Archive for the tag “T. Vijayendra”

Peak Oil (Or why city slickers should learn to get their hands dirty)


Peak Oil, Food Security and Urban Agriculture

T. Vijayendra

Abstract
Peak Oil refers to the point when oil production reaches a peak, and henceforth can only fall. This has already happened. This has enormous implications for food security. It raises cost and prices of food because farm inputs – primarily fertilisers and pesticides are petroleum based products. Also the cost of transport goes up. This has resulted in food prices going up and within the present system it will only go up further. The alternative is socialism with local food security based on organic food production. Urban agriculture, particularly for perishable foods like vegetables and fruits is becoming a must. Read more…

T. Vijayendra: Post Carbon Society And Transition

The Industrial Society or the Carbon Society
The present social system that we are living is called Industrial Society. It began with the Industrial Revolution (1760 -1830) in the West and was followed by social revolution in various countries Holland, France, England and the USA, ending the age old feudal society and ushering in a capitalist society. Later, similar revolutions followed in many countries in the West and in Japan in the East. In the twentieth century, many socialist revolutions occurred, notably in Russia, China, Cuba and Vietnam. All of them had two things common ushering in an industrial society (whether capitalist or socialist) and ending the feudal society.

However, capitalism spread in other countries too mainly through colonialism, but without effecting a similar social revolution. These countries are generally known as Third World countries, which includes India too. In the absence of a social revolution, it did not unleash the people’s energy as they continued to suffer from poverty and lack of education and good health care. On the other hand, many traditional low energy technologies and ways of living are still active in these societies.

The material basis of industrial society has been coal, oil and many other minerals. These are generally known as non-renewable resources because, unlike plant and animal resources, these are fixed in quantity under the earth and as we take them out, their stock keeps on dwindling. Among these, coal and oil are the most important because they represent concentrated sources of energy. Hence industrial societies can also be called carbon-based societies. Read more…

T. Vijayendra: You Too Brutus!

Why climate scientist James Hansens exhortation to embrace nuclear power is just wishful thinking

T. Vijayendra, POI Founder- Member

Climatologist James Hansen is the former head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s leading advocates of the dangers of climate change. Last year, he joined senior scientist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institutions Department of Global Ecology; prominent hurricane researcher Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Tom Wigley, a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in calling on those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power to embrace nuclear power. The scientists said renewables cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires and that there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power. They asserted that continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanitys ability to avoid dangerous climate change.

Responding to the open letter by Hansen and others, some U.S. anti-nuclear activist groups, spearheaded by the Civil Society Institute and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), called for a global phasing out of nuclear power since wind and solar deployment, in the United States in particular, is far outpacing the development and construction of new reactors. The Civil Society Institute is an advocacy group focused on clean energy issues and climate change, and the NIRS is a Maryland-based anti-nuclear activist group. Read more…

Old Age and Peak Oil

By T. Vijayendra, POI Founder-Member

“Old age is a tiredness that does not disappear the next morning, as we ingenuously expected upon going to bed”.
 Baldomero Fernández Moreno, Argentinean poet

OLD AGE

People above sixty years are considered old or senior citizens. It is the percentage of old people in the total population that is important and not the total number, and especially in relation to those in the 0-15 age group in the population. As the population of the old approaches that of the 0-15 group, the working population shrinks in proportion and the burden of taking care of the old and the young becomes very heavy. In such cases, societies experience a shortfall in its working population.

Read more…

Population: A Heretical View

T. Vijayendra argues that todays population explosion is essentially a product of cheap oil, and that the end of oil means we will be forced to consider a new approach to population which many would find unpalatable now but would ultimately help humans strike a balance between population and resource consumption

The twentieth century was unique in history in many ways. Its hall mark was  the availability of cheap oil. It has given us air travel, auto mobiles, electronics and other marvels of science and technology. It also gave us the two world wars, the nuclear bombs, global warming and an increase in world population to three times.

The population problem is a complex one, and has been debated since the times of Malthus and Marx. In the past leftists maintained that it is not a real problem, but a creation of capitalism. Some say that if you have one mouth, then you also have two hands. Others point out that every adult can produce food for three people, and so on. However, in the last few decades resource constraints of planet earth have been recognised and meeting the needs of the present population of seven billions appears as a severe challenge. Read more…

Letter: One Year of Peak Oil India

T. Vijayendra, a Founder-Member of POI, writes to the group reminiscing on its formation and offering pointers towards the future 

It is just about a year since the informal group called Peak Oil India was formed (on June 7, 2013) and we decided to have a website. The website has been active for quite some time and we have a mailing list with nearly 60 subscribers. I am considered a ‘founder member’ and am probably the oldest member at 70+. So, I may be permitted to take the initiative to look back and offer a few suggestions.

