Peak Oil and All That

T. Vijayendra

This is a response to some mails on peak oil etc.

I think I am one of the first to publish on Peak Oil in India around 2008. Both Suyodh Rao and Sajai Jose tried to publish in the mainstream media but there were no takers. Incidentally Suyodh was a ‘guru’ for us on peak oil and he started the first web site on this. I published in Frontier and MFC Bulletin because there were and still are friends in these publications. Later I published books and booklets on my own. As far as publishing is concerned I think the scene has not changed much. Only alternate media, both print and online are the main people who are publishing. Both Mansoor and I published books on our own.

First about the timetable. After the 2008 melt down there was a flurry of predicting the collapse of capitalism. My understanding was and is that the collapse is a complex process. It is a result of interaction between global warming, resource depletion (peak oil is one of them) ecological degradation, economic crisis and people’s movement. We (Suyodh Rao, Sagar, Usha Rao, Suresh Kosaraju, Nyla, Sajai, Vijay Kundaji, Shreekumar and Mansoor) discussed these matters regularly. Our rough idea was that the collapse will begin around 2020 (remember Catton’s flat portion of the curve after the peak) and we expected a fossil fuel free world around 2030. What happened was that many ‘optimists’ thought that peak oil was imminent and that ‘happy days are here’. We knew that peak oil itself does not usher happy days but what the people do about it. That is why my 2009 book was, ‘Regaining Paradise: towards a fossil fuel free society’. Today I and some of us believe that a series of these events (extreme climate events, pandemics, economic recession and people’s movement) will occur, interacting with each other and capitalist crisis will deepen and lead to a gradual collapse by 2030. Also let us not forget, accompanied by extreme hardships to people and mass deaths.

Actually, none of us was really interested in the time table but in the daunting task to visualise and work for the post collapse fossil fuel free society. It really did not and does not matter when the collapse will occur. Point is whether the collapse will lead to chaos or transition. Point is to work towards transition here and now and not wait for collapse. In 2010 we did not know about Transition Town or Ecological Villages of Russia. We started working on the basis of one chapter in my book, ‘Urban initiatives towards a fossil fuel free society’ in a small town called Kinwat, in Nanded District, Maharashtra. Almost every one I mentioned above helped and we achieved some small successes. Since then I am continuously at it though I must confess without getting much success. We created Ecologise Hyderabad and had a series of events including one whole year celebrating the bicentenary of the bicycle in 2017.

During SAPACC 2019 Suresh and I published and circulated several small booklets. Three of them are worth mentioning: 1. Cuba: Road to fossil fuel free society by T. Vijayendra, 2. Global warming in the Indian context by Nagaraj Adve and 3. Kabira khada hai bazar mein: Call for local action in the wake of Global Emergency by T. Vijayendra. There is a sudden demand for these booklets and translations in the wake of COVID 19. We have active translation persons in Kannada, Marathi and Bengali. Naga has a good group for Hindi translations.

After COVID 19, I published several articles: 1. Collapse is here. 2. May Day 2020 and Vision 2023 and 3. Singing the song for the roadster (about migrants travelling long distance on the ordinary roadster bicycle). This week I have created a group around ‘Resources for Local Action and Transition Town’. We hope to produce booklets as guide in some 10 areas for transition town. Let me add that we are not interested in people who are click activists: ‘forward, share and connect people’ but people who are prepared to put in some work.

I don’t think all this does amounts to much. We are tiny. Hope many more and younger people may join. Also, maybe we have been on the wrong road and others will take better road learning from our mistakes. In fact, there is diversity in the world and different countries have different histories and the transition will be different in those regions. We cannot rule out an ‘eco socialist revolution’ or a social democratic transition in Scandinavian countries, some innovative responses by women head of states in New Zealand or Croatia. Fact is we know very little. I would like to confine myself to the small regions I know and hope we will not make big mistakes.

Back to Home Page

Jun 3, 2020

T. Vijayendra

Your Comment if any