Posted 8 March 2006
Hubbert famously said "Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know."
"We are not starting from zero," he says. "We have an enormous amount of existing technical knowledge. It's just a matter of putting it all together. We still have great flexibility but our maneuverability will diminish with time."
Hubbert continues "The knowledge essential to competent intellectual leadership in this situation is preeminently geological - a knowledge of the earth's mineral and energy resources. The importance of any science, socially, is its effect on what people think and what they do. It is time earth scientists again become a major force in how people think rather than how they live."
Hubbert on the burgeoning world population: "[Its] an aberration. For most of human history, the population doubled once every 32,000 years. Now it's down to 35 years. That is dangerous. No biologic population can double more than a few times without getting seriously out of bounds. I think the world is seriously overpopulated right now. There can be no solutions to the world's problems that do not include the stabilization of the world's population."
Hubbert on monetary policy: "The world's present industrial civilization is handicapped by the coexistence of two universal, overlapping, and incompatible intellectual systems: the accumulated knowledge of the last four centuries of the properties and interrelationships of matter and energy; and the associated monetary culture which has evolved from folkways of prehistoric originÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Despite their inherent incompatibilities, these two systems during the last two centuries have had one fundamental characteristic in common, namely, exponential growth, which has made a reasonably stable coexistence possible. But, for various reasons, it is impossible for the matter-energy system to sustain exponential growth for more than a few tens of doublings, and this phase is by now almost over. The monetary system has no such constraints, and, according to one of its most fundamental rules, it must continue to grow by compound interest. This disparity between a monetary system which continues to grow exponentially and a physical system which is unable to do so leads to an increase with time in the ratio of money to the output of the physical system. This manifests itself as price inflation. A monetary alternative corresponding to a zero physical growth rate would be a zero interest rate. The result in either case would be large-scale financial instability."
Hubbert believed we have a cultural problem. "The steep ride up the and down the energy curve is the most abnormal thing that has ever happened in human history. Most of human history is a no-growth situation. Our culture is built on growth and that phase of human history is almost over and we are not prepared for it. Our biggest problem is not the end of our resources. That will be gradual. Our biggest problem is a cultural problem. We don't know how to cope with it."
Even in the face of denial of epic proportions, Hubbert remained optimistic: "Since the problems confronting us are not intrinsically insoluble, it behooves us, while there still is yet time, to begin a serious examination of the nature of our cultural constraints and of the cultural adjustments necessary to permit us to deal with effectively with the problems rapidly arising. Provided thus can be done before unmanageable crises arise, there is promise that we could be on the threshold of achieving one of the greatest intellectual cultural advances in human history."