have stripped the planet. It continues today, with the singular driver of "profit" - every redneck in the world will mine his property if he thinks he can make a buck and have more "stuff" to make his life easier. In "modern society", hard physical work is actually frowned upon. Financial slavery of the poor is accepted, their poverty used against them, dangling the bait of becoming "rich" just out of most people's reach. I got caught in the trap, and played this game for a decade. It's the only game in town. The only way to win is not to play.

It may be that the catastrophe we are driving towards is not only inevitable, but necessary to force humans, as a species, to rethink their socio-economic structure. This can only happen in a vacuum, and only in a world where there is time to share, converse and think. Maybe the collapse is the required vacuum and a slide backwards is the driver to build something better, more sustainable, and more equitable for all. Maybe, just maybe, if things fall apart hard enough, humans will remember and learn from this big mistake.

I cannot imagine, try as I might, that our current civilization will institute the necessary societal changes to get to a sustainable socio-economic model. The current system must come down before we can build a better one. Money has to be rethought, because accumulating wealth is the source of resource depletion, inequality, and exponential growth. Ownership of land and resources also has to be retooled, as this also allows wealth to accumulate, which causes resource depletion in the current system.

Neither of these "evils" can change without collapse - the paradigm shift required is simply too massive for most people to fathom, and the inertia of our current society is too great to change direction.

Niven and Pournelle must have shared our reading list...

On Pournelle, that is freaky. Yes I used to read Pournelle all the time --but in Byte magazine. Never bought his/their science fiction books.

No, you do not deserve flak on this Spooky. You deserve an accolade (applause).

I'll have to check my religion's Bible to see if "He" gave mankind "dominion" over the oil beneath as well as dominion over the animals and fish. How can we be a faith-based "ownership society" if He never gave us faith-based rights to claim ownership over the oil below or of the space above?

Very good insights in your comment.

spooky you are like, inside my head. or I'm inside yours. I think about this stuff all the time (re-inventing the money system from the ground up to serve people not control them, not playing the current dollar-chasing game, reasonable systems of land-stewardship or something like that). And how possibly the only way to get some progress on that stuff is in a vacuum where the current money systems have failed. So we wait.

I'd love to talk with you about a money system that could work for people. My ideas currently include trust through cryptographically signatures. Lots of ways to use those to create a money system that works in whatever way seems fit. I've got my own implementation in mind, but of course I feel that setting about implementing it would be pointless without people willing to actively try and use it and see if it can be made to work for people and get real things done.

Anyways if you read this and want to talk more, please email me.

But with any money system which is easily collectable (crytographically signed, or not) then wouldn't this lead into the same direction of trying to accumulate as much money as possible?

With an all barter system, then some concentrated forms of wealth will be desired (gold, gems), but much of their value is still in just the human perceived value.  If people only, or at least mainly, only bartered, it would seem to be harder to actually horde anything.

As far as a money system goes, if one wants to prevent the hoarding/despoiling of the environment, one might want to consider decaying money, or else possibly a net "maximum" for one's bank account.  Consider an all electronic money system, but the most that any individual could own/have access to would be $100,000.  Let's even say that bank transfers can't go over that, so the most expensive, lavish house one could buy at once would be $100,000.  

But even then there's immediate problems, one could own a profitable factory and just get paid $100,000 a week until one is done buying the house peace meal.  And if one limited corporations to that same (or any) limit, then people would own multiple corps to pool the assets, or if there was strict legal work to cover that route completely, then expensive, capital intensive work simple would never get done.  In the case of oil drilling or oil sands processing some of us might be ok with that, but what about when it comes to hospitals?

The problem with any money/legal system is that someone will always try to cheat it.  Admitedly people will cheat with the barter system as well, but it might be a bit harder.  As well, if there's more of a community effect anyone who cheated another with barter (claimed something was better than it was in a way that can't be immediately verified/falsified when trading), would get a reputation and have to go out of the way to verify that what one's trading really is that, or else have people insist on lots more barter on their end, either to make up for previous dealings where one felt cheated, or because one was anticipating being cheated with in that deal.

The book "Future of Money" (Lietaer" and "Not by Money Alone" are good sources for thinking about monetary theory and how it might be used to help.
I've been trying to find this book at the library with no luck. Bernard Lietaer deserves some serious credit.