I will begin with my own involvement with the issue of Peak Oil. Of course, many others have been engaging with the issue independently, not necessarily knowing each other. The first person I met in the field was Suyodh Rao. Sagar Dhara, Sajai Jose and Mansoor Khan have also been active on their own. All of them are now members of the group.

My Experience

I wrote my first article on Peak Oil in December 2007 titled Who is Afraid of Global Warming? Global Warming, Capitalism and the Road to a Saner Society and presented it at The Social Science Congress in Mumbai. It was very well received and was later published in Frontier and Medico Friends Circle Bulletin.

In 2008-09, I began to write a series of articles and published them mainly in Frontier, the journal from Kolkata. Frontier is a left wing weekly addressed mainly to the non-parliamentary Left. I chose to address them because they alone have an agenda of changing the system as a whole in a revolutionary manner. By the end of 2009, I published a book called Regaining Paradise: Towards a Fossil Fuel Free Society. That brought me in touch with many people who had similar ideas and engaged with the same issues, and eventually an embryonic Peak Oil community came into being.

Based on the books ideas, in 2009 August, a friend, Vinayak moved into a small block level town called Kinwat in Nanded district in Maharashtra to work on ‘urban initiatives towards a fossil fuel free society. At that time we had not heard of the Transition Towns movement. Vinayak worked for three years and although he was successful in everything he tried, we failed to evolve a viable group. Our activities mainly revolved around water harvesting, kitchen gardens, local food, transport etc. By the end of the period, we came across Transition Town literature and on reflection, realised that we had not done enough work to reach out to the people with the big picture. We thought we will bring out booklets on the subject and arrange talks to the youth in colleges etc.

There was a biodiversity mela in Hyderabad in the year 2012 and we decided to release four booklets on the occasion. These were:

1. Yugant: Capitalism, global warming and  peak oil  By T. Vijayendra
2. Global Warming by Nagraj Adve
3. Peak Oil  Primer By Energy Bulletin
4. Cuba without isms By T. Vijayendra

These were priced between Rs. 5 to Rs. 8 and we managed to reach a few people (You can download electronic copies by clicking on above links or visiting our Documents page).

Following this, in June 2013 we organised a 3 day workshop on Sustainable Development—An Oxymoron! Search for Alternatives near Hyderabad. In the workshop, we distributed the booklets mentioned above and also gave a DVD which had all the books, booklets, some Powerpoint presentations, articles and four films. Mansoor Khan gave a talk and also did a presentation on his  book, The Third Curve: The End of Growth As We Know It. It was on the third and concluding day (June 7) that we formed the informal group called Peak Oil India and decided to have a website.

Today our network has some active people in Bangalore, Udupi, Belgaum, Pune, Goa, Kinwat and Hyderabad. I hope there are some more people and places.

Incidentally, Vinayak left Kinwat, but a young local person, Yogesh, who had attended the workshop in Hyderabad, is now trying to continue the work he started.

A Few Suggestions

Recent posts in our website paint a gloom – doom scenario. There is certainly enough basis for this and all of us have enough reasons to feel pessimistic about the world and about our country. To me, it appears that most of these authors expect the existing governments to change policies and they find that there is no hope. Many rule out the revolutionary alternative completely either for ideological reasons or because they feel that there is no empirical evidence that such an alternative is in the offing. The net result is that no action programme emerges – at least I have not seen any action programme coming out of it.

Now, I come from a tradition of politics where engaging with people is primary. There are two good examples we can look to in trying to meet the present challenges of Peak Oil, global warming and growing inequality. These are that of Cuba, which faced and overcame a Peak Oil-like situation in the early 90s, and the Transition Town Movement. There are thousands of separate activities carried out by individuals and small groups all over the world that can contribute to either of these ‘models. Each part of the world has to evolve a model that suits its history and genius. This applies to us also and different regions of our country may have to evolve different models as well, since India is a sub continent with distinct ecological regions. My idea is that we should work towards evolving such a model for our country or at least for some regions of our country and evolve an action plan.

