The Stalking Horse
In Part One of the Stalking Horse, excerpts that were pulled from the Energy Timeline on the Earth Portal website stopped at 1943. The following is a continuation of those excerpts beginning in 1955 when W. Fred Cottrell applied a holistic approach to the analysis of energy and economic and social development - crossing the boundaries between science and social (pseudo) science.
W. Fred Cottrell, a sociologist at Miami (Ohio) University, is the first to comprehensively apply the concept of net energy and energy surplus to the analysis of economic and social development.
U.S. geologist Marion King Hubbert predicts that oil production in the lower 48 states will peak around 1970, which in fact it does. Hubbert’s work becomes a lightning rod for debate about oil supplies for decades to come.
Roger Revelle of the U.S. and Hans Suess of Austria demonstrate that carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere as a result of the use of fossil fuels. Revelle concludes that “Human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future.”
U.S. economist Kenneth Boulding publishes The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth, the first explicit application of the law of conservation of matter to describe the physical limits to economic growth.
Earth Day is celebrated for the first time in the U.S. as a nationwide demonstration advocating environmental protection and preservation. This demonstration is conceived by Gaylord Nelson, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, and organized by Denis Hayes.
Chamber of Commerce director warns of the potential "collapse of entire industries" from pollution regulation, especially oil and automotive. Later the speech is seen as a classic example of industry exaggeration about pollution controls.
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE), is begins in Stockholm, Sweden, with 113 countries represented; this is the first global environmental summit. Treatment of energy is largely limited to the environmental effects of energy extraction, processing, and consumption.
The Club of Rome publishes The Neo-Malthusian Limits to Growth, warning that if the world’s consumption patterns and population growth continue at the same high rates of the time, various calamities will befall the Earth and mankind.
Probably most people are familiar with the book 'Limits to Growth' and if not, they would be familiar with the concepts which can be fairly summed up by saying that resources are limited but our capacity to deplete them is unlimited therefore we must manage the use of resources (including population) or we're all going to die.
The statistics used in 'Limits to Growth' to make the case for what has become hysterical fear in some, high profit / theft opportunity for some, and justification for totalitarian dictatorship in others were produced by Jay W. Forrester at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Forrester was a pioneer in the use of computers for system modeling. A pretty good history of Forrester and the progression that led him to become involved with the Club of Rome can be found on the System Dynamics Society website so I don't want to repeat it. It would be better to go to their website to read it: System Dynamic Society: Origin of System Dynamics
A system is any process that has dependent processes. The interdependence of the processes is what creates "the system". For example, the following diagram was found in a paper titled, "The Origin of Petroleum".
It doesn't take a lot of examination or much thinking to see that there is a lot of detail missing from the diagram. For example, birds, worms, rain, time, etc. It's a simplistic view of a complex system of interdependent processes.
What systems modelers do is to assume that they know all of the variables in a system - which is actually a subset of a system, and they multiply out their variables to make projections and that's what systems dynamics is about. If you have fixed variables and known values, modeling works extremely well. For example, in a manufacturing process, figuring out what would be the lead time required to deliver an order of widgets on a given date in the future including the requirements for component parts of the widget and their lead times for ordering, assembly time, etc.
Another thing that can be done with models is to adjust the variables. Using the above diagram, you could look at it and say.. nothing we can do about the sun, but we can plant more trees and we can "deposit" more consumers to get more oil. Voila! Peak oil problem solved - at least according to the model. (And don't let the duality of that method of obtaining more oil escape you.) But obviously, the more unknowns there are in a model, the less reliable the models are.
In the Aurelio Peccei biography, it says that Forrester's World Dynamics project was proposed by Forrester:
Two years to do a world model is laughable. It was just a demonstration of the technique of using computers to model. It wasn't a serious model of global systems. He simply didn't have the data nor the computing power, nor the time to do what the title implies. And why Forrester allowed this work to be misconstrued as it was is not known but a good guess would be that either he was completely mad - drunk with cyberpower or he derived some benefit that meant more to him than integrity (money).
In 2004, Ronald Bailey wrote an article for Reason Magazine regarding his testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Mr. Bailey is the author of many books on the environmental crisis statistics hoax - one of which is titled, "Eco-Scam: The False Prophets of the Ecological Apocalypse". In the article, Bailey writes:
In 1976, TIME Magazine published an article about the Club of Rome partial retraction of the conclusion of 'Limits to Growth'. They said they didn't mean "no growth", they meant "managed growth". Emphasis added to the excerpts from the article:
Theory: Club of Rome Revisited
Coming from almost any other organization, a call for economic growth to alleviate world poverty would produce only yawns. From the Club of Rome, it is an intellectual bombshell. The Club —really an informal organization of some 100 top International businessmen, scientists and thinkers—has been synonymous with advocacy of a no-growth world ever since it produced its explosive little book, The Limits to Growth, in 1972. Using a complicated computer model of the world, the book argued that because the earth's resources were finite, mankind might starve or suffocate in pollution if runaway population and economic growth were not stopped cold. True, the computer model was flawed and the no-growth notion faulty (TIME, Aug. 14,1972). But the basic message became famous; 3 million copies of Limits have been sold worldwide.
Last week the Club reversed its position. At a three-day meeting in Philadelphia sponsored mainly by the First Pennsylvania Corp., a leading bank, speaker after speaker came out for more growth. Why? The Club's founder, Italian Industrialist Aurelio Peccei, says that Limits was intended to jolt people from the comfortable idea that present growth trends could continue indefinitely. That done, he says, the Club could then seek ways to close the widening gap between rich and poor nations—inequities that, if they continue, could all too easily lead to famine, pollution and war. The Club's startling shift, Peccei says, is thus not so much a turnabout as part of an evolving strategy.
Club of Rome prescribes now is selective growth. This concept, which
promises to be every bit as difficult to put into operation as
no-growth, requires nations to take voluntary actions aimed at speeding
the development of the poorer countries while slowing that of their
industrialized brethren. The desired result would be a much more
equal division of the world's riches and productive capacities, which
could lead to global peace and prosperity through economic
As it turns out, a couple of years ago, I found the United Nations resolutions to 'Reshape the International Order' and wrote about it in piece titled, "New World Order Made Easy". That page contains a link to the following:
So who were these people - Aurelio Peccei of Italy and Alexander King of Scotland that founded the Club of Rome? And where did they derive the power they obviously had? At least some of the answers to those questions can be found in a Club of Rome publication titled, "Dossiers" that was prepared as a history for the 1984 conference in Helsinki. Excerpts:
(Pg. 60 Aurelio Peccei) An industrialist
in the vanguard of humanism, source and soul of the Club of Rome. It is
a paradoxical idea that is understandable only in the context of his
unique and individual life. Aurelio Peccei was born in Turin, Italy in
1908. His parents belonged to the lower-middle class, but with a social
and cultural awareness, and he himself rose to the summit of large
multinational companies. Before having taken his doctorate in economics
at Turin University in 1930 (his thesis was on Lenin's New Economic
Policy), he had been already employed by Fiat for Soviet trade.
From this he moved with his wife to China, handling Fiat production and
business there until 1938.
[Side Note: Peccei met King via Gvishiani. In a book called, "Memoirs of a Boffin, Chapter 13 on the Club of Rome, it said that Gvishiani was Kosygin's son-in-law and Vice Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology of the USSR ]
(Pg. 56) By this time we were ready to
share and enrich our thinking by including others in the discussions. A
convenient approach might be to invite a few eminent Europeans of broad
outlook to meet with us and then extend the group gradually by bringing
in others from different parts of the world. So we sat down in my office
in OECD and drew up a list of personalities who might be invited.