It's bernard's site that got me into the insidious nature of the current fiat money systems and helped me start thinking about alternatives/solutions. I think I've got something in mind thats more robust, decentralized and scaleable than anything ever implemented.

coffee17, thanks for the response :)

In my vision of a decentralized money system reputation is part of the foundation. My reputation as an economic participant would be based solely on my dealings with other participants in the network. I would also want to participate where the unit of measure is the "human hour of work". Dont get confused about this though as not all work is of the same value of difficulty. People would price their labour at what others were willing to pay. If its babysitting only one child, maybe the best you can get is 0.5 hours per actual hour of your time. If its being a heart surgeon, your patients will probably be willing to pledge 5 hours per actual hour of your work (or more, I guess theres a whole support team in surgery and thats one reason it costs a bloody fortune). I dont see a need to cap balances or intsitute demurrage but nothing says some form of those could not be included. Another component is the public shared transaction repositories that you would post your pledges to so that your balance can be verified by other parties who wish to trade with you on the same network. The elements of reputation, cryptographically signed time-pledge-to-the-network notes, and distributed transaction repositories to bring it together, plus possible trust-metric systems to allow participants to easily decide whether they'd like to engaage transactions with others they have not already dealt with, all these things could come together to make a robust ROCS like system. One key piece that I havent had time to put much thought into but which is absolutely vital, is how individual participants could work together on a large project supported by pledges from those who the end product would service. it would be like a corporation but woulnt be profit motivated.

in fact, i see no point in profit. Theres a difference between paying yourself well and making a profit. I dont see the need to make a profit as long as I'm paying myself well. And with a money system like I imagine without any interest this need for forever-growth is eliminated. And in my system theres no central issuing authorities of the money, its issued by individuals, and that again is why reputation and cryptographical verification of identity are key. Anyways its very complicated and I dont pretend to have all the answers, but I have given it a lot of thought over the last few years. Theres a lot of thought still to do. I'd love to see 20 different competing money systems that anyone can just choose to participate in or not.

But I think people need to first lose their faith in the government fiat dollars that everyone still wants. A vacuum of faith.

> in fact, i see no point in profit. Theres a difference between paying yourself well and making a profit. I dont see the need to make a profit as long as I'm paying myself well.

I intend to work in the energy business and will probably start a company sooner or later and I see a point in profit, profit is power.  

I will try to maximize my profit to get more resources to pursue my ideas and get more work done of the kind I figure out is good and of course profitable so I can get even more done. If I get it right I will get a good feedback loop and my ideas will change a small part of the world. Power to get things done, works from the micro scale and up.

I disagree that profit is the only means to improve ones ability to organize people for the purpose of getting useful work done, if other implementations of money are taken into consideration. Within the current system profit is a prerequisite. It is also helping us destroy the planet.

When it is time for me to participate in large enterprises, I will use my reputation to get more resources made available to my team. If we are successful in meeting our goals that will also establish a feedback loop and our ideas will bring about positive change in our local area. This change seen by outsiders could result in others becoming willing participants in a new money system and it could grow to change the whole world. And that is, of course, the goal, to change the world for the better, to spread equality and transparency, so that each of us can have the opportunities to explore our full potentials and accomplish good useful work in our time here on this planet.

Yes, i absolutely agree power to get things done works from the micro scale and up.

I think perhaps we are both looking at different ways of accomplishing the same thing.

The barter economy experiments I have heard about have fairly quickly reinvented some kind of currency since it is easier to hande then pure barter.  Trade becomes more efficient and that ecourages trade and work wich gives prosperity. Money do not make people evil, money makes people more efficient in doing whatever they choose to do in a society be it good or evil things, short of far sighted.
The peaking of world oil production is a geological phenomenon. Oil is limited resource that depletes. This is one thing. Another is that after the peak oil will available but the production will decrease but still remain at very significant level 50 years from now. It is difficult to see this as a catastrophic event.

For the economy and living standards the most important thing will be the total world energy production. This will not peak at the same time as oil but will peak because natural gas and coal (nuclear, too) are dpleting resources. This might make the Peak Oil a non-event and so we can continue this discussion after that for some time. The Peak Oil and Peak Energy will have a great impact but it might take some time before all the consequences are seen. People will adapt to them because they have no choice.

