Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Peak oil? Oil peaked

From that cesspool of radical leftist anticorporate enviro-nazi propaganda, hysteria, and hyperbole, the Wall Street Journal:

Peak Oil: Global Oil Production’s Peaked, Analyst Says

Not that these ideas are new, but it is always interesting seeing and hearing their slowly growing acceptance even among the corporate and financial world. All who are talking about an economic "recovery" need to be realizing that as soon as indutrial activity tries to ramp up again it will be immediately whacked by a spike in energy prices even higher than the last one; remember that the energy price spike was actually one of the major precipitating factors in the current downturn, long before the financial sector realized that it was based on delusion, denial, and deceit.

The birding world is going to get hit by all this in a major way. The hoards of jet-setting middle class birders who just pop off to Patagonia (Arizona) for a Sinaloa Wren or Patagonia (South America) for a bit of pelagic birding as though it were just another afternoon drive to the beach will be history. Those excursions will once again become precious, rare, and for most birders the experiences of a lifetime, not a weekend. Remember the early 1970s, when no North American birder had every passed the 700 mark on his or her lifelist? When an expedition to the Rio Grande Valley was planned and saved for years in advance? When birding mostly happened very close to home? When continental-scale rarity chasing was unheard of before the Incident at Newburyport? If you don't remember those days, I suspect you will become familiar with them in the coming decades.

Is this a bad thing? For birding as a major revenue-generating recreational activity, yes. For ecotourism establishments around the world, it might be armageddon. For manufacturers of high-end optics and cameras, it'll be another part of a major blow. For our image as yuppie hypocrites who wastefully burn through resources trying to "experience the natural environment," no, not a bad thing at all. But for the birds? There will be lots of issues in maintaining existing conservation systems. But overall in the big picture and the long run it is hard for me to see how a ramping down of the global industrial economy will do anything but help global birds and all other aspects of biodiversity. Without exception, the threats to birds around the world are all products of the fossil-fueled industrial economy, from deforestation to climate change to overfishing to chemical pollution.

The Patch Birder shall inherit the Earth.


At 4:55 PM, Blogger John B. said...

I, for one, do not remember the early 1970s.

Peak and post-peak oil will definitely slow down birding tourism in a major way unless we find some petroleum-free way of traveling the world. I suppose we could all learn to sail, but that takes time. So patch birding will take precedence. Depending on how transportation networks evolve, I could see listing shift into Kaufman-style big years with a lot more backpacking and bus/train-riding and a lot less jet-setting.

I am not sure that post-peak oil will shut down optics and camera industries all that much. Photography of local birds (combined with online photo-sharing) could replace travel-listing as the thing to do.

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