Suggested Programme

The programme that is proposed here is:

  1. Awareness lectures to youth groups, Left groups, NAPM, Trade Unions and any local mass organisations including housing societies, etc.
  2. To take up Transition Town kind of work in a few small towns

Proposed Activities

  1. We should as a collective create a few small booklets and pamphlets for the purpose. We can have an editorial group which selects, edits and creates/commissions new material for the purpose.  The documents available on this website can also be considered. We should also have a group that prepares ppts for these booklets so that anyone can use them. 
  1. We should take up translation of this select list of booklets and presentations for regional use. As of now, we may need it in Telugu, Marathi and Kannada- languages of states where we have some live contacts. We should include Hindi too, as it covers a large area. 
  1. We have been doing some work in Kinwat for some years. We can share our learnings. I feel we should initiate work in a few more towns. Khanapur near Belgaum, Karkala in Udupi and may be some small towns near Bangalore and Hyderabad should be explored. The question is who is going to take initiative? If the gloom-doom scenario is real, we can either forget it and enjoy life (as some commentators put it) or do something worthwhile, even if it is a losing battle. As I see it, most of us are neither enjoying life nor doing anything worthwhile. If some of our younger activists are prepared to come forward for it, I think it will create some energy and synergy.

To conclude, I am neither a pessimist nor a pure optimist. I think I can call myself a sceptical optimist and an activist. I feel that during the remaining years of my life I should pass on whatever I have learned in the four and half decades of my activism.

Email: ijdraim
Mobile: +91 9490705634

 

Peak Nuclear Energy May Be Behind Us

In the context of Peak Oil and the general depletion of fossil fuels, we often hear about Nuclear Energy as an option. However, if we look at the empirical data, we will soon discover that its not even if we discount all the dangers associated with Nuclear Energy programme, such as waste disposal problems and accidents. In fact, as figures in a recent World Watch Institute study shows, we might have already passed the peak of nuclear power as a viable energy source. 

By T. Vijayendra, POI Founder-Member

There is a popular belief that the Three Miles Island (1979) , Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima nuclear accidents (2011) have slowed down the growth of the nuclear power, even though the nuclear lobby continues to claim that, on the whole, nuclear power is still much safer than other options, say, coal. However, the truth is that nuclear power, economically and technically, is not a viable source of power.  The accidents, of course, contributed to its unpopularity in the public mind, but the primary reason why nuclear energy is doomed is its own inner weakness.
Read more…

Cheap Oil, Peak Oil and Kitchen Gardens

By T. Vijayendra

A pamphlet on World Kitchen Garden Day (August 25)!

The idea of kitchen garden is becoming popular because of:
• awareness on growing healthy food
• rise in vegetable prices
But why have prices risen? Read more…

Peak oil and wildlife

By T. Vjayendra and Shashank Srinivasan

ABSTRACT

Wildlife across the world is endangered due to habitat loss caused as a by-product of modern human society in the past 200 years. Most attempts at conservation have been unsuccessful in the face of the consumerist juggernaut because they are being carried out without questioning industrial society or its attitude towards nature, which is to conquer and exploit it. Peak Oil implies that the production of petroleum products has reached a peak and will decline in the immediate future. It endangers the very material basis of industrial societies that of concentrated energy and heralds the end of industrial society. While this creates the possibility of saving wildlife by reducing habitat loss, it will depend on how societies respond to peak oil. In societies which do not wish to reduce energy consumption or ensure equitable distribution of energy, wildlife may become further endangered. In societies where a modern socialist agenda (i.e. to reduce consumption with equitable distribution) exists, such as in Cuba, wildlife may gain by default. However wildlife will flourish only in those societies where there is an inner change, a change in attitude towards nature itself. Transition towns, ecological villages and small groups of people practising organic farming hold this promise. Read more…

Peak Oil, dying cities and cities of tomorrow

By T. Vijayendra

Peak oil means when the production of petroleum products has reached a peak and hence forth it will only fall. This has already happened.  It heralds the collapse of industrial societies. Cities are energy consumers, not producers. With the fossil fuel era coming to a close, and no viable alternative energy source visible on the horizon, cities as they exist today are unsustainable and dying. Their future depends on whether they can reinvent themselves radicallyreduce their energy consumption drastically to come closer to that of their hinterlands, and distribute energy equitably to all their residents. Cuba and transition towns in North nations have already begun to go down this road. Many similar initiatives are occurring in urban India also.

Read more…

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