If you have ever seen those late-stage stripper wells pumping you will believe the Peak Oil. No doubt about that. But it is also a fact they go on pumping, every year a little less, but they pump. The "Limits of Growth" of the Club of Rome was a very important book. They have absolutely right: there are really limits for the economic and population growth. But I doubt their overshoot model.

Complete collapses of larger civilizations are in fact very rare in history. Diamond found some very small societies in exceptional environments to prove his point. Besides, the Easter Island civilzation did not collapse. First Europeans observed  a sustainable, helthy society. The Europeans destroyed it afterwards nearly completely. The Norse in Greenland did not intend to build a self-sustainable society. Norwegians never had a taboo against eating fish. But the sea in Greenland freezes in winter but not in Norway. Nobody was a fool. They didn't destroy their own societies. The Roman Empire did collapse but not the European civilization. It only relocalized and localized. The Dark Ages were not so dark after all. The Mayan urban kingdoms did collapse under a very strong environmental stress (exceptional drought they didn't cause). But the Mayans still live there.  

Human populations don't increase uncontrallably. Most societies have had elaborate social and cultural systems and practical ways to keep population stable. Rapid population growth is connected to fossile fuels use. There has been and still are rational economic reasons behind the population growth.

"Limits of Growth" gets overshoot because it doesn't have a main limiting resource that could steer the growth curve. If we look carefully we can see that energy is the underlying resource that enables the use of other resources. It is not food or water that sets the limit, it is energy. But the energy follows a Hubbert curve and prevents real overshooting.

We can know something about what happens in an energy crisis observing societies that have experienced it. I have seen societies in deep economic collapse (Belarus and Ukraine 1992, Romania a little later). The reality is just gray. We could really see the fuel shortage: the countries stood still, literally. Very little traffic. But it was not an end of their world.

I agree with those who remind that it is no point in associating one's favorite catastrophe scenario and survival scheme with the Peak Oil. It is far more interesting to use those facts we know and that experince there is for constructing a realistic picture of what will be ahead.    

OK - my 2 cents, FWIW.

Just make money perishable. Expiration dates. Use it or lose it. Use a graduating scale if you want to. Put digital timer in it - anything! But make hanging on to it difficult and awkward so that it circulates. Forget interest altogether, unless you charge interest for HOLDING money, by depreciating the value. Make turning it in to the bank a way of temporarily halting the depreciation, which allows one to accumulate something, but not for long.

The purpose of money is to facilitate exchange in commercial transactions. No more, no less. What we have now is all out pursuit of money, as in the case of Magnus Redlin. He simply wants to make money. Why? To buy stuff or to accumulate power over others are the only real reasons, which are resource depletion and wage slavery when you extrapolate them. No offense intended Magnus, but you stated your position.

So, will that work? Has anybody run that dog out to the end of its leash?

I allways stand for my position and I can of course be interpreted in several ways.
But I can assure you that I have no intention of raping the earth or enslaving people. laughs

Accumulatin wealth in the liquid form money is of course not the only way of getting power and it is not the only way in use right now. Linus Torvalds has a lot of power over thousands of peoples work with the Linux operating system kernel and his choices influence millions of users. And there are political power on manny levels, you need hundreds of millions to realisticaly become president of USA but that is an extreme case, manny political positions only need skill and dedication.

Pursuit of money with no constructive goal can indeed be harmful. I guess there are three main causes for it. 1. Wealth is sexy, you get more and better sex if you are wealthier then your neighbour. This kind of competition has no built in limit and I am sure it is genetic since it is good foor gene propagation to find wealthy mates that can afford ot raise children. 2. Power is sexy, same thing and a lot of people seem to enjoy the act of using power regardless of what it is used for. 3. People obsess over "countable" things, high score in a computer game, cows, pinball, check account. None of these points will go away if we abandon money or reinvent money in a new form. What ever utopia you figuer out it must handle people as they often are.

One feature I realy like with market economies with functioning legal system is that they are fairly good at getting abrasive, greedy, psycopathic people to actually do things that benefit other people instead of competing within some kind of nomeclature and then ending up doing nothing that benefits other people or far worse huting lots and lots of people.

Your point that money is better the faster it flows is very good and insightfull.
Myself I would definately hoard some of my profits and invest most of that in assets I think will be valuble when I am old and retired but I would on the other hand be a very good neighbour after a disaster. Hmm, this do not realy matter, money is worthless in itself, I would anyway not hoard cash and expect it to be usefull when I am old or if times get bad.

TI -

Go have a read about Liebigs Law. Populations do increase until they meet resource depletion - as we are heading today. Our haphazard and laissez faire application of technology has simply steepend our curve.

In fact human populations have tended to be very stable. The rapid population increase we are seeing now is a new phenomenon and connected to increasing fossile energy use. Its causes are not biological but mostly economic.

Malthus had both right and wrong. It is no coincidence that he developed his theory in the end of the 18th century. He observed and described correctly a new phenomenon - the rapid population growth of his century - but did not understand that it was really something unprecedented. He thought to have found the universal population law but in reality he observed only the effects of the beginning industralization and fossile fuels use. Darwin was a 19th century scientist and lived in a time of change and optimism. So he found the origin of species in evolution and change. Right, but he omitted the 99% of the story - stability. Species do change but most of the time they dont't and have a lot of mechanisms to prevent change and achieve stability. Few species have this overshooting and collapse pattern.  

We live still in the world of growth. Growth, economic or population, technological or cultural seems to be natural and self-evident. But in larger time-frame growth and maximization is a new phenomenon and stability and optimization is the rule. Even those who see that economic growth cannot go on much longer think that population and other growth will go on and we shall get the overshoot. Probably not.  

It is typical that demographers have not shown much positive interest in those European countries that have diminishing populations. Natural population decrease is still mostly seen as negative and a sign of social decay. May be, but it should still be asked: how do they do that?

The present world population size is a result of fossile energy use and is not sustainable if the energy supply declines. But the fossile energy will not end suddenly and therefore there need not to be a real collapse. Economy and population can have a "soft landing" and we should try to find out how this can happen.

Your strength is your weakness. The stronger you become the more you think you can achieve anything and the more you forget who you are and where do you come from.
I've always thought that the greatest problem of humanity is that it is the strongest species on Earth... should there be a threat, a predator that keeps homo sapiens restricted in his ambitions to prove that he is something independent and more important than the life and the nature it came from, we would have never fell into the overshoot trap. Problem is that we are too fast and too smart - we managed to develop much faster than the biosphere could evolve to produce "antigens" for the human virus. This I think could explain why we could not detect any signals from any extraterestrial intelligence from space - if the timeframe in which an intelligent life can exhaust the natural capital of its ecosystem (after development of the radio) is in the same range as ours  - around 100 years, then say 100 years devided by 14 000 000 000 years of Universe, this makes 0.7 E-08... and if say each 100th star system is developing intelligent life (very optimistical estimate to my mind) - so out of 14 billion stars only one can have intelligence at certain moment of time. Or only 7 in our Galaxy. Much too sad.
TI -

"It's causes are not biological but mostly economic"

Well, that is crap - dude, we are all biological, and we caused the population increase because our species harnessed a new energy source. ANY biological organism would exhibit the same increase in growth provided other resources did not limit expansion. It is one of the key forces in evolution - the species that mutates to consume an abundant or unused ecological resource thrives - until. One cannot blame our current situation on a science based on something man-made (economics) in the first place - if you don't get this, then understand it is ALL about biology, and go read Liebig!!

"Few species have this overshooting and collapse pattern."

Every single organism has this exact pattern - each organism expands in population within it's ecosystem until a limit to it's growth is reached. This is a key factor in species survival!!

I'll stop there, because it's fairly obvious you have limited background on this. But just tossing out crap like this pisses me off immensely.

In ecology, Liebig's Law is the mechanism of succession, not die-off. Species which use a limiting resource more efficiently replace species which use the resource less efficiently, in a process called "succession". Look it up.
"Every single organism has this exact pattern - each organism expands in population within it's ecosystem until a limit to it's growth is reached. This is a key factor in species survival!!"

Overshoot and collapse? This is is not the same as filling up one's ecosystem. If we observe any species we will most likely meet population stability. Collapsing is a very poor survival strategy because it endangers the population at the bottom phase. Fluctuations, yes, but on the average stability. There are of course those that have this pattern - great swarming and migration years and then apparently vanishing. But most species keep their populations stable.

Biology can no way substitute economics and sociology. We are not speaking about bacteria in a Petri.

Look at the human world. There are societies that have a very high population growth rate and those with a negative or zero growth. The latter are interesting.